Loft law could push residents out, West Siders push back on city’s homeless housing plans, and more

Government briefs
By Dennis Lynch | June 01, 2017 10:00AM

Maria Torres-Springer

HPD suddenly plans for millions in federal funds

New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development expects to save $3.7 million from federal grants just two months after its commissioner, Maria Torres-Springer, warned that the Trump administration and Congress could eliminate that funding, Politico reported. In May, the agency said it would save the money between fiscal years 2017 and 2021 thanks to community development block grants, which can be used for repairs, code enforcement and other expenses. Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a similar outlook when he proposed an executive budget of $84.86 billion in April, which the New York Times called a “wait-and-see” strategy. President Donald Trump wants to cut $6.2 billion from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s budget, though his plan is not expected to make it through Congress as is, according to the Hill.

City allows contractors to apply for removal from “naughty list”

HPD has created a provision that allows contractors on its watch list for illegal behavior and shoddy workmanship to apply for a conditional removal. The agency references the “enhanced contractor review list” when such companies bid on city projects. Contractors can apply for removal if they have been on the list for at least four years and can prove they have not performed the kind of work that got them there in the first place, including labor law violations and construction quality issues. Critics of the list have complained that some of the companies on it can still bid on city projects, while others say being publicly identified as a bad actor can impact a contractor’s business for years after. An HPD spokesperson said that the city will continue to monitor any contractors that take on the kind of projects that landed them on the list.

Tenants may have lofty hopes to change space regulations

Residential loft tenants around the city could lose their homes if they miss a June 15 application deadline to legalize their apartments under the state’s Loft Law. Yet some argue that Mayor Bill de Blasio isn’t helping push for changes, despite his commitments to preserve affordable housing, according to Politico. Tenants and advocates want the New York City Loft Board to extend the deadline and are pushing lawmakers to end regulations enacted in 2010 that make some spaces ineligible for legalization. Tossing those rules would allow more loft tenants to claim protection from unrestricted rent hikes and make landlords more accountable for any building code violations. A mayoral spokeswoman told Politico that the city was working with lawmakers “to understand what can or should be done.”

West Siders criticize city’s potential homeless housing plan

Community leaders in Hell’s Kitchen were surprised to learn that the city may reserve 10 percent of a two-site, 267-unit affordable development for the homeless, DNAinfo reported. Community Board 4 members say that violates a commitment the city made to set aside units for moderate- and middle-income residents following the 2009 rezoning of the West Side rail yards. The city will soon put out a request for proposal to private developers to construct the residential buildings, one at 10th Avenue between West 48th and 49th streets and another on the corner of Ninth Avenue and West 54th Street. One community board member noted that the neighborhood had “never” turned down supportive or homeless housing, and the committee plans to write a letter asking the HPD to honor its original promise.