Government briefs

Republicans accused of ‘affordable housing massacre’

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Catherine Young
As Democrats and Republicans in Albany spar over New York City rent regulations set to expire June 15, Senate Democrats accused GOP members of attempting an “affordable housing massacre” at the behest of city landlords, the Daily News reported. The charge came in response to a bill introduced last month by Senate Housing Committee Chairwoman Catharine Young that would ease the requirement that rents must reach $2,000 a month before an apartment can be deregulated. Amid Democrats’ accusations, the Metropolitan Council on Housing submitted a request for copies of all communications between landlord groups and top GOP leaders in the Senate. A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos denied the GOP was working on landlords’ behalf.

Homeless shelter to open in Chelsea

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127 West 25th Street
The city last month cleared the way for a controversial 200-bed homeless shelter to open in Chelsea, according to DNAinfo. The Bowery Residents Committee signed a $76 million, 20-year contract with the city to convert 127 West 25th Street into a 12-story facility for men with a history of mental illness, as well as a 32-bed chemical dependency crisis center. At a hearing last month, some 75 area residents expressed concerns about safety and declining property values due to the facility.

Destito to assess state-held real estate

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RoAnn Destito, who was sworn in last month as the new commissioner of the state Office of General Services, said she would review all state real estate holdings, according to the Albany Times Union. The move comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo seeks new ways to streamline government spending. A recent series of audits requested by the governor found widespread inefficiency in the way New York spends roughly $3 billion annually on office space, goods and services.

Queens residents protest taxes

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Toby Ann Stavisky
Queens residents gathered last month to protest sharp increases in the values of co-op buildings caused by computer error, according to the New York Times. Due to the glitch, the Finance Department artificially inflated market values of some Queens co-op buildings by as much as 150 percent, clearing the way for an increase in the owners’ property taxes. City Comptroller John Liu has said he would investigate the mistake, and the city has also moved to correct the values of 40 properties. But State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said many of her constituents still faced double-digit valuation increases. She is pressing to pass a bill to cap annual assessment increases for owners of co-op and condo units at 6 percent.

More limits proposed for Fannie and Freddie

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives last month began introducing a series of new bills in a move toward privatizing the mortgage industry, Reuters reported. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac finance about 90 percent of home loans in the country, and have received more than $160 billion in taxpayer money since being placed in conservatorship by the U.S. Treasury in 2008. House Republicans have introduced proposals including a cap on taxpayer support and barring the Treasury from lowering the dividends Fannie and Freddie pay to the government.