So it’s a Problem if it Affects the Housing Authority But Not if it Affects Private Owners?

New York City’s Independent Budget Office (IBO)recently posted an item on its Web Blog describing the financial difficulties that the NYC Housing Authority may face as a result of increased water and sewer bills (see below).

The piece focuses on the city’s Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) recent conversion of the remaining frontage accounts to flat-rate billing under DEP’s Multi-Family Conservation Program. That program sets a flat-rate of $894.15 per apartment per year which, according to the IBO, is about $60 higher, on average, than previous frontage bills. Under the new billing system, the IBO calculates, the Housing Authority’s water bill will increase from $149.9 million to $160 million. Meeting the increased bills may be a challenge, the IBO says, in light of the Housing Authority’s current operating deficit.

But thousands of private owner of multi-family properties are also affected by DEP’s billing change, with many experiencing increases of $200 or more per apartment per year. These above average increases in cost were totally ignored by the NYC Rent Guidelines Board in its deliberations about setting the allowable level of rent increase for 2012.

The Housing Authority will undoubtedly be eventually bailed out of its dilemma by taxpayer funded subsidies. But private owners of affordable rent regulated properties will be hard-pressed to fund the increased costs without reducing the quality of life in their buildings.

— Jack Freund, Executive Vice President, Rent Stabilization Association

Water Conservation Program Could Cause a Flood of New Problems for the City’s Housing Authority

Posted by Doug Turetsky, August 16, 2012

With the New York City Housing Authority facing a recent barrage of critical press, it’s not surprising that a seemingly small change in how the housing authority will be billed for water has been overlooked. But what may seem like a small drip of an issue now could open a floodgate later.

In an extension of its effort to encourage water conservation, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection last month put the New York City Housing Authority into a water conservation program that requires water meters to be installed at all of the housing authority’s 334 developments. If the housing authority cannot meet the requirements of the conservation program, it may instead be billed by water meters that track the amount of water used in a building. This could result in higher water and sewer bills for an agency already struggling with budget shortfalls and has trouble with the timely upkeep and repair of its properties. Continue reading

Over Objections by the City Administration, NYC City Council Set to Make Affordable Housing More Expensive

NYC Council Passes Contentious Law

By Donna Kimura

Affordable housing developers in New York City face a controversial new law that calls for the extensive reporting of wages and other data for projects receiving city funding.

After being passed by the City Council in July, the legislation (Intro 730) was headed to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  Even if he vetoes the law, the council could still override his vote.

Under the rule, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) would have to report detailed information on the subsidies awarded to projects and provide data on the wages of every individual performing project work by the developer or a contractor.

The move is aimed at increasing transparency at the department and the many affordable housing developments financed by HPD each year, but critics say the requirements will create more red tape and place a huge burden on the industry, especially smaller developers. Affordable housing representatives point out that there could be 50 subcontractors on a project and thousands of wage reports annually.

The New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH) called for the elimination of the wage-reporting requirements.

“These mandates impose untenable administrative burdens on local and small businesses, putting them at a significant competitive disadvantage, with only the largest businesses able to compete,” said NYSAFAH, which estimated it would cost $40 million to implement Intro 730.

HPD Commissioner Mathew Wambua has also been critical. “HPD already vigorously enforces all applicable wage laws,” he said in a statement. “Collecting and stockpiling massive amounts of personal and sensitive wage information offers no clear benefits to the public.”


Source: Affordable Housing Finance

Another Reason Housing Costs Are So High In New York: Government Taxes And Requirements On Closing Costs

Daily News

Homebuyers know and stats show that closing costs you a ton in New York

State is No. 1 in closing expenses for a third year in a row, Bankrate surveys



BILL TURNBULL FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS. Would this Elmhurst, Queens, house work for you? Keep in mind that average closing costs total $5,435 for a $200,000 mortgage on a single-family home purchased with a 20% down payment. The cheapest state to get in the door with a mortgage is Missouri, with average costs of 3,006.


HERE’S ONE more reason why it’s so ridiculously expensive to live in New York: We have the highest mortgage closing costs in the country.

For the third year in a row, New York State leads the way in fees associated with getting a home loan, according to a new survey from

The average closing cost here is a whopping $5,435 for a $200,000 mortgage on a single-family home purchased with a 20% down payment.

Compare that with Missouri, the state with the lowest closing costs, where they pay an average of $3,006. The national average is $3,754. Continue reading

Why Is The City Prohibiting Private Development Of Affordable Housing?

The brief article below makes it clear that the City’s down-zoning in Woodhaven and Richmond Hill will prohibit private developers from building new apartment complexes for low-income and immigrant families. This is just the latest of numerous down-zonings across the City that preclude private un-subsidized development of affordable housing. At the same time, the City is spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to produce subsidized affordable housing. Why not let the private sector produce that housing at no cost to taxpayers? 

— Jack Freund, Executive Vice President, Rent Stabilization Association 

(Views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the RSA.)

Queens neighborhoods rezoned to fight off multi-family developers

August 03, 2012 05:30PM

In an effort to preserve the suburban character of the area, City Council voted to approve the rezoning of Jamaica Aveapproximately 200 blocks in Woodhaven and Richmond Hill – the first zoning changes to the neighborhoods since 1961 – to limit multi-family construction, the Queens Chronicle reported.  Pressure to rezone the area came after developers had begun demolishing freestanding homes and replacing them with apartment complexes to appeal to the many low-income and immigrant families moving to the area. However, the council did modify the proposal to allow larger-scale development on the block between 135th Avenue and Van Wyck Expressway north of Liberty Avenue.

The City Council also approved an upzoning,  along Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven and Atlantic Avenue between 104th and 121st streets, to encourage multi-family development over commercial buildings and meet the demand for housing near mass transit. According to the Department of City Planning, rezoning this area will ensure that the densest neighborhoods exist near mass transit, while keeping businesses confined to that area and off of residential blocks.

“After the council’s vote, residents of Woodhaven and Richmond Hill will finally see an end to development that destroyed the neighborhoods’ characteristic one- and two-family homes,” Council member Elizabeth Crowley said. “The new zone also encourages economic growth along Jamaica and Atlantic avenues.” [Queens Chronicle] – Christopher Cameron


Source: The Real Deal

New Housing Initiative: Tiny Apartments

If tiny apartments are so desirable, why doesn’t New York City revive single room occupancy (SRO) uses?

— Jack Freund, Executive Vice President, Rent Stabilization Association 

(Views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the RSA.)


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Mike pushes for smaller apts. for young singles

Monday, July 09, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg with Commissioner of City Planning Amanda Burden, announce…

And you thought your apartment was small.

Mayor Bloomberg launched a contest Monday to stir development of teeny-tiny apartments — called micro units — for young singles willing to cram themselves into shoebox-sized digs.

The new closetlike flats will be just 275 to 300 square feet — larger than a jail cell but smaller than a mobile home — and will have special permission to ignore city rules requiring newly built apartments to exceed 400 square feet.

“The city’s demographics have changed,” Bloomberg said. “It used to be the average household was a family, a couple of adults and some children.”

That meant that the city was filled with larger dwellings, leaving just 1 million studios and one bedrooms — not nearly enough for the 1.8 million one-and two-person households.

At a news conference Monday, the mayor announced a contest seeking a developer for about 80 micro units at a city-owned parking lot on E. 27th St. in Kips Bay.

The ministudios will be just big enough for a bathroom, kitchen and sleeping and dining areas — but Bloomberg said tenants shouldn’t plan on doing much entertaining. Continue reading

New Housing Initiative: Tiny Apartments

If tiny apartments are so desirable, why doesn’t New York City revive single room occupancy (SRO) uses?

– Jack Freund, Executive Vice President, Rent Stabilization Association

 (Views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the RSA.)

Tiny apartments in S.F. worth a try
Published 06:26 p.m., Monday, July 16, 2012


San Francisco’s lopsided housing market – sky-high rents and an invasion of young workers – has experts thinking: Why not drop the minimum size of new apartments to the equivalent of a one-car garage?

It’s an idea worth exploring and encouraging, but the results will hinge on the appeal and convenience of the finished product. Financing, the job market and even housing politics could all play a role in a helping or hurting a promising idea.

Initial designs feature a foldaway bed, galley kitchen and bench seats along a window for a grand total of 220 square feet, below the city minimum of 290 square feet. In theory, there’s a ready market since 41 percent of the city’s residents live alone.

Putting more apartments into the same building space could lower costs and possibly rents or sales prices. As new construction, the mini-me apartments would be exempt from rent control. The snug quarters might take pressure off existing multi-bedroom housing that families and couples now compete for.

The city is already nipping at conventional housing rules via building loft apartments in industrial areas and dropping parking requirements. The next frontier could be super-small apartments for singles or very well-adjusted couples looking to live inside an Ikea catalog.

San Francisco needs to experiment with unconventional housing such as the mini apartment. It’s worth seeing if buyers and renters are willing to do the same.


Source: San Francisco Chronicle