Mayoral Candidates Pander to Housing Advocates, but Weiner Defends Vacancy Decontrol Vote

 

Mayoral candidates Bill de Blasio, Adolfo Carrion, John Liu, Bill Thompson and Anthony Weiner answer questions from affordable-housing advocates at a forum Tues., June 26, 2013.
Mayoral candidates Bill de Blasio, Adolfo Carrion, John Liu, Bill Thompson and Anthony
  Weiner answer questions from affordable-housing advocates at a forum Tues., June 26, 2013.

 

By Irina Ivanova

 

Democratic mayoral hopefuls—minus City Council Speaker Christine Quinn—expressed strong support for affordable-housing protections at a forum sponsored by a coalition of community groups Tuesday.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, City Comptroller John Liu, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner and Adolfo Carrión, an independent and former Bronx Borough President, spoke in front of about 400 attendees at the Calvary-St. George’s Church in the Gramercy Park area of Manhattan. The candidates agreed broadly on stricter enforcement of building codes, mandatory inclusionary zoning in new developments and reforming the New York City Housing Authority. All five also said that the Bloomberg administration’s ambitious housing plan to create or preserve 165,000 affordable units by the end of June 2014, largely through incentives to private developers, will fall short of meeting the need for affordable housing in the city.

“We hardly gained anything because we lost an equal number of units from rent regulation and Mitchell Lama,” said Mr. de Blasio. “There’s over a third of the city paying more than 50% of their income for rent.”

They called for the use of nonprofit developers and the implementation of mandatory inclusionary zoning as ways to build more affordable apartments. Inclusionary zoning, which is currently voluntary, allows a developer to build additional units if a certain percentage of the development is set aside for low-income residents.

Candidates also spoke in favor of stricter building code enforcement. Currently, only one-third of the building code violations that is recorded by the city result in fines. Mr. Thompson said he would “dramatically expand” the city’s Alternative Enforcement Program, which imposes additional penalties on landlords of severely distressed residential buildings, and hire more staff devoted to that program. Mr. Liu said the city should penalize building owners with a lot of violations by limiting the number of buildings in their possession.

“Even when they get fines and violations, the Buildings Department keeps giving them more buildings. The left hand doesn’t seem to know what the right hand is doing,” Mr. Liu said.

Mr. Carrión said he would create “a Hall of Shame for slumlords,” and enable the city to take poorly maintained buildings away from their owners.

When it came to reforming the New York City Housing Authority, there was no shortage of ideas. The candidates had harsh words for the mayor’s Infill/Land-Lease plan, which would rent out Housing Authority land for the construction of market-rate apartments. Mr. Carrión said money raised from selling the air rights of Housing Authority developments should go toward repairing existing public housing and building additional affordable housing. Currently, the agency has a backlog of more than 240,000 repairs, a number that once stood as high as 420,000.

Meanwhile, Mr. Weiner said he supported development on Housing Authority land, but for uses other than market-rate apartments such as commercial. “Let’s have specialized housing for seniors,” he said.

All five candidates also supported halting the nearly $100 million payment Housing Authority gives to the city each year for services like policing and sanitation. Many housing activists say the payment, which was instituted during the Giuliani administration, amounts to double taxation on public-housing residents. No other housing provider in the city is required to make such payments.

The mayoral forum was sponsored by a number of community groups, including Community Voices Heard, Good Old Lower East Side, the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, Los Sures and the Pratt Area Community Council.

 

Source: Crain’s New York Business

Upper West Side and Lower East Side Historic Districts Will Increase Costs and Raise Rents in Hundreds of Rental Buildings

East Village–Lower East Side Historic District approved by Landmarks

October 09, 2012 03:30PM

The Landmarks Preservation Commission today approved slightly modified version of the East Village/Lower East Side Historic District, according to a press release issued by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. The territory covers 330 buildings across 15 blocks bounded by Avenue A and the Bowery and St. Mark’s Place and 2nd Street.

According to the release, the historic district was expanded to include structures such as the Russian Orthodox Cathedral at 59 East 2nd Street and the Magistrate’s Court at 32 Second Avenue, which now operates as the Anthology Film Archives.  As Crain’s reported earlier today, other structures in the district include the firmer Fillmore East concert venue and the German Evangelical Lutheran Church.

The landmarking came as an effort made by preservation groups to preserve the character of the East Village. The decision comes as NYU will expand its campus just west of the district. — Zachary Kussin

 

 

City Council approves UWS historic district

October 04, 2012 

 

The City Council’s Landmarks committee has approved an expansion of the Upper West Side’s historic district. The district will expand to include blocks between Broadway and Riverside Drive, between 79th and 87th streets. It is one of several proposed expansions of the historic districts on the Upper West Side. The City Council, in a full vote, is expected to approve the expansion, okayed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, as well.

Property owners within the district will now have to get changes to their buildings approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the city agency that deals with renovations and changes to landmarked buildings, as well as designates landmarks and historic districts.

 

Source: The Real Deal