2005-09-02 / Community

Weiner: Build Homes For Middle Class

Representative Anthony Weiner, who is running for mayor in the upcoming election, recently unveiled his plan to make housing in New York City more affordable for the middle class and those aspiring to get there.

The Weiner plan calls for 168,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years, new steps to keep rental costs low, and a commitment to building housing that the middle class can afford.

The Weiner housing plan includes:

168,000 Units of Affordable Housing – As Mayor, Weiner will commit $7.63 billion over 10 years to build and preserve 168,000 units of affordable housing, including $2 billion for new homes for 1 – 4 member families to own (58,000 units), $1.25 billion for supportive housing for seniors, the homeless and the medically infirm (11,000 units), $2.6 billion in new rentals (43,000 units), and $1.75 billion for the preservation of existing units (56,000). Weiner will pay for the program out of the capital budget, federal and state grants, and funding from the $130 million scheduled to come to the City from the Battery Park City Authority.

Keep Rentals Affordable – Approximately 48.6% of New York City apartments are “rent stabilized”—meaning that there are limits on the amount of rent a landlord may charge.  But the number is on the way down, from a high of 77% in the 1960’s, because of a rule passed in 1994 that said that if a tenant leaves a rent stabilized apartment with rent in excess of $2,000 a month, the landlord can opt out of the stabilization system and then charge whatever he or she wants to the new tenant. As Mayor, Weiner will fight to index rent stabilization, meaning that as rents rise, so will the point at which a landlord can opt out of stabilization. 

Tax Exemptions for Middle Class Housing – Currently, housing developers can get a property tax exemption if they commit to setting aside 20% of their housing units for affordable housing (an 80/20 housing scheme)—housing that is targeted to low income New Yorkers. As Mayor, Weiner will move the City towards a 60/20/20 scheme—with tax exemptions for developers who set aside an additional 20% for middle class housing.

Give New York City Power to Control Rent Regulations — Under the “Urstadt Law”, enacted during the Rockefeller administration, the City is prohibited from setting any rent guidelines beyond those imposed by the State. As Mayor, Weiner will fight to repeal the law immediately, so that the City can implement its own housing policy.

Clean Up Brownfields – Approximately 6,000 lots and properties in New York City are considered brownfields—property that is environmentally compromised. As Mayor, Weiner will launch a comprehensive study of the City’s brownfields, identify those that are salvageable, and match sites with developers who will clean them up and build affordable housing stock.

Fight for Section 8 – According to the most recent numbers, there are approximately 115,000 individuals and families in New York City receiving Section 8 vouchers to help them pay the rent. But the Bush Administration is trying to cut back on Section 8, putting thousands at risk of not being able to afford the place they live. As Mayor, Weiner will fight to protect Section 8.

Encourage Inclusionary Zoning – “Inclusionary zoning” programs offer developers incentives to include affordable housing in the apartment complexes they build. As Mayor, Weiner will develop a comprehensive inclusionary zoning plan for the entire city.

Increased Support for the “Nehemiah” Housing Program – The Reverend Johnny Youngblood created the Nehemiah Program, which builds low cost housing in low income areas in partnership with churches and other faith based organizations. As Mayor, Weiner will increase support for the Nehemiah Program.

Follow Through with Olympic Village Housing – The Olympic plan included 4,400 new apartments, with 17,000 beds and 43 acres of parkland, at a total cost of $1.6 billion. As Mayor, Weiner will develop the site, with a set aside for middle income housing on the 60/20/20 model.

Expand Housing on Housing Authority Owned Property – The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) owns land in the City on which housing has been constructed—but it owns parking lots and playgrounds too. As Mayor, Weiner will expand housing on NYCHA owned property.  

Maximize Senior Housing – The Section 202 housing program provides federal dollars to local developers to build low income housing for seniors.  But in some cases, section 202 land is not being fully utilized to provide housing. As Mayor, Weiner will ensure that properties set aside for senior housing is fully used for senior housing. 

Fight for State Housing Funds — Under the “New York, New York” program, the State is supposed to provide matching funds for supportive housing for the homeless in the City.  But the state hasn’t been living up to its end of the bargain. As Mayor, Weiner will demand that the state provide matching funds.

“New York is the greatest city in the world, but too many middle class families are being driven out by high housing costs,” said Rep. Weiner.  “Real solutions start with building more affordable housing and preserving the stock that we already have, but it also means taking real steps to keep rental costs low.”

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