Support for Mayor de Blasio's Proposal to Reform 421-a Tax Breaks & Strengthen the Rent Laws

Support for Mayor de Blasio's Proposal to Reform 421-a Tax Breaks & Strengthen the Rent Laws

Statement of City Council Member Brad Lander, Deputy Leader for Policy (and a member of NYC's 421-a Task Force in 2006):

"For far too long, despite our prior efforts at reform, the 421-a tax break has been far too big a giveaway of our tax dollars, for far too little affordable housing in return. New York City simply cannot afford to continue to subsidize market-rate development with no affordability.

So I embrace Mayor de Blasio's proposal for reform (outlined this morning in The New York Times). By requiring affordable housing in exchange for any 421-a tax break, increasing the amount of affordability required, eliminating condos, expanding the options to fit different neighborhoods, and broadening the mansion tax, 421-a can become a program that truly supports the creation of affordable housing for New Yorkers who need it.

In past reform efforts, when we called Albany's relationship to the 421-a program a 'racket,' I thought we were speaking metaphorically. In recent days, it has become clear that we were actually speaking quite literally. We must reform the broken 421-a program, to shift it from a tax-giveaway program to an affordable housing program, everywhere that it applies in New York City.

At the same time, we must strengthen the rent & tenant protection laws that protect 1 million families in New York City. Tenants in NYC are facing tremendous pressures due to rapidly rising rents. A recent study from the NYU Fuman Center found that over the past seven years, average rents have risen 11%, while median incomes have only risen 2%. The obvious result: NYC's tenant households are more & more squeezed. And we continue to lost regulated units every year. We must eliminate vacancy decontrol & excessive vacancy allowances, recast individual apartment increases & MCIs as surcharges instead of permanent rent increases, and reform 'preferential' rents if we are going to protect tenants from continued rent spikes and displacement and preserve our rent-regulated housing stock.   

We simply cannot afford a 'straight extender' that extends a broken system, costs us over $1 billion, continues to lost rent-regulated units, and leaves so many tenants facing displacement.

Thanks to Mayor de Blasio for his strong reform proposals. It is important to remember that these are laws that affect New York City -- our rental housing, our neighborhoods, and our budget.  The State Legislature should pass them, and Governor Cuomo should sign them, this Spring."

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