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Cuomo reaches deal to spur building of affordable apartments

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he reached a deal that would revive an important tax abatement that is necessary to build large developments such as the Hallets Cove project in Astoria. That $1.5 billion complex which would have consisted of five buildings and 2,400 apartments, 484 of them affordable, was scaled back to just one building after the 421-a program was allowed to expire in January.

Cuomo brokered the deal between the Real Estate Board of New York and the Building Construction Trades Council of Greater New York last week. The Durst Organization is still reviewing the pact and would not comment on the future of Hallets Point.

“The deal reached today between these two parties provides more affordability for tenants and fairer wages for the worker than under the original proposal,” Cuomo said. “While I would prefer even more affordability in the 421-a program, this agreement marks a major step forward for New Yorkers.”

The program offers tax breaks to housing developers for setting aside affordable units. The agreement will allow for the development of critical affordable housing and establishes wage standards for construction workers in New York.

Before it expired in January, the 421-a program was seen as a key to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious Housing New York plan, which had already financed more than 40,000 apartments, enough for more than 100,000 New Yorkers.

“We look forward to reviewing all the details of a new proposal,” City Hall spokeswoman Melissa Grace said. “Our priority is ensuring that the ultimate legislation passed demands real affordable housing for our people and protects taxpayers from giveaways.”

Several lawmakers contacted by the TimesLedger would not comment on the deal.

Under the agreement, developers on projects with 300 or more units within a mile of the Queens and Brooklyn waterfront from Astoria to Brooklyn Heights seeking to receive the tax abatement would ensure workers make at least $50 per hour in wages and benefits.

“The agreement extends affordability for projects created with 421-a for an additional five years -- bringing affordability for these units to 40 years,” Cuomo said. “It also allows lower-income individuals to qualify as it lowers the percentage of area median income needed to apply.”

The deal still needs the approval of lawmakers in Albany for the program to return, and for a memorandum of understanding that would unlock $2 billion in funds the governor needs from the state Legislature for his own affordable housing program. The next legislative session does not begin until January.

“Most importantly until this agreement is finalized, the state Legislature has refused to release $2 billion in state affordable housing funds,” Cuomo said. “I urge the Legislature to come back to Albany to pass desperately needed affordable housing and sign the MOU to release these funds. We simply cannot allow the lack of resolution to stall affordable housing production for years to come. There is no excuse not to act.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

Posted 12:00 am, November 17, 2016
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Reader feedback

Simon from Whitestone says:
kuomo=korrupt, parry=parrot
Nov. 17, 2016, 4:20 pm

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