The city and the hotel industry have been waging war against Airbnb since last September in an effort to both preserve affordable housing and to protect hotel operators throughout the city. Though millions of dollars have been spent by both parties campaigning for change, apart from a couple of rulings ousting affordable renters for putting their apartments on the home-sharing site, not much has changed. Airbnb has failed to sway lawmakers, and the group leading the anti-Airbnb movement, ShareBetter, has only kept Airbnb from changing a state law that prohibits tenants in buildings with three or more units from renting out their home for short stays. In fact, according to Crain’s, Airbnb is thriving in NYC with now more than 27,000 rooms and apartments on its site.
The revitalization of East New York is at the center of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan, but like his ambitious Sunnyside Yards project, his ideas for the fallen areas of Brooklyn are apparently also filled with holes. According to a piece published by the Wall Street Journal yesterday, de Blasio’s plan to re-zone 15 neighborhoods to allow for taller and denser housing won’t do much good for affordable housing. The main reason? The rents are too low. In fact, housing experts believe that his plan is more likely to hurt the character of Brooklyn’s most tony areas, including Park Slope, Fort Greene, and Crown Heights, amongst many others.
In New York City there are currently about one million rent stabilized apartments–about 47 percent of the city’s rental units. So why is it so hard to snag one? What are the benefits of having one (other than affordable rent, of course)? According to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board nearly 250,000 rental units have lost the protections of rent regulation since 1994. Why are we “losing” so many of them?
Brooklyn’s Pacific Park development, one of the pipeline projects examined in the report for it’s affordable housing offer. Rendering by COOKFOX
This morning the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) released a report today saying if the city fails to renew the existing 421-a partial tax exemption program, we could stand to lose thousands of affordable units. REBNY took a look at a sample of projects in the pipeline—including Essex Crossing, 5Pointz, Domino and Pacific Park, amongst others—and found that 421-a is responsible for 5,484 affordable apartments and 13,801 market-rate units in these developments. They argue that without the abatement the theses units would be in jeopardy and be “immediately be sent back to the drawing board.” They add that some of the units could even end up as high-end luxury condominiums and some of the middle- and low-income housing now in the works would be lost forever.
On the surface it sounds like a great idea: Adjust zoning regulations to better accommodate the Mayor’s goal of preserving and creating 200,000 units of affordable housing. But some are angered that the proposal would lift current zoning protections and height limits by as much as 20 to 30 percent.
According to the Department of City Planning, the newly released plan, called Housing New York: Zoning for Quality and Affordability, addresses the city’s outdated zoning regulations that don’t reflect today’s housing needs or construction practices. However, an email from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation asserts: “The proposal would change the rules for ‘contextual’ zoning districts throughout the city–zoning districts which communities frequently fought hard to secure, to limit the height of new development and keep it in character with the surrounding neighborhood.”
Let’s face it, we all feel that we’re paying too much for our tiny NYC apartments, and while for most of us that’s just the name of the game, for others who are living in a rent-stabilized unit but being charged market-rate rent, it’s actually true. Want to know if you fall into that boat? A new website called amirentstabilized.com will help you find out.
The site allows renters to search their building to see if it’s on the city’s list of addresses with rent stabilized units. Unfortunately, it can’t tell you if your specific apartment is one of them, but it’s a great first step and provides resources for confirming your unit’s status, as well as filing a complaint if you’re being overcharged.
Going broke will no longer mean losing out on your rent-controlled apartment in NYC. According to Bloomberg, city tenants who file for bankruptcy will now be able to keep the keys to their affordable apartments as public assistance. The decision is taken from two opinions formed by the New York State Court of Appeals and the Manhattan-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Previously bankrupt tenants faced a threat of eviction even when they were current on rent.