De Blasio’s 2017 affordable housing plan includes $1.9B for 10,000 new units and Elder Rent Assistance program

February 13, 2017

In preparation for his State of the City address this evening at the Apollo, the Mayor announced two major affordable housing initiatives. The first will allocate $1.9 billion for 10,000 new apartments reserved for households earning less than $40,000, 5,000 of which will be set aside for seniors and 500 for veterans. The second implements a new Elder Rent Assistance program to provide 25,000 seniors with monthly rental assistance of up to $1,3000, to be funded by the city’s proposed Mansion Tax.

The new initiatives are part of de Blasio’s much larger goal of building and preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years (from 2014 when he took office until 2024). As of a month ago, the city had created 62,506 affordable apartments; in 2016 alone, they added 21,963 units, the most in 27 years.

As the mansion tax stands currently, home sales over $1 million are subject to a 1 percent tax. But the Mayor’s new proposal would raise the property transfer tax to 2.5 percent for any sale above $2 million. As 6sqft reported last month, “the city’s Office of Management and Budget estimates 4,500 homes will sell for $2 million or more in the upcoming fiscal year, which would mean another $336 million in revenue for the city if the proposal were to be adopted.” These funds would be devoted to the aforementioned Elder Rent Assistance program for those New Yorkers 62 years and older who earn less than $50,000 annually. The program would ensure that seniors who live on a $1,350/month Social Security check won’t pay more than $450 a month on rent–“helping them stay in their home and age with dignity,” according to the Mayor’s press release.

In a separate announcement yesterday, de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said that they’ll be dedicating $93 million annually to fund universal access to legal services in Housing Court for tenants facing eviction whose household incomes are below $50,000. Those who earn more will be entitled to legal counseling. Currently, more than 70 percent of low-income tenants head to Housing Court without legal representation, and in 2015 alone, 22,000 tenants were evicted across the city. But the city estimates that the new policy will serve 400,000 New Yorkers.

“We are taking our record progress on affordable housing and driving it even deeper. This crisis is hitting seniors on fixed incomes, veterans and struggling families especially hard. We’re fighting for their right to live in this city,” Mayor de Blasio said of his 2017 affordable housing agenda.

The State of the City address will take place tonight at 7:00pm from the Apollo Theater in Harlem.


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