, Tue, September 15, 2015
Historic brownstones in Brooklyn Heights via City Realty
The war wages on between the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and citywide preservationists. Many thought the contention between the groups over whether or not historic districts lessen affordable housing was a personal sentiment of former REBNY president Steven Spinola. But his successor John Banks has released a new report that claims landmarking doesn’t protect affordable housing.
The report looks at the number of rent-stabilized units in landmarked and non-landmarked districts between 2007 and 2014, finding that “citywide, landmarked properties lost rent stabilized units (-22.5%) at a much higher rate (-5.1%) than non-landmarked properties.” Of course preservationists quickly fired back. Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) calls the study “bogus” and says it does nothing to address how many units would have been lost had these areas not been landmarked.
More on the report
At the end of last month, the Rent Guidelines Board voted to freeze rents for the first time on one-year leases for the city’s more than one million rent stabilized apartments, which make up about 47% of the city’s total rental units. They also increased rents on two-year leases by only two percent, the lowest in the board’s 46 years. While this historic ruling is a huge win for tenants, it doesn’t bring back the astonishing number of apartments that have been deregulated. Since 1994, nearly 250,000 units have lost rent regulation protections, and over these past eight years alone, New York City has lost more than 50,000 rent stabilized apartments.
To put that staggering number into perspective, cartographer John Krauss has put together a handy map that shows where all of these 50,000 apartments are located (h/t Gothamist). Using scraped tax bills, he plotted changes in the number of rent-stabilized units, building by building.
How did your neighborhood fare?
Mayor de Blasio via @KevinCase via photopin cc; One57 © Wade Zimmerman courtesy of Agence Christian de Portzamparc (ACDP)
From the onset, Mayor de Blasio has been extremely vocal about his plan to add 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years, 80,000 of which will be new construction. Though many feel this is an arbitrary number, backed up by no data as to where the units will be, the Mayor seems committed to reforming current policies to reach his goal. And after months of speculation, he has revealed his planned changes to the city’s 421-a tax incentive program, which is set to expire in June.
According to the Times, under his proposal, the controversial tax would no longer apply to condo projects (to understand the logic behind this decision just look at the $100 million sale at One57 that received the tax abatement). But it would apply to new rental projects, which would have to have apartments for poor and working-class residents make up 20 to 30 percent of the building in order to qualify for city tax breaks. It would also extend the abatement from 25 years to 35 years. Another part of the overhaul is to eliminate so-called poor doors.
De Blasio also wants to up the city’s mansion tax. Currently, home sales over $1 million are subject to a 1 percent tax, but de Blasio proposes adding an additional 1 percent tax for sales over $1.75 million, as well as a third 1.5 percent tax for sales over $5 million. He estimates this will bring in an extra $200 million a year in tax revenue, money that would be allocated to affordable housing programs.
More details ahead
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.
Find out more here