New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Nearly Six Thousand Units of Affordable Housing Preserved or Created, High Subsidies Exposed, Affordability Retained, Third Party Transfer Reformed, Subsidized Gentrification Challenged, and Legislation Introduced by Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions

“Nearly six thousand units of affordable housing preservation and construction spanning more than sixty projects on city land have come through the Planning, Dispositions, and Concessions subcommittee while I served as Chair.

Uncovered High Subsidies

“I fought to ensure every tax dollar is going to build the most affordable housing for the lowest-income New Yorkers. We exposed high subsidies on affordable housing properties that almost had to pay the Mansion Tax.

“We’ve uncovered how much the city is spending on each unit of affordable housing by forcing HPD to disclose land value, tax abatements in net present value and over the course of their terms, subsidies, and zoning rights.”

Third Party Transfer

“Third Party Transfer has been reformed following questions I raised, along with Housing and Buildings Chair Robert Cornegy, around taking properties from tenant-owned Housing Development Finance Corporations (HDFC). Under Third Party Transfer, properties with tax liens that are often indicative of an absentee landlord are foreclosed upon, tax liens and water debt forgiven and transferred to a developer who receives subsidies to rehabilitate the property and maintain it as affordable housing for a set amount of time. I argued that these same benefits should be available to tenant-owned HDFCs. HDFCs previously slated for Third Party Transfer are now retaining their properties with their tax liens forgiven and subsidies offered to rehabilitate.

Pushing for Low Income and Maintaining Affordability

“We won citywide changes for affordable housing to remain more affordable to lower income New Yorkers. Previously affordable housing units created under the ‘Multifamily Disposition and Finance Term Sheet’ could be offered at ‘Middle-Income’ residents earning up to 150% of the AMI between $109,650 and $181,500. Now as affordable housing becomes vacant it will be restricted to ‘Moderate-Income’ residents earning up to 120% of the AMI between $87,770 and $145,200. This is a step in the right direction.

“We’ve increased the homeless set aside in partnership with Land Use Chair Rafael Salamanca, General Welfare Chair Stephen Levin, and each local council member on a project by project basis. I’ve co-sponsored legislation to mandate a 15% homeless set aside for all subsidized affordable housing.

Low Wages Making Affordable Housing Crisis Worse

“Paying poverty wages to construction and service workers who are building and maintaining affordable housing is only making the crisis worse. Workers being paid a minimum wage without health insurance, disability, or retirement benefits, are making a maximum of $27,300 a year, leaving them in the ‘Extremely Low-Income’ bracket of 0% – 30% of Area Median Income. I have pointed this out at hearing after hearing, that many of these projects with low pay are only making the affordable housing crisis worse. That is why I’ve reintroduced legislation to require prevailing wages on all affordable housing receiving tax dollars.

Pushed for Real Affordability for Local Residents

“I consistently raised concerns that developers were receiving government subsidies to build housing set for incomes that would gentrify low-income communities of color with affordable rents that actually exceeded local market rents. By comparing planned affordable rates to median incomes in the local Census Tracts we identified when a project would be unaffordable to local residents. We worked with local Council Members to get developers to adjust rates for create deeper ffordability for the local community.”

Accessible Affordable Housing

“As our city ages, I’ve advocated for accessibility and questioned projects for not including elevators or even accessible entrances.

Exposing Conflicts of Interest

“I’ve introduced legislation to force affordable housing developers to disclose their relationships with politicians and the city agencies that decide who gets subsidies.

Focus on Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises

“At every hearing I asked developers about MWBE as well as women and people of color on the board, in leadership, certification, for them and their contractors to ensure as much city-subsidized business goes to minority and women owned business enterprises as possible.

Questioning Rising “Soft Costs” to Build Affordable Housing

“Many construction costs are unavoidable when building affordable housing, but if the City is paying developers and architects steadily increasing fees, we’re not getting the best bang for our buck. As chair I questioned these rising ‘soft costs’ to make sure we get as much affordable housing as we pay for.

Pressed for affordable storefronts to support mom and pops

“Whenever we build affordable housing with a commercial component, we should do everything we can to support mom and pop retail. As chair I asked developers how they planned to use their retail space and encouraged them to preference small businesses over chain bank locations.”

Jobs for New Yorkers

“My favorite part of the committee was asking developers to share where residents watching at home could get jobs as part of their local hire requirements.

Contracts Committee

“I look forward to bringing the same scrutiny I brought to affordable housing in our city to each and every contract.

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