URBAN AGENDA: Averting the Impending Subsidized Housing Crisis

DAVID R. JONES | 3/8/2018, midnight
Mitchell-Lama housing was a pillar in the New York City campaign to provide affordable housing to low and moderate-income families.
David R. Jones Contributed

Then there are LIHTC apartment units: the CSS study projects that 15,000 LIHTC units will become eligible to exit their affordability restrictions between 2020 and 2022. The new federal income tax overhaul creates problems for LIHTC by lowering the value of low income tax credit, which means cities can support fewer projects.

Despite the ominous signs, there is a lot more that could be done to support subsidized housing. We are recommending that the city and state pilot rental assistance and operating subsidies programs. A LIHTC taskforce should also be convened to plan for the long-term preservation of tax credit supported housing and engagement of LIHTC tenants in the preservation process. The State’s rent laws should be strengthened to benefit low income tenants across the board.

To be sure, of all of New Yorkers negatively affected by federal housing cuts, public housing residents will likely experience the largest impact. Public housing has been severely underfunded for decades. Mayor de Blasio deserves credit for embracing preservation of existing apartment developments earlier this year in the form of $200 million funding for boiler and hot water systems upgrades at NYCHA developments. He is also urging state and federal officials to step in with more funding as well.

But the mayor and City Council need to go further. There remains too much of a disparity between what the City spends to build “affordable housing” and its parallel investment in public housing, which is a key source of housing for the city’s lowest income residents.

In the end, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio must take the leadership role in order to coordinate a full-throated response to the impending housing crisis.

David R. Jones, Esq., is President and CEO of the Community Service Society of New York (CSS), the leading voice on behalf of low-income New Yorkers for more than 170 years. The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. The Urban Agenda is available on CSS’s website: www.cssny.org.