Affordable Housing

City to focus on affordable housing for seniors and veterans, mansion tax 2.0 in 2017

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Earlier this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced that the city will allocate $93 million over the next five years to provide free legal advice to tenants facing eviction who have household incomes less than $50,000.

“We are the biggest city in the country to level the playing field between tenants and landlords in housing court," de Blasio said in a statement. "To anyone being forced out of their home or neighborhood, we are fighting for you. This is still your city."

The mayor reiterated that sentiment on Monday night at his annual State of the City address at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. The mayor also pledged to add 100,000 “good-paying” jobs over the 10 years, including 40,000 in the next four. He said he'd speak "in the coming weeks" about homelessness, congestion problems on the streets, but chose to focus on unaffordability and income inequality for his address at the Apollo.

“Who we are is threatened by an affordability crisis,” he said. “This city simply must do more and must do it quickly," he said on Monday night.  Below, a rundown of the mayor's plans for real estate in the city.

More affordable housing for seniors, veterans and low-income tenants

De Blasio plans to add more than 15,000 afforable housing units for seniors, veterans and low-income tenants. The breakdown, he says, is as follows: 10,000 more apartments for tenants making up to $40,000 a year, 5,000 apartments for senior citizens, and 500 for veterans. (As note up above, the mayor didn't speak extensively about the problem of homelessness in the city, which the New York Times describes as "one of the biggest stumbling blocks for his administration.")

Challenging the "landlord lobby"

While he didn't name them, referring to them simply as the "landlord lobby," de Blasio pledged to defeat the Rent Stabilization Association's challenge to the rent freeze, as well as a lawsuit filed in response to a proposed water tax credit for some homeowners.

Push for "mansion tax" 2.0

The mayor repeated his call for a new mansion tax that would impose a 2.5 percent property transfer tax on all sales over $2 million (this in addition to the current mansion tax imposed on properties over $1 million). The mayor believes this tax would generate $336 million a year, and subsidize rent payments for 25,000 units for senior citizens, a statement that, according to The Real Deal, inspired chants from AARP members in the balcony of “Mansion tax now!”

There has, of course, been pushback against the notion of an additional mansion tax. In January, the New York Daily News reported the state's Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Republican representing Suffolk County, called de Blasio’s plan a “non-starter” among GOP representatives who, as he put it, "don’t like to raise taxes."

The city doesn't decide on the fate of the mansion tax, and it has to be approved by Albany. And with the State Senate controlled by Republicans, it's not likely to get approval.