Here's how the Affordable Housing Fable goes: the real estate lobby is a delicate flower that must be nourished with praise and public money so that its profit-generating, market rate structures can pollinate a few rooms for normal New Yorkers to live in. Any Serious Person will tell you: this is the only way! But does this all-carrot-no-stick method actually build meaningful amounts of affordable housing? Sure, if you can afford a $100 million penthouse.

The Times helpfully points out this morning that the controversial 421-a program, which grants huge property tax benefits to developers in the hope that they will also construct affordable housing, helped build 150,000 new apartments at the cost of $1 billion in 2013 alone; yet only 12,748 of those were affordable.

One of the units that recently benefited from the program, which was created in the early '70s, when developers couldn't fathom installing courtyard waterfalls near the Williamsburg waterfront, is the $100.5 million penthouse at One57 in Midtown's Billionaire's Row. Taxpayers (you) will pick up 95% of the unit's property tax bill this year, which comes out to a savings of $360,000.

New York City loses 11,000 affordable units each year to deregulation, so 421-a's gift to 2013 was pretty much a wash.

“It’s time for 421-a to go away,” Maritza Silver-Farrell of Real Affordability for All told the Times. “We are being forced to subsidize luxury developers who build apartments the vast majority of New York City residents cannot ever afford.”

This was the theme at last week's City Council oversight hearing on 421-a, which is set to expire this summer.

Mayor de Blasio has signaled that he wants to pair 421-a with the principal of mandatory inclusionary zoning, and require 20% of the units built under the program to be affordable; 30% for buildings in Manhattan. The mayor recently touted the news that his administration had saved or built 17,000 affordable units in 2014, but a sizable amount of those projects began under the Bloomberg administration.

Should the fate of our city rest on the consciences of the rich? If only there was a better way!