New York City loses tens of thousands of affordable apartments each year to deregulation. Under the "framework" of an agreement to extend rent laws announced today by Governor Cuomo and the two leaders of the state legislature, the city will keep on losing them.
At a press conference this afternoon, the "Three Men In A Room," told reporters that the city's recently expired rent laws would be renewed for four more years.
Earlier this month, the Assembly passed a bill that would repeal the state's vacancy decontrol law, which allows landlords to jack up the rent on regulated apartments as soon as a tenant leaves and perpetuates a system of inequality.
That change was eliminated.
Instead, the leaders promised to do what they did in 2011: modestly increase the rent at which a rent-regulated apartment could be deregulated, from $2,500 to $2,700.
As for the $1.1 billion annual tax credit for luxury developers known as 421-a, the leaders said they would extend it for another six months, so that the real estate lobby and the unions can agree on a prevailing wage for workers (and so developers can squeeze more of your sweet tax dollars out of the current law). [See the update below.]
Decoupling 421-a from the rent regulations also removes any leverage the (real-estate influenced) Democratic Assembly might have had over the (real-estate controlled) Republican Senate. Governor Glenwood, indeed.
"Sometimes we have an unhealthy appetite for bad news, and there was all sorts of speculation about how this would work or not work, and Albany was descending into dysfunction and chaos," Cuomo said. "I’m glad to report that the exact opposite has happened. Both leaders stepped up and performed."
"We're deeply disappointed and disturbed," Ilana Maier, the program director for the Metropolitan Council for Housing told us after the announcement. "It's unfortunate that Cuomo has sided with wealthy developers and not with the hardworking families of New York."
In a release, The Alliance for Tenant Power estimated that the city will lose as many as 100,000 rent-regulated apartments in the four-year extender because of the lack of reforms.
"He took no action at all to strengthen the rent laws," Katie Goldstein, the group's leader said. "Cuomo made empty promises and lied repeatedly while helping the Senate Republicans advance a bill that is a massive giveaway to landlords."
As part of the deal, Cuomo said that he will appoint the attorney general as a special prosecutor to oversee fatal shootings by the police, and he will sign an order to move 16 and 17-year-olds to separate prisons from adults. Private and charter schools will get $250 million, and upstate and suburban homeowners will get $1.3 billion in tax credits.
"This is a great agreement — great,” Cuomo told reporters, according to Capital Confidential.
“It was unprecedented, the tumult — put aside the personal tumult, just governmentally,” he said, referring to the death of his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, and the cancer battle facing his partner Sandra Lee. “And you all — rightfully so — said, ‘Jeez, all this tumult, all this change, how can they possibly do it? Albany may slip back to the old dysfunction; Albany may slip back to the old chaos. Can the Senate leader step up? Can the Speaker step up? Can the governor overcome personal travails?’ Buh-ba-buh-boooooom. And we get now to … the last chapter of your drama that was playing out over the first few months.”
The leaders still have to get their members to agree to the deal. No mention was made of the MTA.
[UPDATE] The Real Estate Board of New York released a statement from president Steve Spinola that suggests that 421-a will be extended for 4 years, but that it will look more like what de Blasio and the REBNY proposed earlier this spring:
Our understanding is that State leaders have agreed to a 4-year 421-a program, based upon the City’s framework, that will result in much more affordable housing throughout New York City for a broader range of income levels. While we need to review the language of the legislation that is put forward, we would like to thank the State leaders for the leadership they have demonstrated. We look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio, his administration and other stakeholders to ensure the program is implemented in a manner that maximizes the amount of new affordable housing created as well as good-paying jobs for the residents of New York City.