The city's homelessness crisis doesn't seem to have any end in sight in the neat future, and homeless shelter opponents are taking their show on the road. Seeking some kind of way to stem the tide of homeless residents in the city, the de Blasio administration has begun to require buildings that get 421-a tax credits to house homeless families.
The city's new policy was introduced "over the past several weeks" according to the Times. Under the new guidelines, half of the affordable apartments in a 421-a building still go to a public lottery. But now, half of the units set aside for what's known as community preferences will be given to people living in homeless shelters. Community-preference set asides have also been used to reserve buildings for people with disabilities, veterans, and residents of the neighborhood where the building is constructed.
While no new 421-a credits are currently being given out, there are still a number of buildings that received them before the program lapsed this year. The city's housing commissioner, Vicki Been, told developers at a meeting at the offices of the Real Estate Board of New York that the units for homeless people would go towards employed people in homeless shelters who had previously lived in a neighborhood where a building was going up. She also characterized the potential tenants as people who wouldn't need social services on-site.
Reaction among developers at the meeting was split. Jeffrey Levine, president of Douglas Development, said, "I see this as helping the city deal with what is clearly a prominent issue today." Ron Moelis, an executive of L&M Partners, said he was okay with the policy change as long as developers could still interview prospective tenants from homeless shelters the same way they do for current prospective affordable unit tenants.
Gary Barnett of Extell Development, however, was skeptical of the new rules.
"It's unfair to change the rules of the game overnight for very little public benefit. I think it would put the entire 421-a program at risk, a program that has generated tens of thousands of affordable units,” he told the Times.
While state leaders are still negotiating a renewal of the program, construction permits for residential units have rebounded to their 2014 numbers according to a recent report, even without 421-a credits.