downtownexpress.com

Volume 19 • Issue 13 | August 11 - 17, 2006

B.P.C. agency approves affordable housing money

By Ronda Kaysen

The Battery Park City Authority will contribute $130 million to a fund for 4,300 units of affordable housing in the city, part of a 10-year initiative to preserve and create 17,000 units of affordable housing.

The authority’s contribution will fund the New York City Housing Trust Fund over the next three years and provide seed money for another affordable housing fund, the Housing Acquisition Fund. The Housing Trust Fund will create and preserve affordable housing in three ways. It will subsidize units of affordable housing for low- and middle-income families; it will provide landlords incentives to preserve exiting units and create new ones; and it will fund the purchase of underutilized land to create new affordable housing.

“I’m delighted with the formation of this trust,” James Gill, chairperson of the Battery Park City Authority, said at the board of directors meeting last Monday, when the board voted to approve the $130 million contribution. “It will be incumbent upon the city to use this money for that purpose [affordable housing] only.”

The city will use $8 million of authority’s contribution to fund the New York Acquisition Fund, a $200 million program that will create or preserve $17,000 affordable units over the next 10 years.

“Today’s vote allows us to use Battery Park City Authority revenues to create affordable housing for some of the New Yorkers who need it most,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a prepared statement.  “The Housing Trust Fund is another example of how we are using new and innovative sources of funding to build and preserve affordable housing.”

The Acquisition Fund will also be funded with $32 million in philanthropic donations and $160 million in loans from the city’s banks and financial institutions. As developers repay their loans over the years, the fund will be replenished.

Bloomberg and Comptroller William Thompson devised the affordable housing plan last year. The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development will administer the Housing Trust Fund.

Out of the Housing Trust Fund, H.P.D. will use $70 million to develop and preserve 2,000 apartments for families earning below 30% of the median income, or $21,250 for a family of four, and those earning 60 percent of the median income, or $45,2540 to $56,700 for a family of four.)

It will use $35 million to preserve about 1,800 units of existing affording housing by either providing existing developers incentives to remain in affordable housing programs like Mitchell-Lama or find new developers willing to acquire the properties.

The fund will use $25 million to create 500 news affordable homes by acquiring underutilized state and city land. The fund will also reach out to churches, hospitals and universities that might be looking to unload land.

The Battery Park City Authority, a state agency, oversees the development of the 92-acre neighborhood. Every year, it contributes the neighborhood’s surplus revenue to the city. To date, the authority has contributed $1.2 billion the city’s coffers.

“That money has been generated and earned by the sweat of the brows of our staff,” Gill said. “We’ve been generating money for the city for a long, long time and we earn it the hard way.”

Originally two thirds of the neighborhood apartments on prime waterfront property were to be affordable, but the state and city adjusted the plan about 20 years ago because officials argued more below-market homes could be built in other parts of the city. In 1989, the state allowed the city to shift the money into the city’s general revenue fund, a practice that continued until Bloomberg and Thompson announced the policy change last year.



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