The Mayor’s Administration moves to deepen affordability of housing for lowest-income families and to aid more senior citizens. On February 10, 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced two new housing initiatives to help seniors, veterans and families who are suffering the most from the housing crisis. The Mayor intends to increase by 10,000 the number of apartments in Housing New York serving households earning less than $40,000 a year. Of those additional 10,000, the Mayor will dedicate 5,000 to senior citizens and 500 to veterans. The Mayor will dedicate $1.9 billion to the expansion of this housing. The second initiative is an Elder Rent Assistance program to serve more than 25,000 seniors with monthly rental assistance up to $1,300. The new program is expected to be funded by the Mayor’s proposed ‘Mansion Tax.’
In July 2016 the Mayoral Administration announced the creation 23,284 affordable homes in Fiscal Year 2016—achieving the second highest production of affordable homes within one year in the history of New York City. Housing New York plan intends to build 200,000 affordable homes in 10 years. In total, 52,936 affordable homes were financed by the end of the Housing New York plan’s second year, which is enough to house 130,000 New Yorkers. Included in that total was the 3,500 new apartments created to house the poorest New Yorkers, who earn less than $24,000 annually. Further, the City was in the process of creating 4,000 affordable senior housing units for low-income seniors. For CityLand’s previous coverage on the Housing New York plan, click here and here.
The new benchmark for Housing New York to serve an additional 10,000 families earning less than $40,000 will mean an increase of funding to the Extremely Low & Low-Income Affordability Program and the Senior Affordable Rental Apartments Program. The Mayor’s commitment of an additional $1.9 billion will go to funding these programs through the duration of the Housing New York plan.
The revenue from the proposed ‘Mansion Tax’ would be allocated to fund senior affordable housing in New York City. The proposed tax would institute a 2.5 percent marginal tax for incremental prices over $2 million. The proposed tax is projected to generate $336 million in Fiscal Year 2018. The funds would be devoted to the new senior rental assistance program to serve 25,000 residents over the age of 62 and earning less than $50,000 a year. The program would ensure that a senior citizen collecting a monthly Social Security check of $1,350 would be required to spend no more than $450 per month on rent.
“We are taking our record progress on affordable housing and driving it even deeper. This crisis is hitting seniors on fixed incomes, veterans and struggling families especially hard. We’re fighting for their right to live in this city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
“The City’s unaffordable housing crisis is felt by all but particularly by vulnerable seniors who may live on a fixed income. These new initiatives show progress for seniors and low-income New Yonkers, who are struggling to find stable affordable homes,” said Councilman Ritchie Torres of the Bronx.
“Too many of today’s seniors are living in poverty and too many of our Boomers and Gen Xers who are approaching retirement don’t have sufficient savings to afford New York City’s high cost of living, particularly for housing. Today’s announcement by Mayor de Blasio is great news for city seniors and all New Yorkers,” said Chris Widelo, Associate State Director, AARP New York.
By: Jonathon Sizemore (Jonathon is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2016).