A group of New York State Democrats want to revive the 1950s-era Mitchell-Lama program to build thousands of new units of middle-income housing in New York City, Yonkers, Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse. The Independent Democratic Conference, which the Journal describes as "a group of breakaway Democrats who share power in the state Senate with Republicans," unveiled a $750 million plan that would require the state to spend $150 million annually to fund more affordable mortgages for developers. The plan also calls for the state to create a new tax credit for the qualifying developments. In New York City, the housing would be aimed at families of four making $75,000 to $100,000, and monthly rents would be about $1,900 to $2,500.
Governor Cuomo recently unveiled a $100 million affordable housing plan, but it's unclear how supportive he would be of this type of plan for middle-income housing. John Kelly, an attorney who specializes in affordable housing told the Journal that it would likely come down to the allocation of resources. In other words, if enacting this plan would take money away from housing for low-income families, it would be harder to push through. The Mitchell-Lama program was enacted in 1955, and it created more than 100,000 units, 15,000 of which are in the Bronx's Co-op City. But the program allows buildings to voluntarily leave after 20 years by paying off the mortgage, and 93 of 169 state-supervised buildings have done so, thus the number of regulated middle-income units is dwindling. Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned with a "Tale of Two Cities" rhetoric that touted more resources for the middle class, and many local pols support subsidized middle income housing, so the plan will likely see strong support in the five boroughs. But the final decision lies with the governor.
· Push Begins to Jumpstart Mitchell-Lama in New York State [WSJ]
· Mitchell-Lama coverage [Curbed]
Photo of Co-op City via Wikipedia