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City tweaks 421-a to include housing for homeless New Yorkers

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Pertains to under-construction projects that benefitted from the program before it expired

Talks to revive the 421-a tax break program are moving forward, but while its future still remains uncertain, the De Blasio administration has decided to take measures for under-construction buildings that already benefitted from the program before it expired this January.

In a new policy that was quietly introduced over the past few weeks, developers who benefitted from the program will now have to set aside some of their units for the homeless, the New York Times reports.

While the program was still in effect, developers were exempt from paying taxes on any particular project (for a certain time) where they offered at least 20 percent of the apartments as affordable. Half of those apartments were assigned through affordable housing lotteries and the other were set aside for community preferences—this could include people with disabilities, veterans or seniors.

Under this new policy, half of the community preference units will now be set aside for people living in homeless shelters. As you can imagine, developers weren’t too thrilled by this relatively hush hush announcement, and the most notable critic so far has been Extell’s Gary Barnett (remember the controversy over his “poor door” development on the Upper West Side?)

Developers have expressed fears that this policy will open up their buildings to people with substance abuse and mental health problems. But the city countered those fears by saying that the apartments are not open to people who need a variety of social services but rather those who were priced out.

A few other developers like the heads of L&M Partners, Douglaston Development, and Rose Associates were all on board for the most part but still had some concerns in that they wanted to reserve the right to interview tenants, and were concerned about tenants in under-construction developments who had already been told that they were getting a subsidized apartment.

For now, de Blasio’s mandate is here to stay with people living in homeless shelters having skyrocketed in the last three years going from 51,000 to around 60,000 people.