2007-07-04 / Features

Legislature Side-Steps Mayor's Housing Proposal, Passes Own Version

BY JOHN TOSCANO

State Senator John D. Sabini, speaking, was joined by Assemblymember Jose Peralta, at right, and other Queens housing advocates to announce new affordable housing zones in Queens, including two in Senate District 13, designated as part of legislation passed in the state legislature last week. State Senator John D. Sabini, speaking, was joined by Assemblymember Jose Peralta, at right, and other Queens housing advocates to announce new affordable housing zones in Queens, including two in Senate District 13, designated as part of legislation passed in the state legislature last week. State Senator John Sabini and Assemblymember Jose Peralta called on Governor Eliot Spitzer to sign into law a bill passed at the end of the recent legislative session that will bring desperately needed affordable housing into Queens as soon as possible.

Sabini said in a release that new zones were created in Woodside, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Corona where construction of affordable housing will be authorized.

However, a story in the New York Times of June 29 said that the bill which passed was not the one sent up to Albany by the Bloomberg mayoral administration. It does not include the affordable housing plan announced by the mayor to be built in the Queens West development area in Hunters Point, the story said.

The Times story said the bill finally approved by the legislature to create so-called 421a zones was introduced by Assemblymember Vito Lopez (D- Brooklyn), who is also the Kings County Democratic leader.

Sabini (D- Jackson Heights) said he urged the governor to sign into law the bill which passed the legislature on the last day of the session.

He stated he had hoped to have his entire senate district included as an affordable housing zone, but was satisfied that the approved bill "is a good start that I am proud of".

The two zones approved for the new housing that are in Sabini's and Peralta's districts are in Woodside between 54th and 69th Streets and 39th Avenue and Broadway and in the Elmhurst/Jackson Heights/Corona area is bounded by 69th and 94th Streets, 52nd Avenue and Northern Boulevard.

Peralta (D- Corona) said the approved bill is a first step, ensuring that all communities that are experiencing the building boom get the housing opportunity they deserve, and guarantees that the working men and women of this state do not get displaced.

"The initiative is a win-win for everyone involved," he added.

Sabini explained that the 421a exclusionary zones provide a 25- year property tax break to housing developers who set aside at least 20 percent of their units for low- and middle-income New Yorkers.

He said the building projects must have at least 50 units and the units must be rent-stabilized for 40 years. To be eligible, Sabini said, a tenant must make less than 60 percent of the median income for the area. The tenants' rent is stabilized for as long as he or she is in occupancy.

Sabini's release said the other exclusionary zones in Queens are in an unspecified area of Hunters Point and in Flushing on a site bounded by the Van Wyck Expressway, College Point Boulevard and Fowler Avenue.

Lopez, chairman of the Assembly Housing Committee, said his bill is aimed at housing for the poor and working-class New Yorkers. In contrast, some housing advocates had criticized the mayor's Queens West project as being for middle-income people, rather than members of the lower economic classes.

Lopez reportedly did not reach out to the Bloomberg administration to discuss the mayor's proposed affordable housing plan before he formulated his own bill, which the Assembly eventually passed.

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