2018-02-07 / Features

City Presents A Balanced Budget For 2019

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

With a stated goal of making New York “the fairest big city in America,” an $88.67 billion preliminary budget for fiscal year 2019 (FY19) was presented on February 1. The budget is balanced.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced his administration financed more than 24,536 affordable homes in 2017, more than in any prior year, and nearly half (48 percent) went to people making less than $33,400 per year, or $43,000 for a family of three.

So why were 163 units of affordable housing at Halletts Point not included?

According to a January 31 report in Politico, $43.5 million in financing for the 163-unit building that is part of the 2.4 million-square-foot mixed income complex of seven buildings by the Durst Organization that officially broke ground two years ago was at the root of the problem.

“Three days prior to HDC (Housing Development Corporation) board approval for our 100 percent affordable building’s bond financing, we were notified that the bonds were no longer available to us,” said Jordan Barowitz, Vice President Of Public Affairs for the Durst Organization.

“We have not heard from City Hall since then (November 17) and until we do, the future of the project is unknown,” he said in the Politico report.

“While this project is in our pipeline, this year’s volume cap allocations haven’t been made yet,” said Elizabeth Rohlfing, Vice President For Communications for the City’s Housing and Preservation Development Corporation in the same report.

Volume cap is the total amount of bond financing the city allows HPD to issue in a given fiscal year.

“There are many deserving affordable housing developments that are ready to go, and we constantly make tough choices to stretch precious resources as we ensure we get the best deals for New Yorkers,” said Rohlfing.

The building is planned to serve tenants earning up to $51,540 for a three-person household and Durst has agreed to also improve the grounds of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Astoria Houses where the building would be erected as well as retrofit four boilers there.

Bishop Mitchell Taylor, in the Politico report, said the project was “without question” a benefit to the Astoria Houses community.

“For one, they’re going to build a building that’s going to have affordable housing units on the NYCHA campus. There’s going to be some new boilers put in, some campus improvements, parking lot enhancements, and ground enhancements,” said Bishop Taylor.

Durst is still obligated to meet its prior commitment to the housing authority, including the boiler replacements, according to the Politico report but Barowitz, in the same report, said upgrades wouldn’t happen until Durst closes on the building.

“We were very optimistic about this particular development, and our prayer and hope is that the Durst Organization and the City of New York will find a way to overcome whatever the obstacles are so we can get the project going,” Bishop Taylor said in the report.

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