Though the United States Supreme Court opted last month not to hear the tenants’ and property owners’ challenge to the state’s use of eminent domain power to facilitate the Ratner mega-project, lawyers filed suit last week in New York State Supreme Court citing a clause in the state’s bylaws that bars public money from underwriting any urban renewal project unless “the occupancy of any such project shall be restricted to persons of low income.”
It’s unconstitutional! Yards foes pull out new ace in the hole
Ratner’s development, which is slated to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in direct public subsidies and tax breaks, includes thousands of units of market-rate housing. That appears to be a violation of Article 18, section 6 of the state Constitution, which was adopted during the Depression.
But plaintiff’s lawyer Matt Brinckerhoff believes that his existing argument, coupled with the new interpretation of New York’s constitution, will win the day in state court.
“The language is plain,” he said. “That clause was written during the Depression for the clear purpose of clearing slum conditions with state subsidies and that any subsidized slum replacement must create low-income housing and nothing else. That is what the law says. There is no nuance.”
Article 18, section 8 of the NYS constitution states:
No loan, or subsidy shall be made by the state to aid any project unless such project is in conformity with a plan or undertaking for the clearance, replanning and reconstruction or rehabilitation of a sub-standard and unsanitary area or areas and for recreational and other facilities incidental or appurtenant thereto. The legislature may provide additional conditions to the making of such loans or subsidies consistent with the purposes of this article. The occupancy of any such project shall be restricted to persons of low income as defined by law and preference shall be given to persons who live or shall have lived in such area or areas.