In a change from last year, the de Blasio administration will let some residential developers double or even triple-dip into subsidy pools by using the same group of affordable apartments to qualify for a variety of programs—a practice it initially pledged to eliminate.
The pivot came to light as details of two housing programs were released in recent weeks. First, in late June the state legislature took a cue from the mayor and passed preliminary reforms to a property tax exemption called 421-a, requiring developers to set aside 25% to 30% of apartments in new buildings as affordable housing.
Then last Friday, the administration discussed the specifics of a new proposal called mandatory inclusionary zoning. The policy, which must be approved by the City Council, would set strict new affordability rules for any property that is rezoned, whether through a neighborhood-wide initiative or an individual property owner's request. In those situations, developers must also set aside up to 30% of all new condo or rental buildings as affordable.
The administration had initially envisioned developers meeting the requirements for these two programs separately, drawing a hard line against “double dipping” into multiple subsidy pools, which it believed limited the creation of low-cost units. In other words, affordable apartments built to satisfy inclusionary zoning requirements couldn’t also be used to meet 421-a benchmarks.
“If you want the tax exemption, you will have to do more," Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen told Crain’s in September, when the programs were still in their conceptual phases.
But the policies unveiled since then show a different approach.