As U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens) begins a reelection year, a real estate-backed housing group has expressed political support for his housing proposals. An election year platform put forth by U.S. Rep. Crowley, named, "A Better Deal for Queens and The Bronx," includes a proposal to offer tenants rent relief in the form of a tax credit. U.S. Rep. Crowley has received political support from the real estate-linked group as published reports have revealed that he is relying on real estate developers as sources of donations to three of his political committees.
The group that is backing U.S. Rep. Crowley's housing policies, the New York Housing Conference Inc., is a real estate developer-backed nonprofit group. Its Board of Directors includes Mark Willis, a senior policy fellow at the NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, a political think tank that is funded by real estate developers. Its Advisory Board includes Aaron Koffman from The Hudson Companies Inc. and Ronald Moelis from L+M Development Partners. The Hudson Companies Inc. was briefly the subject of a probe in connection with a reported Federal corruption investigation after the de Blasio administration agreed to sell the Brooklyn Heights Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library to the politically-connected real estate development firm. L+M Development Partners was one of the real estate development firms that invested in a consortium that, in turn, bought, in secret, a portfolio of project-based, Section 8 apartment complexes from a cash-strapped New York City Housing Authority.
The tax credit that U.S. Rep. Crowley is offering tenants, which is the key provision in the Rent Relief Act (H.R. 3670), stops short of regulating residential rents paid for by tenants. Instead, it forces the Government to essentially subsidise the upward spiraling rents paid by tenants by giving tenants a tax credit for rent paid in excess of 30 per cent. of a tenant's income. Separately, U.S. Rep. Crowley has expressed support for the Family Self-Sufficiency Act (H.R. 4258), which would advance the Government's receding commitment to public housing under the New Deal-era law, the Housing Act of 1937 and, instead, place more emphasis on the Section 8 housing voucher program.
Rachel Fee, the executive director of New York Housing Coalition Inc., did not immediately answer advance questions submitted by Progress Queens for this report. Lauren French, a spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Crowley, did not answer a press inquiry.