Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration abruptly and inexplicably halted funding for an affordable housing project in Astoria last fall, months after he and the developer, Douglas Durst, had a public argument over campaign donations.
The city's Housing Development Corporation was planning to issue $43.5 million in financing for a 163-unit development that is part of the sprawling Hallets Point project Durst is constructing in Queens. This particular building is planned for tenants earning up to 60 percent of the area median income, which amounts to $51,540 for a three-person household.
But the corporation pulled it from its agenda just days before its Nov. 17 meeting and reallocated the bonding authority, POLITICO recently learned.
The shift doesn't only impact the building in question and the seven-building, mixed-income Hallets project. It also stalls Durst's agreement to spruce up the grounds of the New York City Housing Authority's Astoria Houses development on which the building would be erected, and retrofit four boilers.
"Three days prior to HDC board approval for our 100 percent affordable building's bond financing, we were notified that the bonds were no longer available to us," Durst spokesman Jordan Barowitz said on Tuesday. "We have not heard from City Hall since then, and until we do, the future of the project is unknown."
Asked for an explanation, a city spokeswoman said projects are competing for tax-exempt bonds that many fear are under threat from federal cuts. The financing tool is always, however, a limited resource sought by competing projects.
She also pointed out this particular project would support other market-rate apartments in the Hallet’s development, even though this building would be entirely for low-income tenants.