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Hochul’s Sketchy 421a Tax Abatement Reform Challenged Amidst New York Housing Crisis

New York, NY – The New York City District Council of Carpenters [NYCDCC] is warning any plan to replace the city’s controversial 421a tax abatement program will be a “failure” if workers building new housing units can’t afford to live in them.  

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul.

“To truly overcome our affordability crisis, we must address it holistically,” Executive Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Geiger told LaborPress in an email. “That requires not only redefining ‘affordable housing’ so it’s actually affordable, but also paying the workers building those units a prevailing wage which includes good pay, benefits, and the ability to retire in dignity. Until the workers building affordable housing can afford to live in the unit, any 421a replacement is a failure.”

Governor Kathy Hochul, successor to scandal-riddled former chief executive Andrew Cuomo,  talked about replacing the expiring 421a tax abatement program with a “different kind of abatement program” during the 2022 State of the State address delivered earlier this week. 

The 421a tax abatement program was originally created in the early 1970s as a way to “incentivize” big time developers to build more housing in New York. It was last renewed in 2017 amidst much controversy and remains a boon for real estate developers who see about $1.7 billion in property taxes forgiven each year. 

Hochul Ignores Looming Evictions

Democratic-Socialists in the State Senate and Assembly blasted Hochul for ignoring New York’s eviction moratorium set to expire on January 15, and seeking to replace “the state’s most outrageous giveaway to luxury developers” with a “new subsidy that includes ill-defined metrics for affordability.”

“If the ‘days of New Yorkers questioning whether the government is actually working for them are over,’ then we must follow through and fight for bold investments that will improve the quality of life for working class New Yorkers,” Senators Julia Salazar and Jabari Brisport, along with Assembly Members Zohran Mamdani, Emily Gallagher, Marcela Mitaynes and Phara Souffrant-Forrest said in a statement. 

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who is challenging Hochul for the governorship, said the 100,000 affordable homes and 10,000 supportive housing units the current governor talked about in the State of the State address is a “drop in the bucket and not enough for New York City let alone the state.”

“We haven’t had new idea around new housing since Mitchell-Lama,” the public advocate told reporters this week. “We have to be open to revenue-raising options and we have to have that conversation in a civic-minded way. We can be creative and bold to get these things done.” 

The NYCDCC consists of nine different locals representing some 20,000 trade unionists – all of whom need truly affordable housing for themselves and their families.

“Governor Hochul knows the best way to a full recovery is to invest in union jobs,” Geiger said. “The Carpenters are ready to work on the many projects coming New York’s way thanks to the historic, bi-partisan infrastructure bill, and we are thrilled to see the Governor to continue to commit to city-based projects that will grow our economy and build a better New York City.”

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