De Blasio criticizes Quinn plan as ‘big giveaway’ to real estate industry.
By Orlando Lee Rodriguez
In a preview of what changes landlords could face from a potential Mayor Christine Quinn administration, the current City Council speaker said that current housing codes are outdated and inadequate and would face a major overhaul if she were elected.
Quinn, delivering her ‘State of the City’ address last week, indicated that building owners would face steeper fines for code violations and that Department of Buildings inspectors would wield much wider power than they do today.
“We’re going to undertake the first top-to-bottom overhaul of the city’s housing maintenance code since its creation,” Quinn said “We’ll create new penalties for new violations. If you keep trying to get away with a quick fix, you will pay.”
“We hear horror stories all the time, apartments that cost a lot for somebody to rent but have fallen into disrepair. How do we tell teachers or construction workers to stay or move here if we can’t guarantee that the money they are paying for housing is well spent?” she said.
Quinn, currently considered to be the Democratic front runner, touted her involvement in the passage of the ‘Safe Housing Act’ and ‘The Tenant Protection Act’ which gives tenants more power in suing landlords who seek to convert their buildings to market rent for harassment.
She also outlined the plan for passing the ‘Permanent Affordability Act’ at the state level.
The bill, introduced by State Senator Martin J. Golden and housing committee chair Assembly Member Keith L.T. Wright, would essentially re-create an affordability program similar to the Mitchell Llama program, with tax cap rates renewable every 30-years.
“The permanent affordability act will allow us to give building owners a new tax exemption by capping their property taxes at a certain percentage of their rental income,” Quinn said. “In exchange we’ll require they keep their units affordable. This bill will create permanent affordability for thousands of the units that we’ll build under my administration. It also can be applied for existing units.”
However, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, also a mayoral candidate, accused Quinn of pandering to the real estate industry with her housing plan, saying her tax cap proposal for 80/20 and 421a units bear too much of a similarity to one proposed by the Real Estate Board of New York two years ago.
“Chris Quinn’s so-called affordable housing plan is a very big giveaway to powerful real estate interests,” said de Blasio. “It’s such a big giveaway that even Michael Bloomberg thought that it was unfair and too kind to the real estate industry. When the mayor says it’s fiscally irresponsible to give so much money to the wealthy you know you have a problem.”
“This plan Quinn put forward emanated from the real estate industry. It’s obviously a plan built with their own interests in mind. If we’re going to address the affordable housing crisis we’re not going to get anywhere if we keep giving away the store to powerful business interests,” he said.
However, the language in Quinn’s speech did not infer allowing real estate market prices to rise as much as the market would allow. During her speech, she outlined that her potential administration would look to create 40,000 middle-income apartments over the next 10 years and control the growth of rental and sales prices.
“I refuse to accept the notion that large portions of our city are destined to become a luxury only available to the wealthiest among us,” Quinn said. “Because it won’t stop with Manhattan, if we don’t reverse this trend now, Park Slope and Carroll Gardens will be next, then Astoria and Long Island City, Throggs Neck and St. George and maybe someday the whole city.”