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Capital budget cuts a threat to hardworking New Yorkers

As the city faces one of its most severe public health and economic crises in history, affordable housing leaders and advocates are working tirelessly to ensure that New Yorkers have a safe and affordable place to call home.

However, the drastic cuts to housing proposed by Mayor de Blasio in the latest capital budget for New York City will cost hardworking New Yorkers the affordable housing they deserve.

The cuts threaten projects in the existing pipeline and inject uncertainty into the future of numerous other planned projects.

While our City’s leaders must make difficult decisions over a strained municipal budget, it is crucial that they fully restore funding for housing in order to protect the full pipeline of projects that are central to combatting our city’s affordable housing crisis.

Prior to the start of COVID-19, New York City was facing a crippling housing situation with more than 1.6 million residents living below the federal poverty line. With nearly a quarter of the city’s renters failing to make rent last month due to heightened levels of unemployment and economic hardships, the continued development and preservation of affordable housing is more important than ever before.

These cuts are dangerous and will only exacerbate a real emergency. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) faces a budget reduction of 40 percent over the next two years which would slow the production and preservation of much-needed affordable housing throughout the city. If enacted, the cuts would result in a loss of up to 21,000 units of affordable housing over the course of the next two years, according to a recent study conducted by the New York Housing Conference (NHC) and Council Members Brad Lander and Vanessa Gibson.

Those cuts would have an immediate impact on available financing for projects in-progress as well as those expected to be closed within the next two years.

Consider a development from Arker Companies at the site of the former Peninsula Hospital in Rockaway. The project plans to bring nearly 2,000 affordable apartments to the neighborhood. But the project is now in jeopardy due to the proposed budget cuts – and it is hardworking Queens families who will pay the price.

Another example is a development by Breaking Ground in the Bronx that would create 175 affordable units. This project is currently paused in its early stages of development because of a lack of available financing. Again, the families depending on the competition of those homes are paying the price.

The good news is that this is all preventable. If City Hall reverses these drastic cuts, these projects – and countless others across the five boroughs – can proceed as planned.

The New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH) was proud to join 161 other organizations and over a dozen elected officials in signing a letter urging Mayor de Blasio to change course. We will continue to fight for the housing that New York needs now more than ever.

It is time for our leaders to take action and protect the projects that are vital to combating our City’s affordable housing crisis. That begins by fully restoring the capital spending plan for housing.

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