Mayor de Blasio Announces New Program to Save City's Remaining Affordable Mitchell-Lama Developments

October 26, 2017

Key piece of City’s accelerated 300,000-apartment affordable housing plan will invest $250 million to protect 15,000 Mitchell-Lama apartments at risk of flipping to market-rate

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a new Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program to protect the long-term affordability of the City’s remaining Mitchell-Lama developments.  Nearly 20,000 of the City-supervised co-ops and rentals in New York City’s storied Mitchell-Lama buildings have left the program since 1989. The lure of raising rents to profit from the City’s real estate boom, or of selling once affordable co-op units for market-rate prices is an ever-present threat to this critical portfolio. The new program, with an initial infusion of $250 million, will target more than 15,000 homes over the next eight years to save Mitchell-Lamas where affordability is at risk.

Along with the Neighborhood Pillars program, the Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program is the second new initiative announced as part of the Mayor’s plan to accelerate the creation and preservation of affordable housing across the city by financing 200,000 affordable homes, and expand that goal to 300,000 affordable homes by 2026 – enough to house the entire population of Boston.

“From Coney Island to the Upper West Side and for decades, hundreds of Mitchell-Lama buildings have offered stable, affordable homes for New York working families. We cannot afford to lose one more of these homes. We’re investing to protect them for the seniors and families who helped build our neighborhoods, and for generations to come,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Since the inception of the Mayor’s Housing New York Plan, the City has preserved, or extended the affordability, of 30 Mitchell-Lama developments with 11,000 residences. Of the approximately 100 remaining developments, with more than 45,000 homes, about two-thirds are affordable cooperatives, representing a significant source of affordable homeownership opportunity for New York City. The others are affordable rental apartments.

With an initial investment of $250 million, the City aims to prevent loss of these affordable homes and apartments by leveraging an array of financing tools to restructure existing debt, provide long-term tax benefits, and fund critical capital repairs.

Most Mitchell-Lama developments, originally funded by the federal government, date from the 1950s and 1960s, and many now need significant rehabilitation work. In addition to low-cost financing, the program will provide Mitchell-Lamas with extended property tax exemptions. These tools help reduce operating costs, which in turn works to keep rents and maintenance fees low for residents. In exchange for the benefits, property owners agree to keep the buildings affordable for at least 20 more years – extending their affordability for another generation or more.

Over the next eight years, the program will seek to preserve long-term affordability for 15,000 Mitchell-Lama residences, both co-ops and rentals.

“With the City’s existing affordable housing stock under increased threat, it’s more important than ever that we preserve our remaining Mitchell-Lama developments,” said City Housing Development Corporation President Eric Enderlin. “I look forward to working with the Mayor and HPD, as we ramp up our efforts to ensure that hardworking individuals and families have continued access to affordable homeownership and rental opportunities.”

“We are working on every front to shore up the affordability of our neighborhoods and saving our Mitchell-Lamas is a key priority.  As part of our push to accelerate and expand the Housing New York plan, this new program will expand our capacity to secure the remaining Mitchell-Lama developments, a vital source of affordable homeownership,” said Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “I want to thank the Mayor, my colleagues at HPD and HDC, and our many partners for their efforts to protect the long-term health and affordability of this critical stock of affordable housing for New Yorkers.”

“Preservation of existing affordable housing is a critical component to any effective affordable housing plan in New York City,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “These Mitchell-Lama buildings have provided safe, decent, and affordable homes to countless New Yorkers over the years. As we experience a crisis in supply, I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for this reinvestment to ensure these homes remain available for the long term.”

"As New York becomes increasingly unaffordable, many New Yorkers feel like they don’t have a fair shot. That’s why investing in new housing, setting high goals, and protecting existing affordable units is critical like never before. The future of our city tomorrow rests on our ability to make the right investments today," said City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

“I commend Mayor de Blasio and HPD Commissioner Torres-Springer for moving forward on the Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program, which is a welcome step toward preserving this critical affordable housing supply across Brooklyn. I have long advocated for these reforms, including in my capacity as chair of the Brooklyn Mitchell-Lama Task Force. We need a robust approach to both preserve the physical condition of Mitchell-Lama housing and improve the system’s governance. For too long, the Mitchell-Lama portfolio has lacked funds for regular maintenance, and many are under attack from systematic neglect and deliberate sabotage by predatory developers. This program will advance the financial security of much of the Mitchell-Lama portfolio and keep many Brooklynites in the borough they call home for years to come,” said Borough President Eric L. Adams.

“New construction grabs headlines, but preserving our existing affordable housing is every bit as essential if we're going to solve our housing crisis,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Saving Mitchell-Lamas and other regulated developments, and keeping as many of them permanently affordable as we can, is a key part of any solution.”

“The new Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program will help keep thousands of long-time Queens families in their homes,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “Mayor de Blasio deserves to be commended for developing this innovative reinvestment program to ensure stability and security in our neighborhoods."

“Since the 1950s, Mitchell-Lama developments have served as an anchor of affordable housing for so many working New York families. I commend the Mayor for working to preserve these pillars of affordable housing throughout the City. We must work across all levels of government to ensure that families can afford and safe and prosperous place to live,” said U. S. Representative Nydia M. Velázquez.

NYS Senator Jesse Hamilton said, “Affordable housing is always a sound investment, guaranteed to pay dividends for years to come. We see it in the form of families kept in their homes, neighborhood residents more able to fully participate, and healthy communities. I welcome this Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program Mayor de Blasio announces today. Mitchell-Lama Housing has served New Yorkers for more than sixty years, with each generation investing to keep New York affordable. It is up to us to continue that tradition, making the necessary investments in our housing, and keeping communities truly affordable for all New York’s families.”
“From the start, Mitchell-Lama was an innovative program that combined true affordability with the opportunity to own your own apartment. I am very pleased that the De Blasio administration has decided to make preserving New York’s Mitchell-Lama housing stock a priority, and stand with the Mayor in opposing further privatization of this vital source of scarce affordable housing,” Senator Marisol Alcántara said.

"With our City facing an affordable housing crisis, an initiative such as the Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program is critical in ensuring that affordable homes across the five boroughs are adequately preserved for future generations of New Yorkers. I have witnessed firsthand the successful implementation of a similar program at Keith and Kelly Plaza, two Mitchell-Lama Developments in my district, where residents saw a complete overhaul of their housing accommodations which greatly improved their quality of life," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "I applaud the efforts of Mayor de Blasio, HPD and HDC for creating a vital program that has not only generated auspicious results in the past, but more importantly, will allow New Yorkers to remain in our City."  

"In the face of unstoppable raising rents, New York cannot afford to lose buildings and apartment units that are still affordable. Helping hard-working individuals and families is a crucial aspect to maintain the very essence of our City. I am glad Mayor de Blasio’s Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program will help save thousands of co-ops and apartments that otherwise will go into the real estate market and kick the working-class out of their communities."  said State Senator Jose Peralta 

State Senator Brad Hoylman said: "For more than half a century Mitchell-Lama has been the gold standard of affordable housing in our city, holding out the dream of a thriving middle-class community. I applaud Mayor de Blasio's new Reinvestment Program, which represents an important and necessary step in guaranteeing Mitchell-Lama remains a bastion for middle-income families in my district and across New York for generations to come."

"The Mitchell Lama program is one of the most successful affordable housing programs in the nation, but as time marched on, we find many of these developments becoming privatized. At a time where homelessness is on the rise and more people find themselves being priced out of their neighborhoods, it is imperative that we preserve housing options like Mitchell Lama and make New York truly affordable for lower- and middle-income residents," said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. 

"When New York State Senator MacNeil Mitchell of Manhattan and Assemblymember Alfred Lama of Brooklyn passed their landmark legislation in 1955, they sought to address an affordable housing crisis they believed posed a grave danger to the well-being of the residents of New York. Their extraordinary action led to the creation of more than one hundred thousand affordable apartments for moderate-income families, which stabilized communities and made home ownership a possibility for working New Yorkers across our city. Many of those apartments were created in Harlem, East Harlem, and the Upper West Side, and are still the home to residents of the district which I represent. New York City is again faced with a serious affordable housing crisis, as affordable housing is the number one constituent issue in my district. Regularly I hear from Mitchell-Lama constituents in my district on the challenges they and their neighbors face to keep their apartments affordable and buildings in good, habitable condition. It is the obligation of the city and the state to step in and take extraordinary actions to preserve our city’s affordable housing stock. I am thrilled that Mayor Bill de Blasio has taken such an action to preserve and maintain our city's remaining Mitchell Lama Buildings. And I am committed to fighting alongside him for a truly affordable and sustainable New York." said State Senator Brian A. Benjamin

“ The only sure way of keeping communities in tact is to give access for tenants to become homeowners. The Mitchell-Lama program in NYC has been a lifeline that has helped participants make a home on their communities.” said Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa “ I applaud the launch of the new Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program which will preserve the program for years to come.”

“Preserving affordable and safe housing options is vital to the many hardworking families that call the Bronx their home. The Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program will ensure our communities housing needs remain a priority – one which I undoubtedly hold. The Mayor’s leadership in this initiative is a beacon of hope for many families battling to stay in their homes.” said Assemblyman Victor M. Pichardo

Assembly Member Inez Dickens said, “The Mitchel Lama program was born to give residents quality affordable housing during a time when property owners were abandoning the city, leaving millions of New Yorkers to live in substandard condition. Now that we have experienced a renaissance, our affordable housing stock has been under constant undermining by aggressive property developers eager to see many of these Mitchel Lamas fall from our protection so they can be snatched up and marketed at prices far beyond what the local community can afford. I am excited about the possibility the Mayor's initiative can offer New Yorkers, especially in Harlem who desperately depend on affordable housing provided by the Mitchel Lama program. I support his effort to ensure quality and affordability go hand in hand with our housing stock.

“Protecting our Mitchell-Lama housing stock from privatization is essential if we are to keep these units within the reach of our middle- and working-class families and individuals,” said Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Housing Committee. “This program is a creative solution to the Mitchell-Lama crisis, and one with the potential to maintain 50,000 units as much-needed affordable housing.” 

Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon said, “Mitchell-Lama housing was created to provide viable housing options for middle income families.  As New York’s housing prices skyrocket, it’s imperative that we keep housing programs like Mitchell-Lama affordable. I applaud the Mayor’s efforts to adjust Mitchell-Lama housing through this new Reinvestment Program, restructuring existing debt to keep properties properly maintained, affordable and sustainable for the long term.”

Assemblywoman Latrice Walker said, “One of the most important priorities to the people of New York City is affordable housing. Unfortunately, we seen the devastating effects of when New Yorkers lose Mitchell Lama. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for reinvesting in Mitchell Lama, this is a vital step to secure affordable housing in our city and I look forward to working with him in this initiative.”

Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan said, “The Mitchell-Lama program has provided affordable rental and cooperative housing to moderate- and middle-income New Yorkers for over six decades, but its continued existence is threatened by the exodus of many buildings from the program.  Through the Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program, the de Blasio administration will help keep tens of thousands of New Yorkers in affordable housing by extending protections for decades.”

Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings: “"These are the kinds of programs we need to preserve. Confronting the affordable housing and homelessness crisis that the city faces requires a comprehensive approach, and preservation of housing options such as Mitchell-Lama residences is a major component- we can't simply build our way out of this problem. As the administration makes this significant commitment with the Mitch-Lama Reinvestment Program, I look forward to continuing to pursue a range of strategies and methods to address the broader, pressing issue."

“Mitchell-Lama buildings are a huge asset to every neighborhood in New York City. Affordable apartments fill a vast need in my district, both in Sheepshead Bay and Coney Island. This reinvestment of $250 million will allow thousands of residents to stay in the Mitchell-Lama program and maintain their low cost homes,” said Council Member Chaim M. Deutsch.

“Protecting the thousands of rental apartments and co-ops in our remaining Mitchell-Lama developments is absolutely essential if New York City is to remain a viable home for working and middle class residents. We’ve lost too many affordable units already. I commend the de Blasio administration for this forward thinking investment,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

“Preserving Mitchell-Lama housing is critical to keeping New York City affordable for all" said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Through the Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program, Mayor De Blasio is reaffirming the City’s commitment to investing in vital housing stock for working and middle class New Yorkers.”

“With rents and housing costs on the rise, Mitchell-Lama developments represent an indispensable resource for low- and middle-income New Yorkers,” said Council Member James Vacca. “This source of affordable housing must be protected and maintained, and I thank Mayor de Blasio for spearheading this important initiative.”

“We’re in the middle of an affordable housing crisis,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “Too many families and individuals are finding it too expensive to make ends meet while living in the neighborhood they love or grew up in. I applaud the Mayor for this step in preserving affordable housing.”

“I love my building and my neighborhood, and I deeply appreciate the chance to make sure my family and neighbors can continue to live in Fort Green/Clinton Hills. Working with the City, we’ve made our Mitchell-Lama coop affordable for decades more,” said Darrel Byer, owner and treasurer of a Brooklyn Mitchell-Lama coop building that has received City support to make repairs and extend affordability

“On behalf of the Brooklyn Mitchell-Lama Task Force, we are excited and thank Mayor de Blasio for choosing Brooklyn to make this important announcement,” said co-chair of the Brooklyn Mitchell-Lama Task Force Dealice Fuller. “We are also grateful for the ongoing support of all our elected officials across the five boroughs and especially Borough President Adams, who has been a staunch supporter and protector of our Mitchell-Lama program. We look forward to continue our work and advocacy with City and State agencies on preserving this vital housing stock.”

“Cooperators United for Mitchell-Lama (Cu4ML) applauds Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to preserving affordable homes for working New Yorkers,” said Cooperators United for Mitchell Lama (Cu4ML) President Adele Niederman. “Cu4ML is enthusiastic about our Mayor's increased financial support to preserve Mitchell-Lama cooperatives as truly affordable housing for all New Yorkers.”

“This new assistance to the Mitchell Lama program is a long awaited benefit to all New Yorkers. Middle income families have been struggling for decades especially with the opt-out of so many developments from the program. We applaud the Mayor's action as it demonstrates commitment to affordable housing in New York,” said Aleta LaFargue, President of the Manhattan Plaza Tenants Association

“The Mitchell-Lama program has long been a valuable resource in providing affordable rental and cooperative housing to moderate- and middle-income families, keeping communities stable in the process,” said Sam Marks, Executive Director of LISC NYC. “We believe that maintaining affordable homeownership is a powerful strategy to address the City’s housing crisis. With powerful tax and loan incentives, the Mitchell Lama Reinvestment Program will help preserve the long-term affordability of Mitchell-Lama developments at risk of converting to market rate housing.”

“Brooklyn is home to a significant concentration of Mitchell-Lama housing, so this initiative certainly hits home. It demonstrates Mayor de Blasio’s dedication, along with HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer, to preserve and enhance Mitchell-Lama developments,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Andrew Hoan. “This is a win for sustaining affordability in Brooklyn and helping long-time residents stay in the borough of their choice.”

“New York needs more affordable housing, not less. It is absolutely essential to preserve the affordability of the city’s remaining 50,000 Mitchell-Lama apartments, which have served low- and moderate-income residents in rapidly changing neighborhoods for decades,” said Judi Kende, Vice President and New York Market Leader of Enterprise Community Partners. “We commend HPD for this innovative reinvestment program and challenge the city and our partners to continue to seek new ways to both build new affordable housing and preserve existing homes for all New Yorkers.” 

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