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De Blasio heads to Albany to push rent regulations, 421-a

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May 28, 2015 by westsideneighborhoodalliance

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BY SALLY GOLDENBERG | When Mayor Bill de Blasio travels to Albany on Wednesday, he will face opposing political interests as he tries to convince the state Legislature to go along with his package of proposals that are intended to spur affordable housing in New York City.

In pushing his 421-a plan, a compromise he crafted to extend the controversial tax break for developers while expanding its affordable housing requirement, de Blasio will have a harder time persuading Democrats to embrace the deal, which has the backing of the Real Estate Board of New York.

His proposal to retool the city’s rent regulations, on the other hand, will require a heavier lift among Albany Republicans, who are less likely to back a proposal vehemently opposed by landlords and who have no little relationship with a liberal New York City mayor who tried to help Democrats take over the State Senate last year.

De Blasio said Tuesday he looks forward to meeting with “each and every one of the leaders in Albany,” and specifically named newly elected Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan of Long Island. Flanagan replaced for Dean Skelos, who surrendered his leadership post this month amid a federal corruption scandal.

“Obviously, we’ll be talking about why we need to extend mayoral control, why we need to strengthen rent regulations, why we think the reforms we’ve proposed for 421-a will allow us to create a lot more affordable housing and will be fairer in terms of the use of the taxpayers’ money,” de Blasio told reporters after an education-related press conference on Staten Island. “So, it’s just a go-and-talk-through the vision, and hear their concerns, and continue to work together—looking towards the resolution of these issues over the next three weeks or so.”

Debate over 421-a has heated up in recent weeks, with REBNY and construction unions running competing ads as the legislative session nears an end in June.

REBNY and others in a coalition are launching a multimillion-dollar ad campaign this week calling on lawmakers to support the tax break, which was created 40 years ago to spur housing production.

De Blasio’s compromise plan requires all developers receiving 421-a to build affordable units and increases the minimum amount of mandated affordability, in exchange for stretching out the life of the tax break.

An organization of coalitions that oppose 421-a released a statement Tuesday attacking those ads.

“The construction of affordable housing cannot be done at the expense of poverty wages. We need to link good jobs standards to housing subsidies. Public tax breaks have mostly benefited the wealthy resulting in the displacement of thousands of low and moderate income New Yorkers and that has to stop,” Maritza Silva Farrell, spokesperson for the group Real Affordability for All, said in the release.

Farrell wants 421-a abolished entirely.

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