By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The mayor’s office has announced a plan to protect affordability at remaining Mitchell-Lama developments throughout the city through additional financing of $250 million.
A representative from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development confirmed that the funding will be available for all Mitchell-Lama developments, meaning that the East Midtown Plaza complex west of First Avenue and East 24th Street will be getting some of the funds. The specific needs of individual developments will determine how the resources are used, but information on the exact amounts is not yet clear.
“The Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program will focus on preserving the long-term affordability of all residences currently enrolled in the program,” HPD representative Matthew Creegan said. “It will utilize an array of financing tools, determined by the individual needs of each project, as an incentive for these properties to remain in the program as stable, sustainable and affordable homes for years to come.”
The mayor’s office noted that the new program will target 15,000 homes over the next eight years. Known as the Mitchell-Lama Reinvestment Program, the initiative is part of the mayor’s plan to create and preserve affordable housing throughout the city by financing 200,000 affordable home and expanding to 300,000 affordable homes by 2026.
Most Mitchell-Lama developments, originally funded by the federal government, were built in the 1950s and 1960s, and many need significant renovations. The program will provide Mitchell-Lamas with extended property tax exemptions, in addition to low-cost financing. These tools will help reduce operating costs, which works to keep rents and maintenance fees low for residents. Property owners agree to keep the buildings affordable for at least 20 more years in exchange for the benefits.
Meanwhile, some cooperators at East Midtown Plaza have pushed for privatization over the years and there will be a vote on whether to do so at the complex. Previous attempts to privatize by vote did not succeed.
State Senator Brad Hoylman, who has come out against privatization of East Midtown Plaza, praised the new city program, noting that the financing could help the development.
“East Midtown Plaza is an example of a Mitchell-Lama that could benefit from additional incentive that the mayor has outlined to encourage people to stay in the program,” Hoylman said. “There is a strong vocal group of people who want East Midtown Plaza to leave (the program) and we have to do everything we can to convince them otherwise and encourage the stabilization of this great middle-class housing in our district.”