The Mitchell-Lama program has subsidized the construction of 269 developments, with over 105,000 apartments for middle-income households. In exchange for low-interest mortgage loans and real property tax exemptions, the Mitchell-Lama program limited profits and placed income limits on tenants or cooperative owners. The program also required ongoing supervision by the agency originally sponsoring the development of the project, either the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) or New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR). Beginning in 1977 (after New York City’s fiscal crisis in the 1970s), the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) refinanced many of the City’s Mitchell-Lama portfolio. By 1980, HDC had refinanced projects containing 29,000 units and thereby reduced New York City’s debt burden.
Developments were eligible to withdraw or buy out from the program after 20 years, upon prepayment of the mortgage, or after 35 years in the case of developments aided by loans prior to May 1, 1959. Owners may choose to buy out of the Mitchell-Lama program by prepaying the existing mortgage in order to have the ability to re-sell their projects at market rates. When owners buy out, their buildings are no longer subject to HCR or HPD Mitchell-Lama regulation, and apartments need not be kept affordable for moderate-income households (rent regulation for rental projects built before 1974 remains in effect, as do the regulatory requirements of tax relief or other programs). State agencies, including the Housing Finance Agency (HFA), Empire State Development Corporation (ESD), and HCR, have collaborated to identify State Mitchell-Lama housing companies to participate in mortgage refinancings, which generate funds for capital improvements and property upgrades.