Housing Starts: Rent-Stabilized Tenants want Freeze | Public Housing for the Homeless | Luxury Boom

May 1st 2015

Community members at a rent increase hearing this week (Photo Credit: Kirsten Luce, New York Times)

  1. Public Housing Advocates Eye Untapped Subsidy De Blasio has consistently deferred all answers to questions about NYCHA funding to this spring, when his big “Next Generation” plan is announced. He’s also spent a good amount of time in recent months arguing for more federal funding for cities. But he’s virtually ignored one of the only pots of federal money for public housing that appears to be growing. It’s called the Rental Assistance Demonstration program (or RAD), and it’s administered by the federal department of housing and urban development, where de Blasio once occupied a high-level position under then-HUD secretary Andrew Cuomo. [Capital New York – 04/30/15]
  2. Rent-Stabilized Tenants in New York City Renew Call for a Freeze Possible rent increases this year for New York City’s rent-stabilized apartments will run up to 3.5 percent on two-year leases, with a possibility of a rent freeze also on the horizon for one-year leases, according to a vote by members of the Rent Guidelines Board. Facing a boisterous, sign-waving audience in a packed Midtown auditorium, the nine-member panel voted to consider a 0 percent to 2 percent increase for one-year rent-stabilized leases when it reconvenes this summer for a final vote. Two-year leases could rise 0.5 percent to 3.5 percent, according to the board, which represents both tenants and landlords, though the rent numbers could go up or down after public hearings. [New York Times – 04/30/15]
  3. Housing Advocates Want Rent-Stabilized Fees Abolished A group of advocates and state Assembly members Thursday called for the end of fees landlords charge rent-stabilized tenants to legally bump up the amount of money they collect every month. These levies include a $5 monthly charge per appliance for having an air conditioner, for example, or a roughly $16 monthly fee for washing machines. In many cases, the fees add up to hundreds of dollars. The group, which includes the Urban Justice Center and a coalition called Fees Are Fraud, hosted a rally on the steps of City Hall Thursday to contend that landlords use these fees to put financial pressure on tenants in an effort to eventually push them out of their rent-regulated apartments. [Crain’s New York Business – 04/30/15]
  4. A Federal Law Change Will Lift Foreign Investment in New York City Real Estate A tax rule that real estate developers and owners believe discourages foreign investment in the U.S. appears on track to finally being loosened. The change would open the door to overseas money at a time when such buyers are increasingly investing in property in the city. Two proposed bills that would change the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act have passed through the U.S. Senate finance committee and will move for a vote by the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives by the end of the year. The amendments would allow foreign pension funds to invest in U.S. real estate without having to pay capital-gains taxes on the proceeds of those investments. [Crain’s New York Business – 04/29/15]
  5. Advocates Demand More Public Housing Apartments Be Given To Homeless Families Homeless advocacy group Homes For Every New Yorker (HFENY) released a report yesterday urging Mayor de Blasio to set aside 2,500 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) apartments for homeless families. The city currently sets aside a minimum of 750 NYCHA apartments to the homeless each fiscal year—far fewer than have been designated under previous mayoral administrations. Another HFENY study, released in early April, found that homelessness in New York City has reached a record high: 60,000 New Yorkers slept in shelters in 2014, and one out of every 42 children spent at least one night in a shelter. In March, the Coalition for the Homeless reported a promising 300-family dip in city-wide homelessness since December, but still urged city and state legislators to address the issue. [Gothamist – 04/29/15]
  6. Damn the Developers? During the recession, buying a house was an unlikely prospect for many Americans who were facing serious financial hardships as their largest assets lost value and job loss spread. But for investors—both large and small—the decimated market provided opportunity. After the bust, there was little activity in the housing sector as most Americans tried desperately to just hold on to their homes. Rampant foreclosures and short sales meant that investors could scoop up properties at super-low prices, spruce them up, and then rent them out at market rates. It was a different sort of market activity, but activity nonetheless, and some credit investors with reviving home buying. “In the deepest days of the housing crisis, investors were playing an important role in helping to stabilize the housing stock by purchasing it and putting it back into occupancy,” says Chris Herbert, the managing director of the Joint Center on Housing Studies at Harvard. [CityLab – 04/30/15]
  7. New York Construction Booms With Focus on Luxury Housing New York City construction spending jumped 26 percent last year to $36 billion, led by a record amount of residential building in a market skewed toward luxury housing, according to the New York Building Congress. Spending on residential construction surged 73 percent to $11.9 billion in 2014, exceeding an October forecast and marking the first time it has ever topped $7 billion, the trade group said Thursday in a report. The number of new housing units failed to keep pace, increasing 11 percent to 20,329. That compares with more than 30,000 homes created annually between 2005 and 2008. The numbers suggest a tilt toward building high-end homes at a time when more housing is needed that’s within reach of middle-class residents, said Richard Anderson, the building congress’s president. [Bloomberg News – 04/30/15]
  8. Number of $100 Million Homes Surges in U.S. Four years ago, a Russian billionaire became the first person known to pay the unheard-of price of $100 million for a single-family home in the U.S. While breaking the nine-digit mark is still extremely rare, it is becoming slightly less so. As of March 31, 10 properties are listed in the U.S. at that price or higher—in diverse locales ranging from the Florida Keys to Dallas, according to a report released Thursday by Christie’s International Real Estate. If they all sell at or above the $100 million mark, it will more than triple the number of such sales in 2014, when three homes sold at above that price. [Nasdaq – 04/30/15]
  9. Mayor De Blasio Approves Property Tax Relief for Sandy Victims Mayor Bill de Blasio approved a new bill Tuesday that will provide property tax relief for Hurricane Sandy victims. The bill, sponsored by Councilman Vincent Ignizio, will spare residents a property tax hike after they finish rebuilding their home destroyed in the storm. “When I identified a quirk in the property tax law which would have imposed a ‘Sandy tax’ on the very people we were trying to help recover, I pledged to work with the mayor’s office and colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in all legislative houses to fix it,” Ignizio said in a statement. […] Under the current tax law, rebuilding a home would increase a property’s assessed value since repairs of homes are categorized as improvements. [DNAinfo – 04/30/15]
  10. Megacities: Making Giant Urban Areas Less Energy-Hungry The New York metropolitan area gobbles up more energy than any other major city in the world, according to a new study that aims to calculate the resources consumed in the world’s largest cities. The sprawling region that spreads into surrounding states including Connecticut and New Jersey is part of a growing number of so-called “megacities” sprouting up around the world and consuming more resources as they get larger and richer.  Now an international team of 28 researchers has partnered with the Enel Foundation, a nonprofit arm of Italian energy company Enel Group, to figure out how much electricity, fuel and water these huge cities consume, with an eye toward figuring out how some of them can cut back. [CNBC – 04/30/15]
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