Housing Starts:Timing of Rezonings Unclear I Landlords’ Article 78 Upheld I Homeless Shelters Report

March 13th 2015

Image Credit: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

  1. Timing of City’s Rezoning Still Up in the Air “The City Planning Commission’s Carl Weisbrod told City Council members today that he expects his department to certify a rezoning application for Brooklyn’s East New York in the spring, but he remains uncertain about timing for the 14 other neighborhoods that may undergo rezoning. At a City Hall budget meeting, Weisbrod said, ‘I do anticipate we will be entering the formal [land use] process this spring’ for East New York. But about the other 14 neighborhoods, only half of which have been identified so far, he was less clear. ‘And on others, I think we are not 100 percent certain yet what the specific target dates are,’ he said. [The Real Deal – 03/11/15]
  2. Landlords’ Article 78 Against NYCHA Upheld Landlords subject to one of New York City’s largest rent subsidy programs won a favorable ruling Tuesday from the Appellate Division, First Department. A unanimous court ruled in In re Flosar Realty v. New York City Housing Authority, 102799/12, that landlords complaining of debilitating delays in their applications for rent increases could maintain an Article 78 proceeding. Defendant New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) administers federal subsidies paid to about 30,000 city landlords who have tenants covered by the ‘Section 8’ program. [New York Law Journal – 03/11/15]
  3. City Turns ‘Blind Eye’ to Lethal Dangers in Homeless Shelters, Report Says Crumbling homeless shelters endanger the lives of thousands of families in their care, and the city’s Department of Homeless Services is to blame, according to a report released by the city’s Department of Investigation on Thursday. The shelters are filled with disgusting sights like dead rats and pools of urine in common areas, along with numerous safety issues, the report found. ‘At its worst, DHS is turning a blind eye to violations that threaten the lives of shelter residents,’ the DOI said in the report. [DNAinfo – 03/12/15]
  4. Govs. Cuomo and Christie Rebuked on Housing Controversies The governors of New York and New Jersey have come under criticism for their respective handling of controversial housing-related issues. New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo is being called out for diverting $492 million in settlement funds from mortgage-related settlements into projects that have nothing to do with housing. The Wall Street Journal reports that Cuomo is planning to use money that the state received in agreements with Bank of America, Citigroup and Ocwen Financial Corporation to finance endeavors including the construction of new train stations for the Metro-North line, the expansion of high-speed broadband availability and business development projects designed to revitalize upstate New York communities. [National Mortgage Professional – 03/11/15]
  5. Modular Construction May Get A Lift From the City Modular housing developers may be getting a boost from the de Blasio administration. A proposal unveiled last month that would allow for taller and more architecturally diverse buildings in some New York City neighborhoods would also provide a welcome change for developers who want to build modular—a construction method in which crews produce individual units in a factory and then deliver them to be assembled at construction sites. For decades, there has been a problem: Because units are stacked on top of each other, the floors in modular buildings are much thicker than those conventionally constructed. So despite having no additional square footage, modular projects are taller than normal, which has made it difficult to meet height requirements in certain neighborhoods in the city. [Crain’s New York – 03/09/15]
  6. New York City Considers a ‘Civil Gideon’ for Housing Court New York City may soon become the first city in the United States to provide free legal counsel to low-income tenants facing eviction. Can the city afford it? New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, the city’s Chief Financial Officer, thinks it may be possible. Last week, he stood in support of Intro 214, the ‘Right to Counsel’ bill. Citing statistics that nearly 30,000 New York City families were evicted from their homes in 2013, he argued that ‘more must be done to protect tenants.’ [RegBlog – 03/11/15]
  7. Housing Groups Heckle Mayor on Steps of City Hall Over Affordable Housing Dozens of neighborhood groups rallied on the steps of City Hall Wednesday, heckling Mayor Bill de Blasio as he entered the building, while calling for more of a say in the city’s plan to rezone neighborhoods across the city. Chanting ‘slow it down’ as de Blasio entered City Hall, the groups said they weren’t being given enough details about the city’s proposed zoning changes and wanted more of an opportunity to shape the plans to fit their specific neighborhood. They asked for the mayor to stop and speak to them but de Blasio smiled and waved as he continued into City Hall. [DNAinfo – 03/11/15]
  8. NJ Supreme Court: Judges Will Enforce Affordable Housing Rules In a unanimous decision, New Jersey’s Supreme Court has ruled that judges should take over enforcement of affordable housing rules. The high court found the State Council on Affordable Housing failed to comply with the court’s directive to enact new guidelines for towns on setting aside housing for low-and-moderate-income residents. Towns now will be able to project how many affordable homes are needed, said Kevin Walsh of the Fair Share Housing Center. [News Works – 03/10/15]
  9. Council Calls on Albany to Extend Rent Regulations The City Council passed legislation on Wednesday urging Albany to extend the city’s rent stabilization requirements. The current rent stabilization laws are set to expire in April and can only be extended or renewed at the state level. Local lawmakers introduce legislation every year as a symbolic show of support for the extension. [Capital New York – 03/11/15]
  10. NYC’s Record Homeless Population Seeks Shelter at LaGuardia From a distance, Joseph Sowards looks like any traveler stuck for the night at LaGuardia Airport’s central terminal after his flight was canceled. Get closer, and it becomes clear from his layered clothing and dirty hands that he’s one of New York City’s record number of homeless. ‘They don’t bother me here,’ said Sowards, 44, an unlicensed plumber from Maspeth, Queens, who was lying on the floor. He’s been sleeping in parks and abandoned buildings for the past 10 years. While the homeless population is bigger at the Port Authority bus terminal and Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, a growing number are finding shelter at New York’s airports, according to Volunteers of America. [Bloomberg Business – 03/10/15]
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