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August 9, 2007

Meet Shaun Donovan, Affordable Housing’s Man of the Hour

The city’s commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development talks about the Bloomberg administration’s plans for 165,000 new affordable homes, its support of raising the threshold for rent-stabilized apartments—and its pull in Albany on housing issues

The NY Observer

Criticism of the "Atlantic Yards carveout," in Matthew Schuerman's Q&A interview with NYC Housing Preservation and Development head Shaun Donovan, which presumably was conducted before Tuesday's announcement of a deal:

ShaunDonovan-NYO.jpg

I understand you were unhappy with the state’s 421a tax abatement bill, which changed the popular development incentive. What are your concerns?

We are in continuing discussions over that. The concern, one of the concerns that we have about the bill that was passed, is that it removes all of our flexibility to do moderate-income projects. It would require that every single project that gets 421a benefits, within the exclusion zones, to have a low-income component; and while our focus has been on low-income, we also have a significantly expanded middle-class housing initiative. Queens West is one example.

We’re also concerned about the exclusion zones. The South Bronx, for example, is clearly not an area where we think it’s appropriate to expand the exclusion zone. And then, third, we’re concerned about the level of benefits that the bill would provide to a hand-picked group of developers—the Atlantic Yards provision, which, by our count, gives $300 million in tax benefits to Atlantic Yards.

Now, if we could solve the broader issue around middle-income housing, we could get to a solution that would reduce their benefits but also allow the project to proceed.

article

Norman Oder comments on his Atlantic Yards Report blog:

That’s a bit of a non sequitur. Yes, some 900 of the 2250 subsidized Atlantic Yards units would be middle-income housing, for families of four earning from $70,900 (100% of Area Median Income, or AMI) to $113,440 (160% of AMI).

But Donovan sounds like he’s saying Atlantic Yards would’ve been stalled without the tax break. If that’s the argument, then: show us the numbers. He still hasn’t justified why Atlantic Yards would get special treatment.

Posted by lumi at August 9, 2007 9:35 AM