J-51 matters.

 

Tell Sheldon Silver, "Just say NO to J-51 renewal - unless tenant protections are seriously strengthened." 


J-51 is a tax benefit program for owners making major repairs to their buildings.  Owners get these tax breaks for a period of years - during which tenants become rent regulated, and those who are already regulated must remain so.  The J-51 program was intended to help the residents and owners of poorer buildings make these crucial repairs. That's the good news. 


But landlords want the bill renewed without strengthening the rent laws, and with a provision that would let them pay back the tax benefits in exchange for being able to de-regulate apartments (ousting the tenants who happen to live in them).  And the City is losing millions of dollars in tax revenue. 


The Community Service Society has written a clear report, Upgrading Private Property at Public Expense.  The NYS Legislature should take notice: When the "three men in a room" (Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Speaker Dean Skelos, and Governor Andrew Cuomo) meet to determine which bills will actually be voted out of which committee and become law,  they should know that New Yorkers care.  Tenants should not lose their homes as the city loses its stock of affordable housing.  Below is the first paragraph:

Since 1955, New York State and New York City law 
have provided for tax benefits to certain property   
owners who rehabilitate buildings for residential use. 
This tax break, known as “J-51” for its former location in 
the New York City Administrative Code, currently benefits 
more than a third of the dwelling units in the city in the type 
of building to which it is primarily targeted, those with ten 
or more units. It is one of the city’s most expensive housing     
programs, amounting to $256.6 million in tax expenditures   
for 2011.
While landlords are fighting to renew J-51 and make it more owner-friendly, tenants need more, not less protection from this year's state legislature. That protection includes reform of the Rent Guidelines Board, a cap on Major Capital Improvement increases, and protection from huge rent increases for preferential rent tenants and those in rent controlled apartments (those built before 1947).   
So tell Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to "Just Say No" to J-51 renewal unless there are strong tenant protections not only for J-51 itself but for all tenants.