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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Luxe Builders" Chase Tax Breaks (City loses out)

The impossible proves porously possible. In January, State Senator Martin J. Golden, Republican of Brooklyn, and Assemblyman Keith Wright, Democrat of Manhattan, attached a gilded little 421-a “carve-out” to the underside of a much-needed housing bill for New York City. Everyone voted for it. Just like that, Mr. Barnett’s development earned a property tax exemption worth at least $50 million, maybe much more, over the next 10 years. NY Times

Saturday, June 22, 2013

R3 Helps Stop Bad Bill in Albany's Waning Hours

In the last minutes of the 2012-2013 legislative session, the real estate lobby tried to pass a  bill to expand the J-51 tax subsidy program by allowing benefits for development projects that did not qualify under the “One Big Ugly” combined bill enacted in January of this year (Chapter 4, Laws of 2013).

Jaron Benjamin, facilitator of R3, went to Albany to make sure that the landlords did not sneak any bad bill through. With the support of the Met Council report on 421-a tax giveaways, reported in the NY Daily News, he stopped it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

RGB whacks NYC tenants: Highest hike since 2008

The NYC Rent Guidelines Board just hurt tenants with huge increases. 

For rent stabilized tenants: 
  • For a one-year renewal lease commencing on or after October 1, 2013 and on or before September 30, 20144.0%
  • For a two-year renewal lease commencing on or after October 1, 2013 and on or before September 30, 2014: 7.75

See the Wall St. Journal article and more information below. 

See the RGB website for increases for other types of rentals.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

REPORT: 421-a A PRODUCT OF DEVELOPER CASH


According to a report released today by the Met Council on Housing, the 421-a tax giveaway was the product of Albany’s dysfunctional culture, which allows virtually unlimited cash from wealthy real estate developers.

Information from the report was used in a New York Daily News article printed today. You can view the full report HERE.

Key Findings:

·        Combined, developers of four of the five luxury buildings gave at least $440,962 to PACs, state offices, and political par­ties in 2012 alone. (After an exhaustive search, we were not able to obtain data for the developer of the fifth building.)

·        Governor Cuomo, who had to sign the 421-a legislation, re­ceived $150,000 from the four developers in 2012. He was the biggest recipient of cash from these developers last year.

·        Contributions from Extell Development Company and its princi­pals, owners of One57, accounted for $229,262 of the 2012 total. Extell has given a whopping $771,436 to state committees and campaigns since 2005, spent $74,500 lobbying New York City on One57 alone and spent tens of thousands of dollars more lobbying the city and state to get new permits for its crane, among other issues.

·        Contributions to party committees, which benefit the most powerful legislators who control the movement of legislation, were also sizable: Republican Party committees received $53,000 and Democratic Party committees received $34,000 from the four developers in 2012.


·        Overall, these four companies gave more than $1.5 million ($1,531,531) to state elected officials, political parties and real-estate PACs between 2008 and 2012.


Here's the Daily News article:

DAILY NEWS: LUXURY DEVELOPERS GIVE TO POLS, GET MASSIVE TAX BREAKS

NY lawmakers mandate massive tax breaks for millionaires’ Manhattan apartments

Language quietly inserted into a bill that sailed through the state Legislature singled out five NYC developments to make them eligible for tax breaks that could cost the city tens of millions of dollars in property taxes, the Daily News has learned. Developers of four of the projects, their relatives and affiliated companies gave $1.5 million to various state campaign committees from 2008 to 2012.

BY DANIEL BEEKMAN NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

PUBLISHED: MONDAY, JUNE 17, 2013, 9:25 PM
UPDATED: TUESDAY, JUNE 18, 2013, 2:30 AM

 Swimming pool at One57

MARCHMADE

Besides the sparkling waters of this pool, millionaire tenants at One57 — near Central Park in New York — will get to swim in the massive tax savings they'll receive for buying the apartments, thanks to new state legislation.

The millionaires buying apartments in a soaring tower rising on 57th St. will get more than sweeping views of Central Park: They’ll also be eligible for massive city tax breaks.
So will the buyers of apartments in three other luxury Manhattan developments, and the builders of a fifth Manhattan high-rise, a rental.
Language quietly inserted into a bill that sailed through the state Legislature singled out the five developments to make them eligible for tax breaks — which could cost the city tens of millions of dollars in property taxes, the Daily News has learned.

The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), defended the tax breaks, saying the projects would create jobs and boost the economy.
“These projects were ready to go,” he said.
But Golden could not say who selected the five projects for special treatment. “I’m not sure where they came from,” he said.
And the Assembly sponsor, Keith Wright (D-Manhattan), said he knew little about the tax breaks.
“These five properties — it was important that they benefit from the piece of legislation probably, and I don’t know why, because some of the folks in the Senate wanted them to be included.”
Funny how the awning of One57, a 75-story apartment tower in New York City being built by Extell Development Co., looks like a hand seeking a handout: thanks to a new bill passed by state lawmakers, Extell and similar developers will receive huge tax breaks. Critics argue the breaks are a stark example of why lawmakers should pass campaign finance reform.

MARCHMADE

Funny how the awning of One57, a 75-story apartment tower in New York City being built by Extell Development Co., looks like a hand seeking a handout: thanks to a new bill passed by state lawmakers, Extell and similar developers will receive huge tax breaks. Critics argue the breaks are a stark example of why lawmakers should pass campaign finance reform.

The developers of four of the projects, their relatives and affiliated companies gave $1.5 million to various state campaign committees during 2008-12 — including $440,962 last year, records show.
The contributions included $53,000 to the state Senate Republican campaign treasury, $34,000 to the war chest of Assembly Democrats and $150,000 to the campaign of Gov. Cuomo, who signed the bill Jan. 30.
Critics argue the breaks are a stark example of why lawmakers should pass campaign finance reform this week.
“That real estate developers were able to win such a huge giveaway is a reflection of . . . just how broken the current campaign finance system is,” said Jaron Benjamin, president of the Metropolitan Council on Housing.

“The reason Albany lawmakers agreed to spend millions subsidizing luxury housing for the wealthy is clear: Developers who contributed to their campaigns . . . expected to be rewarded.”
Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, said the tax breaks were deserved.
“Whenever anybody doesn’t like something, they make an argument that some quid pro quo was made. I totally reject the suggestion,” he said.
This unit at One57, a luxury apartment tower in New York City, is bright and sunny. Less clear, however, is how language was included in a bill that singled out this development and four others for massive tax breaks. 'I’m not sure where they came from,' said Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), who nonetheless defended the breaks.

MARCHMADE

This unit at One57, a luxury apartment tower in New York City, is bright and sunny. Less clear, however, is how language was included in a bill that singled out this development and four others for massive tax breaks. 'I’m not sure where they came from,' said Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), who nonetheless defended the breaks.

The language benefiting the five developments was slipped into a catch-all housing bill pushed by the Bloomberg administration that included extending tax breaks to hundreds of thousands of low- and middle-income homeowners.
The language made the five projects eligible for a controversial abatement program called 421-a, which grants tax relief for 10 or 20 years to buildings that set aside 20% of all units for affordable housing, or in some cases sponsor such housing off-site.
Bloomberg administration officials said they did not request the special provision.
State Sen. Liz Krueger voted for the bill but slammed the “carve-out” breaks for the five buildings.
“This is a perfect example of what goes wrong with the wheeling and dealing in the backrooms ofAlbany,” Krueger (D-Manhattan) said.
The provision made the projects eligible for breaks by waiving a zoning rule blocking them from the abatement program.
Spinola said the City Council in the past routinely waived the rule for all developments — but has not done so recently. Several of the five developers broke ground years ago on the assumption the Council would continue granting such abatements, he said.
But Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) called the provision an “end run” around the Council. “Why did they go to Albany, and why did Albany not ask for (a vote) from the City Council? I think the answer is that the powers that be wanted to bury it in an omnibus bill.”
The developers must file with the city to claim their abatements.
Extell Development Co., which is building the 75-story tower on W. 57th St., One57, did not return a request for comment.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

CAMPAIGN LAUNCH



On Saturday, June 15, the Real Rent Reform Campaign has launched a massive outreach initiative across the 
 city, focusing on areas with high concentrations of rent-regulated tenants In exactly two years, the rent laws-responsible for protecting tenants and regulating rents-will expire.

Simply renewing the rent laws will not be enough. We must strengthen and expand them, or rent regulation will suffer a slow death and only the super rich will be able to live in New York City.

That's why we must organize, fundraise and mobilize now.


Contact organizing@realrentreform.org for posters, fliers and other materials that we'll need to rally the troops to defeat the Landlords.




















FOR MORE DETAILS, CONTACT USORGANIZING@REALRENTREFORM.ORG

Thursday, June 13, 2013

R3 REPORT SHOWS FUZZY RGB MATH


On the day of the final Rent Guidelines Board hearing at 49-51 Chambers Street, Real Rent Reform released a study that shows how faulty calculations of costs have caused rents and landlords' incomes to soar, and how rent stabilized tenants are facing the largest rent burdens in the history of the program.


Get the report here.

Among the findings:

  • Rent-stabilized tenants now pay nearly 35% of their income in rent – the highest rent burden ever recorded in our city’s history
  • From 2009 to the present, there have been $4.8 billion in rent increases while costs have increased by $2.9 billion, meaning landlords overall have received an extra $1.9 billion.
  • A major contributor to the dramatic increase in landlord income over the past several years has been the aggressive pattern of rent increases authorized by the Rent Guidelines Board
For more information, contact:



Michael McKee
(917) 669-2977
mmckee@tenantspac.org

Jaron Benjamin
(718) 864-3932
jaron@realrentreform.org



Bus to Albany June 18 for Fair Elections

GET ON THE BUS!


ALBANY | TUESDAY JUNE 18

New York’s campaign finance system is broken. A loophole that allows landlords to give almost unlimited amounts of cash must be closed if Tenants are going to win reform in Albany-the wealthy developers, landlords and realtors drown out the voices of everyday New Yorkers. It’s time to change the way politics works in Albany.  
Governor Cuomo has proposed a bill that would close the loophole - but the bill won't pass unless the Governor and the "Independent Democratic Caucus" get it through the legislature.   

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Gov. Cuomo: Close the LLC "landlord loophole"!

Will landlords survive campaign finance reform?
Real estate loophole must be closed

We are mere days away from the close of the 2013 legislative session. The session must not end without enactment of meaningful campaign finance reform.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are pushing a package of reforms, the most important of which would establish a program of matching public funds for candidates who agree to limit their spending, similar to the New York City program. The Assembly has passed a bill containing this and other reforms.

Friday, June 7, 2013

TENANT MEDIA ROUNDUP


-MONEY THROWN AT NYS SENATE-
-PACKED HOUSE AT THE PEOPLES' RGB-

Tenants were pretty creative this week, and garnered attention in the process. Whether raining money down on Senate Republicans in the Capitol for blocking legislation that would help stop landlords from flooding Albany with cash or hosting nearly 200 concerned tenants in the Bronx, the press took note:


Media from the Peoples' RGB:


Media from NYS Senate Money Drop:

Saturday, June 1, 2013

THE PEOPLES' RGB - Tonight - Wed. June 5

CASA HOSTS THE PEOPLES' RGB
TONIGHT - WEDNESDAY, JUNE 5 - 5:30pm

New Settlement Community Center | 1501 Jerome Ave @ 172 St, the Bronx
Getting there: 4 or D train to 170th St

The Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) - a nine member body appointed by Mayor Bloomberg responsible for regulating rents for nearly 2.5 million tenants - has refused to host public hearings outside of Manhattan.

Given Bloomberg's less-than-stellar record on housing, this still comes as a shock - so tenants from all over the city are encouraged to join CASA (Community Action for Safe Apartments) to be heard.  


It's important to keep up the energy and go to the "official" Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) events":

Public Hearing

Thursday, June 13, 2013 | 10am
Emigrant Savings Bank Building
49-51 Chambers St. (between Broadway and Centre St.) 


Final Vote
Thursday, June 20, 2013 | 5:30pm
The Great Hall 
at Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street (at corner of Third Avenue)


If you can't go, you can submit your views in writing instead by addressing them to the chairman, or any board member, c/o the NYC Rent Guidelines Board, 51 Chambers St., Suite 202, New York, NY 10007 or by email at chair@nycrgb.org.

For more information, contact us at organizing@realrentreform.org.

SUPPORT NYCHA RESIDENTS | JUNE 6


OPPOSE NYCHA'S LUXURY HOUSING PLAN

JOHNSON COMMUNITY CENTER 1883 LEXINGTON AVE | THURSDAY JUNE 6

NYCHA is planning to lease public housing land so private developers can build luxury housing at 8 public housing projects in Manhattan At Campos Plaza, Baruch, La Guardia, Smith, Meltzer, Carter, Washington, & Douglass Houses.
This incredibly shortsighted plan will result in increased police harassment of NYCHA tenants and gentrification of surrounding areas - all while wealthy developers continue to make money hand over fist.

Click here for a flyer in English and Spanish. 

For more info, contact Julian Morales at julian@goles.org