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NYC Program Protects Affordable Mitchell-Lama Developments

A Mitchell-Lama development, the Michelangelo Apartments in the Bronx

NEW YORK CITY—As affordable housing looms large as one of New York City’s most pressing challenges, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced support for the remaining Mitchell-Lama properties. The Mitchell-Lama program provides affordable rentals and cooperative housing to moderate income families. It was signed into law in 1955.

The $250 million commitment to the historic program is part of the mayor’s initiative to save 300,000 units of affordable housing by 2026. Over the next eight years, the program will seek to preserve long-term affordability for 15,000 Mitchell-Lama homes, in both co-ops and rentals. The investment will be used to restructure existing debt, provide long-term tax benefits and pay for critical, structural building repairs.

“From Coney Island to the Upper West Side and for decades, hundreds of Mitchell-Lama buildings have offered stable, affordable homes for New York working families,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We cannot afford to lose one more of these homes. We’re investing to protect them for the seniors and families who helped build our neighborhoods, and for generations to come.”

“We are working on every front to shore up the affordability of our neighborhoods and saving our Mitchell-Lamas is a key priority. As part of our push to accelerate and expand the Housing New York Plan, the new program will expand our capacity to secure the remaining Mitchell-Lama developments, a vital source of affordable homeownership,” said New York City department of housing preservation and development commissioner, Maria Torres-Singer.

Maria Torres-Springer, NY housing preservation and development commissioner

She says backing the Mitchell-Lama program will help preserve the long-term health and affordability of a critical stock of affordable housing for New Yorkers.

Mitchell-Lama developments, originally funded by the federal government, date from the 1950s and 1960s. They are now in need of significant upgrades and repairs. In addition to low cost financing, the program will provide property tax exemptions for the Mitchell-Lama buildings. This financial support will help reduce operating costs to keep rents and maintenance fees low for residents. As a condition for these benefits, property owners must keep buildings affordable for at least 20 more years.

A New York City housing preservation and development department spokesperson Matt Creegan tells GlobeSt.com that to avoid investors from buying and flipping Mitchell-Lama properties, the City uses regulatory agreements to ensure that income qualified buyers stay in their homes for a reasonable length of time before selling. The City restricts the selling price at resale to make sure owners can capture some equity but that homes also remain affordable for future purchasers.

For the Mitchell-Lama program, each development requires a separate application. However, prospective buyers or renters can simultaneously apply to more than one development. The program has eligibility requirements based on income, family size and apartment size. Plus, each development has its own rules and limitations.

The Mitchell-Lama guidelines differ for federally assisted and non-federally assisted developments. For example, with eligibility for a single person, the income limit is $53,450 for a federally assisted rental, $83,516 for a federally assisted co-op and $83,526 for a non-federally assisted development; for a two-person family, the income limit is $61,050 for a federally assisted rental, $95,391 for a federally assisted co-op; and $95,391 for a non-federally assisted development; for a family of three, the income limit is $68,700 for a federally assisted rental; $107,344 for a federally assisted co-op; and 107,344 for a non-federally assisted development. The New York housing preservation and development department provides the full information on its website.

Last year 40% of homes financed served households making less than $43,000 for a family of three, and going forward incomes will match the revised targets for the plan, according to Creegan.

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