Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Just Say No To Starrett City Sale

The fight over affordable housing in New York is coming to a head in Starrett City. Home to 14,000 people, a development group led by David Bistricer has proposed buying Starrett City for $1.3 billion. With a price tag that high, analysts agree that Bistricer intends to make his money back by converting Starrett City to luxury condos.

How will those 14,000 residents get forced out to make way for condos? Bistricer's Flatbush Gardens property in Brooklyn has 8,792 housing violations, including 1,800 violations in the last 18 months. And by opting out of the state's Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program, Bistricer will be able to raise rents - expect an immediate rent hike of $200 a month. As the combination of lower maintenance and higher rent drives people out, the space will be converted to luxury condos.

If we don't do something now, who knows where in the state our kids will be able to afford to live.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson has the power to reject the deal, and Senator Chuck Schumer has called on Jackson to do so:
"Experts across the board agree: it will be impossible for someone paying this price not to convert the units into high-price rentals or ritzy condominiums. Without question, a sale at this price will change the character of Starrett forever."
The state of New York holds the mortgage on Starrett City, so if Jackson doesn't do the right thing then Governor Spitzer can step in. From the AP:
New York's new Democratic governor, Eliot Spitzer, who campaigned on the promise that he would protect the working class, is another powerful tenant ally -- with leverage.

State officials hold Starrett's $234 million interest-free mortgage and can approve or reject any new owner.
The same article highlights another option to protect affordable housing:
And development of vacant land on the site -- another buyer draw -- also requires state and city approvals.
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has pledged to enforce a 1998 court order barring Bistricer from converting rental buildings to condos or co-ops because of "financial improprieties." Indeed.

More to come.

Technorati tags: |

No comments: