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(MSCC) Sharon Jasprizza, Posted: May 1, 2022

SUMMARY: 421-a tax credit is not an affordable housing program.



  • John Mudd welcomed everyone and introduced members to the 9:30 am-10:30 am Tuesday, April 5, 2022 meeting on Zoom and outlined the purpose of the meeting


  • John Mudd spoke about Charisma White’s needs for housing and about her landlords unwillingness  to meet even the basic maintenance needs, and the 421 a tax credit and how it relates to affordability
  • Charisma White’s recent media article regarding homelessness click here! (See addendum A for more comments)
  • Tom Cayler noted in the Chat Box for Charisma: Tom is working with the Manhattan DA’s Fraud Division RE: landlords and building professionals who file false documents w/ DoB.  With 110 outstanding NoVs . . .Please contact Tom Cayler at


Robert Seebeck, CB5, providing inventory analysis of social and housing services in Community Board 5 and presenting findings tomorrow, Wednesday, April 6, 2022, to the CB5 office. Summary of research: 

  • 1,500 total supportive housing beds in 3 locations, Prince George Hotel, Times Square Hotel, and Friends House
  • Breaking Ground is working on a 4th supportive housing location
  • There are religious sites offering housing, such as St Francis Xavier 
  • Two shelters in the area: Main Chance Drop-in Center and Urban Pathways
  • 23 hotels
  • MSCC Street sheets helped Robert Seebeck
  • Robert is looking for ideas to support his research and a resource map
  • The report will be available at some stage

Rue Parkin, HelpNYC, Updates are found in the helpNYC’s April Community Update: and The Resource Navigator is available at:

  • List of services at
  • Landlords and realtors initiative: Rue is gathering data base of voucher friendly landlords and vacant apartments. He is meeting regularly with the Mayor’s Engagement Unit, Neighbors Together, Interfaith Assembly, Unlock NYC, and several realtors to develop a comprehensive list. 
    • He is asking organizations to share their leads of realtors/landlords who have housing units available
  • Email if you wish to partner for the following:
    • If you are working on vouchers
    • Community Speak Project policy briefing about effects of COVID – 19 on families with children
    • Representing people of color, particularly from outer Boroughs
    • If you have community fridges in your community and you want them on helpNYC Listing (see
    • If you wish to receive the nycHELP Street sheets, available in July 
    • If you need volunteers for your Food Assistance Program in exchange for helpNYC flyers in bags
  • Thanks to new listing partners, Ryan-Chelsea Health Clinic, Housing Works

Daniel Pichinson, Ryan, Chelsea Clinton

  • Seeing a rise in COVID – 19 cases in the neighborhood
  • The latest variant, A21 milder, but people with comorbidities need to be careful
  • Rapid tests results are not being reported and the public numbers are undercounted
  • Wear masks, vaccinate and tell your neighbors and friends


John Mudd noted that MSCC and Gateway Housing are talking about adapting a hotel into a medical respite bed. 


Layla Law-Gisiko, CB5, Chair of the Land-use Committee

  • The ESC plan is progressing 
  • The final environmental impact statement is in progress and maybe ready in the summer
  • Letters penned by State senators raising concerns about the project

John Mudd spoke about the housing impacts (destruction of the current housing, adding to the homelessness and housing crisis); there is a greater need to build housing rather than more commercial space. There were a 20% decrease in commercial vacancy prior to COVID and there is even less of a need of retail and office spaces.

421A TAX CREDIT (421A is a tax incentive to build ‘affordable’ Housing)

Samuel Stein, Community Service Society,  Housing Policy Analyst

  • Provided two links to two reports that Community Service Society published (chatbox) and
  • Sam summarized both reports using a PowerPoint presentation
  • Both reports focus on the 50 year-old 421-a tax break for new housing development
  • The 421-a program started in 1971 and turned 50 years old last year. Set to expire in June 2022 unless renewed or replaced
  • 421-a is State Law applied to NYC
  • It is applied “as of right,” which means developers do not have to show that they need the tax break to build the housing; its there to access
  • The program is written 70 to 75% at the market rate and is considered “affordable.” (Since 2016, the new market-rate units, if they are coming in above $2,800, are not rent-stabilized and are in the fully unregulated market)
  • The other 25 – 30% are income targeted; however, in most neighborhoods in NYC, most income targeted areas are expensive and are at the market or above market rate
  • In Hells Kitchen, Chelsea, and Hudson Yards area, the unaffordable housing is clear, housing is less than the market rate but still more than most residents can afford
  • The tax break can last as long as 35 years. Thus, taxpayers are still paying for 2022’s 421-a tax breaks in 2057
  • The timeline of the program is in the two reports. It began in 1971 when the City decided it needed a major incentive for developers to build housing and especially rental housing in NYC
  • The primary concern was not affordability or gentrification but disinvestment and capital flow
  • The program has changed over the years, such as adding the affordability component. The core of the program has remained the same, i.e., 100% tax exemption on new buildings for decades 
  • In the fiscal year of 2021, 421-a cost the City of New York $1.7 Billion in uncollected property tax revenue
  • Between 1990 and 2021, NYC has foregone more than $22 billion (adjusted for inflation)
  • 421-a costs 1,292% more today than it did in 1999. This is a result of increased development,  increased property values, and longer 421-a tax exemptions staying on the books for longer
  • This year, 92.5% of post-2016 projects have used the 35-year program, which can have high AMIs and costs the most since it lasts the longest. This means most of the projects stay on the books for 35 years
  • Table 1 compares how much more is spent on 421-a than what we spend on HPD, Section 8 vouchers, the Federal share of NYCHA funding, etc. Thus 421-a is the single largest budget expenditure in NYC and finances the market rate, not rent-stabilized housing
  • Defenses for 421-a include: 421-a is an affordable housing program. However as Table 3 demonstrates, 421-a produced zero units in 0 – 30% AMI housing, etc
  • The land is too expensive in NY. Without 421-a, developers can’t even build market-rate rental housing. It can be argued that 421-a has made this worse because it has raised the price of land in NY.  The core of the argument is that when this extremely lucrative tax break is available to developers, landowners price this benefit into the land sale price. The developer, therefore, pays more to access the land; they take out bigger loans and set higher condo prices to pay back their debt. The easy availability of this tax break leads to higher prices
  • Ending 421-a won’t put $1.7 billion back into next year’s budget. This is true because we have already committed for decades on end for buildings already committed to 421-a. But this is not the argument for keeping escalating the issue
  • Figure 1 shows the cost of 421-a rising from 1990 to present
  • Community Service Society notes 421-a should end for the following reasons: 
    • NOT because it’s too expensive — we should be spending lots of money on new housing development!
    • NOT because it subsidizes new and tall buildings — we should be building new and tall buildings, just not these
    • 421-a subsidizes the wrong kind of housing – mostly unaffordable housing
    • As an affordability program, it’s incredibly inefficient
    • It locks in austerity politics — i.e., “we don’t have money for X, Y or Z because we’ve shorted our tax roles by $1.7 billion.” 

Elyse Levy, Housing Conservation, Organizer,

  • In Midtown, we have many buildings which have received the 421-a tax break
  • Landlords are misrepresenting to tenants that their affordable apartments are expiring and reverting to market rate, causing them to self evict
  • Working to pass legislation that would fine landlords for misleading tenants are Assembly members Brad Hoylman and Rosenthal
    • Also, working on keeping all rent-stabilized units in perpetuity, so affordability would never be lost. From the Chat Box: Alex Yong, WSNA: Bill A.8899. (Protections in perpetuity) A.8899 doesn’t have a Senate-side sponsor yet
    • It was noted that the CEAW (“Coalition to End Apartment Warehousing”) is presenting a Town Hall, Tues. April 12 at 6:30pm. Gale Brewer will talk about her (City level) anti-warehousing bill, and Linda Rosenthal will discuss hers (State level). For more info contact
  • Future ops: stop developers double-dipping into programs
  • Protect tenants, stop 421-a, and ensure we build affordable housing: Join this coalition and call your senators. Contact Else at
  • Feel free to send any personal narratives about 421-a to

Alex Wong, West Side Neighborhood Alliance (WESNA) and Housing Conservation (HCC)

  • Housing Connect promotes the following as “affordable”: The building advertised on the Housing Connect site is three blocks away from Alex in CB5: Avalon Midtown West at 250 West 50 Street, New York, NY, 10019 has 28 units with household sizes for 1 – 5 people. Income levels served $73,000 – $167,000, Application Deadline April 18, 2022 – Waiting list 
  • On the same site, click on the orange button to find out more: The information provided includes “This building has received a Tax Exemption through the 421 – a (17) Extended Tax Incentive Program of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).”
  • For more information: AHLG (Affordable Housing Leaders Group) every 3rd Tuesday night on Zoom at 6:30 pm \\ Email: or
  • 77 tenant groups hate 485w: please retweet: 

Discussion and ACTIONS

  • Samuel Stein notes there is no long waiting list for AMI housing because of their incomes. However, waiting lists for other types of housing, i.e., genuinely affordable units, are indefinite. People with vouchers can be put in these very expensive units, but why is 421-a used to achieve this goal?
  • Lawrence Wheatman learned that the housing vouchers amounts are different from what is available
  • Layla Law-Gisiko asks Elise about the probability the 421–morphs into the new 485- w code rather than expire? 
  • Elise Levy is not sure and is not in support of this because it’s still another tax break trade
  • Layla Law-Gisiko asks Samuel about recommendations or studies to research this issue?
  • Samuel Stein notes the second of the two reports mentioned above is suitable for researching these issues. 
  • Samuel Stein notes that the 2016 year is good because the 421-1 expired during 2016. It expired because the legislature refused to renew it. After all, there was disagreement over wage rates for new developments. The developers say there was less development in 2016 than in 2015. But 2015 was a crazy year because people tried to file their development applications knowing that 421-a could expire in 2016. Thus 2016 looked a lot like 2014, 2013, and 2012 years
  • The rate of increase in the land went down for the first time in a very long time in 2016. Market prices did not crash, but they were not accelerating like they were when everyone was getting 421-a
  • 2016 was the year when the City had the most affordable housing starts
  • Thus there is evidence that 421-a makes it harder to build affordable housing
  • Marni Halasa raises the point about 2000 vacant apartments available. At the Mayor’s protest last week, Marni learned everyone does everything right, i.e., filling out their forms, but they do not get placement and yet we have vacant apartments. What external pressure could be applied to move this issue?
  • Samuel Stein (CSS) in the Chat Box: In reference to Marni’s question: I believe the 2,500 vacant (supportive housing) units the Coalition for the Homeless was referring to are not being filled because of under-funding from the city:
  • Samuel Stein notes it is a budget fight because of the rollback of services as The Adams agency is decreasing the budgets for these agencies, and hence the 2.500 units can not be run without the staff
  • Elise Levy also notes that people are being evicted from supportive housing because workers are not available to keep these places running. So it’s being perpetuated elsewhere also
  • Samuel Stein notes rebranding for the 421-a was renamed in 2017. After it was renewed, it was called Affordable New York instead. The rebranding was also done for 485-w and is now called the Affordable Neighborhoods for New Yorkers. It is still a massive giveaway to luxury developers
  • John Mudd says the term affordable needs to be discussed further. 30% of income on rent is wrong
  • John Mudd referenced the Blue Slip, where the median is above $82,000, noting the size is very small
  • John Mudd asks the question if developers were involved in writing the legislation for 421-a 
  • Samuel Stein notes the problem relates to the issue that no public benefit has resulted from 421-a legislation 
  • Mariam Rauf notes in Chat Box: I’ve sent Avalon’s clients’ “affordable housing” info to clients
  • Charisma White notes in Chat Box: I still have yet to get help with an apartment with Avalon
  • Mariam Rauf in Chat Box: This is the list of all of their properties in the city and their affordable housing programs
  • Rue Parkin notes in Chat Box: That’s The Dorothy Ross Friedman Residence run by Breaking Ground.
  • Mariam Rauf asks in Chat Box: I’ve wondered how long their waitlists are. If it’s even a realistic wait time (5 years? 10 years?)
  • Mariam Rauf notes in Chat Box: The emergency housing voucher program is issuing about 1200 vouchers for domestic violence survivors. Imagine if those 2,000 available units Marni just mentioned became available to more people in the city
  • Mariam Rauf notes in Chat Box: We work with PEU on those listings. There are almost none in Manhattan
  • Alex Yong, WSNA, notes in Chat Box: some groups do sting ops and then report back
  • Mariam Rauf notes in Chat Box: inlock NYC is a great organization run by people who are/were voucher holder
  • Mariam Rauf notes in Chat Box: We work with them to report discrimination and help voucher holders build confidence in finding apartments
  • Mariam Rauf asks in Chat Box: Is there an email list I can join for future meetings?
  • Rue Parking notes New York housing crosses across a scatter site. Level 1 housing. New York Housing is split into HASA, DV Housing, etc. Safe Haven is more permanent. Thus the numbers are confusing when they are lumped together. Landlords do not understand vouchers and often have stigmas where they will lose other market clients. They don’t always trust the City. Contact the PEU who runs a “city like Zillow” to place vouchers via HRA or whoever prepared the housing voucher
  • Samuel Stein commented on the complication, and the 421-a is a separate issue to accessing housing with vouchers
  • Charisma White asks if anyone is looking for housing for people with vouchers
  • Samuel Stein notes its groups like this that need to facilitate this information to the city to understand the issue
  • Elise Levy refers to affordable housing groups, protests, and events for people to act on these issues
  • John Mudd asks if letters, stories, and other actions are needed to move this issue further
  • Elise Levy notes they meet with legislators, and there is a need to write to legislators.
  • Please pass on personal stories to Elise Levy at
  • John Mudd referred to the upcoming rally and noted it is vital to raise this topic at it
  • Samuel Stein pointed out the Hudson Yards building is a 421-a building which does not provide a lot of affordable housing
  • Samuel Stein notes to a City-Wide Day of Action on April 21, about 421-a
  • Alex Yong referred to the town hall on April 12. warehousing referred to already as an action
  • Josie Warchak notes it’s important to find the people who need convincing. Do we go straight to the State, such as the Governor? How do we reach these people? Josie to send specific interest to John Mudd
  • Elise Levy notes that things get stuck in the housing committees; the speakers at each of these bodies are suitable to be contacted. It’s fine to reach people outside your district also as the volume of calls is important also
  • John Mudd referred to the definitions of housing. See Addendum C
  • John Mudd will make Samuel’s PowerPoint available at

NEXT Meeting Homeless and Housing Meeting: 9:30 AM Tuesday, May 3, 2022. Always the 1st Tuesday of every month. Contact for more information and your Zoom invitations.


Chrisma White media article ‘I have slept under bridges.’ Advocates push for greater protection for city’s homeless population

Apr 04, 2022, 7:28pmUpdated on Apr 05, 2022

By: News 12 Staff

Charisma White is a Brooklyn native who has been homeless before and now with the city’s recent move to increase public safety, she fears that this could be her fate again if she does not get permanent housing.

“I have slept on the train. I have slept under bridges,” White said Monday. “Sweeps and policing don’t address the fundamental question of where people can go.”

White’s story is similar to hundreds of New Yorkers who are a part of the homeless population.

New Yorkers experiencing homelessness say the city shelters are also not a viable option.

“The shelters are not in good condition. I have been robbed, attacked, assaulted,” White said.

Last week, Mayor Eric Adams announced his plans to create new safe havens with shelter access and other services for homeless individuals. White says that the process can also be long and confusing.

“We should have help from every agency to tell you the exact process,” she says. “Handing out a voucher or a piece of paper saying that a person can get an apartment, that’s not really helping.”

BronxWorks, an organization that runs safe havens and shelters, tells News 12 that although not all homeless individuals struggle with mental health, mental health intervention should be a factor in getting people off the streets.

“You can’t expect people to pull themselves up by the bootstraps if you never gave them the boots or the straps,” said White.


Fund Truly Affordable Housing Not Luxury Development

Blog By: Will Depoo

March 28, 2022

The 421-a tax exemption, which has subsidized luxury housing development for decades, is currently set to sunset this year. Governor Hochul’s proposed replacement (485-w) proposal is a sugar-coated version of 421-a that is ultimately still a massive giveaway to luxury developers – not an affordable housing program. As we enter the final week of negotiations around the New York State budget, ANHD explores why we need to reject 485-w, let 421-a expire, and instead focus funding and policy on true affordable housing programs.


The 421-a tax exemption, which has subsidized luxury housing development for decades, is currently set to sunset this year. Governor Hochul’s proposed replacement (485-w) proposal is a sugar-coated version of 421-a that is ultimately still a massive giveaway to luxury developers – not an affordable housing program. The state legislature needs to reject 485-w, let 421-a expire, and use the revenue to fund truly affordable housing and end homelessness.

421-a is not an affordable housing program.

When 421-a was created 50 years ago, it was designed as a general housing supply booster, not an affordable housing program. The city’s population was shrinking and housing development lagged. It was meant to attract middle and upper class households. The current 421-a program and the 485-w program proposed by the Governor continue this legacy.

The current iteration of 421-a was renamed the “Affordable New York” Housing Program in 2017, but this “affordable” program definitively does not meet the needs of low-income and working class renters. This version of 421-a currently in place allows developers full tax exemptions to build rental apartments up to 130% AMI, or approximately $140,000 for a household of three. As a result, nearly three-quarters of the “affordable” units marketed on Housing Connect since 2019 were targeted at households making 130% of Area Median Income (AMI).[1] This is a blatant mismatch with which households actually need affordable housing: less than 1% of New York City’s rent-burdened households make 130% AMI (see our 2021 AMI Cheat Sheet).


In comparison, more than three quarters of rent-burdened New Yorkers make less than 50% AMI, but such apartments made up just 3.4% of 421-a units marketed on Housing Connect during the same time period. Affordable New York builds apartments for rich households, not the low-income and working-class New Yorkers who need them.

The Governor’s 485-w proposal is a sugar-coated 421-a.

Governor Hochul has proposed a new tax exemption program called “Affordable Neighborhoods for New Yorkers” or 485-w, but this is just a sugar coated version of 421-a. Like 421-a, this “affordable” program is primarily a giveaway to private developers, not an incentive to create the kind of affordable housing New York needs. The Governor’s program does not change the fundamental structure of 421-a, in which public resources in the form of lost tax revenue are used to largely subsidize market-rate housing.


Under the governor’s proposal, developers can still receive a full tax abatement for a building with 20% of units targeted to households at 90% of AMI, or $96,660 for a 3-person household, and the rest of the building unrestricted (Option B). Our analysis found that average rent for a 90% AMI 2-bedroom apartment, currently $2,323, is higher than the actual median rent of a two-bedroom in 92% of New York City’s Census tracts. As evidenced by the 2017 version of 421a, developers consistently choose the option that offers the highest AMI targets, meaning developers will likely choose Option B among the rental options in the Governor’s proposal. This means more units at 90% AMI and fewer units overall, since Option B is for smaller buildings. Instead of creating necessary affordable housing, 485-w would create housing that is more expensive than normal rent in most of New York City.

The governor’s proposal also includes tax exemption for condominium development, but one that does nothing to support homeownership opportunities for most New Yorkers. In the proposal, co-op and condo properties would be eligible for Hochul’s proposed exemption for a for units are restricted to buyers earning at or below 130% AMI – an income of $139,620 – for 40 years, with the owners only having to use the home as their primary residence for 5 years.

Just as 421-a has been labeled an “affordable” housing program but has actually encouraged luxury development, 485-w would be a big giveaway to real estate developers without requiring a real public benefit in return. We don’t need a 421-a program with a different name – we need truly affordable housing and protections for tenants statewide. 

421-a is a tax burden on NYC

421a is not only bad housing policy, it’s an enormous waste of public money. 421-a is the City’s single largest expenditure on housing, costing approx $1.7 billion per year; that is more than tenant vouchers, NYCHA, and subsidies for affordable housing development[2]. Given existing 421-a developments, New York City is already stuck subsidizing $14 billion in luxury and market rate housing over the next 10 years.[3] We simply can’t afford to keep adding to this price tag while starving actual affordable housing programs of desperately needed resources.

That same $14 billion could:

  • Subsidize over 100,000 new units of housing affordable to households making an average of $58,000/year[4] OR
  • Subsidize the preservation of 200,000 existing units of affordable housing[5] OR
  • Meet over one third of NYCHA’s total capital needs[6] OR
  • Fund an average $1.4 billion per year to transfer land to community and tenant ownership and stop speculation and displacement OR
  • Distribute an average 117,500 housing vouchers per year[7] OR
  • Fully fund a right to counsel for all New York City residents for 42 years[8]

An actual affordable housing strategy for New York

New York had a longstanding affordability crisis even before the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated racial and economic inequalities and pushed even more households to the brink of homelessness. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers remain behind on rent and risk being evicted. Tens of thousands more are homeless. Now more than ever, we need to target public policy and public money towards developing affordable housing that will actually help to alleviate homelessness and prevent displacement.

421-a and 485-w are developer giveaways masquerading as affordable housing policies. New Yorkers need and deserve better. Policies like Good Cause Eviction protections and Housing Assistance Vouchers would actually help to end the statewide affordability crisis and help New Yorkers who are homeless or at risk of displacement secure safe, affordable housing. It’s up to the legislature to turn away from 421-a and its look-alikes and towards truly affordable housing.

[1] NYU Furman Center report, 2022, Note: There is no readily available source of AMI levels associated with individual 421-a developments. In their analysis, the Furman Center reviewed affordability levels of 421-a units marketed on Housing Connect to gather this data. Furman found that units marketed since 2019 were more reflective of the Affordable New York program options than earlier listings.

[2] Community Service Society report, 2022:

[3] ANHD analysis of estimates provided by the NYU Furman Center. See also, p.22.

[4] Using HPD ELLA Term Sheet per unit subsidy of $137,500, which requires units at an average of 54% AMI (equivalent to $58,000/year for a 3-person household)

[5] Using HPD PLP Term Sheet per unit subsidy of $70,000

[6] NYCHA Transformation Plan, 2021

[7] Using an estimate of $11,800 per voucher through a Housing Access Voucher Program or other subsidy similar to Section 8

[8]Estimated annual cost of $330 million provided by the Right to Counsel Coalition


When advocating for housing rights with a focus on community, the below items are considered:

  • Shelters: Truly transitional; although purposeful, achieving our housing and community goals will eliminate or lessen the need
  • Medical Respite Beds: Health care unit for longer stay and transitioning to housing (see Addendum B: Medical Respite Bed Advocacy Plan)
  • SROs: Single Room Occupancy
  • Supportive: Accessorized with social services
  • Housing First: Unconditional placement
  • Really Affordable: Rentals below the medium wage of 55,000 and or below 30% of income (input)
  • Affordable: The market rate rentals currently available to people above the medium wage up to 88,000 with a 30% of income ask or higher (see Addendum x)
  • Option and Incentives for Home Owner


Samuel Stein is a housing policy analyst at the Community Service Society. Prior to joining CSS, he worked for such housing and labor organizations as Tenants & Neighbors and the Service Employees International Union local 32BJ. He holds a Ph.D. in geography from the CUNY Graduate Center and a Master’s in Urban Planning from Hunter College