Affordable Housing Video Report

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Affordable Housing Video Report
BALCONY Forum Reveals Universal Support among
Government, Business, and Labor for Affordable Housing
(February 18, 2015) There was universal support from representatives of government, business,
and labor for the ambitious affordable housing plans laid forth in the past year by NYC Mayor
Bill de Blasio and by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, at a forum held by the Business
and Labor Coalition of New York (BALCONY) on Wednesday, February 4th.
BALCONY’s event brought together leading experts to discuss the future of affordable housing
in New York. The forum was highlighted by speeches from NYC Housing Preservation and
Development Commissioner Vicki Been, NYS Homes and Community Renewal
Commissioner Darryl Towns, and NYC Public Advocate Letitia James.
4 West 43rd Street, Ste. 405 | New York, New York, 10036 | 212-219-7777 | www.balconynewyork.com
According to Commissioner Been the event was “truly significant in bringing together leaders
in business and labor in the interest of moving forward with the Mayor’s affordable housing
plan.” Commissioner Been outlined Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 10 year $41 billion plan, which
proposes the rehabilitation of 120,000 affordable housing units and the construction of 80,000
more in NYC by 2024, and spoke about the importance of the Mayor’s vision of engendering
and supporting a non-exclusive housing landscape in NYC. While acknowledging that the plan
faces substantial obstacles, Commissioner Been voiced her belief that the time is right to address
New York City’s affordable housing crisis.
4 West 43rd Street, Ste. 405 | New York, New York, 10036 | 212-219-7777 | www.balconynewyork.com
Video Presentations by the following
Lou Gordon, Director - BALCONY
Vicki Been, Commissioner NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
NYC Public Advocate Letitia James
Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander
Michael Locker of Locker Associates
Ed Wallace of Greenberg Traurig, LLP
John Skinner of Local 46 Metallic Lathers & Reinforcing Ironworkers
Arthur Cheliotes of CWA Local 1180
Benjamin Dulchin of the Assoc. of Neighborhood and Housing Development
Arthur Kremer of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance
NYS HRC Commissioner Darryl Towns
Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President
Joyce Miller of Tier One Strategies
Carol Nixon, Director, AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (NY Office)
Jim Freel of Amalgamated Bank
John Crotty of Workforce Housing Group
Lenore Friedlaender of Build Up NYC
Mark Jaffe of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce
Videos Produced by Jeanne Suggs, Suggs Media Productions
4 West 43rd Street, Ste. 405 | New York, New York, 10036 | 212-219-7777 | www.balconynewyork.com
NYC Public Advocate Letitia James spoke about the threat of “rapid deregulation, illegal
subletting, and other factors in facilitating the rise in city rent costs,” saying, “we must develop
comprehensive solutions to this ongoing problem if we are to maintain New York's economic
diversity.” Ms. James also spoke about the importance of linking the preservation and creation
of affordable housing to industrial jobs in New York City.
Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander echoed his support for the Mayor’s plan and emphasized
the critical importance of inclusionary zoning in accomplishing its goals.
4 West 43rd Street, Ste. 405 | New York, New York, 10036 | 212-219-7777 | www.balconynewyork.com
The first panel, “The Mayor’s Plan and the Future of Affordable Housing in New York City,”
was moderated by Michael Locker of Locker Associates.
In a moment that epitomized the spirit of cooperation that characterized the forum, Ed Wallace,
Co-Chair of the law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP, which represents major housing developers,
and John Skinner, President of Local 46 Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers,
agreed that now is the time for labor and developers to work together on meaningful project
labor agreements (PLA) in order to ensure that the Mayor’s plan is executed expeditiously,
fairly, and safely.
4 West 43rd Street, Ste. 405 | New York, New York, 10036 | 212-219-7777 | www.balconynewyork.com
Mr. Locker emphasized the importance of using union labor in executing the Mayor’s plan,
saying “the challenge ahead for labor, the City, developers and affordable housing advocates is
to cultivate an atmosphere in which we can move forward and meet the needs of the thousands
of New Yorkers who deserve affordable housing for their families. This is an opportunity
which all of us must embrace, but not at the expense of New York City’s labor community.”
Arthur Cheliotes, President of CWA Local 1180, discussed the importance of closing loopholes
and creating/enforcing regulations that prevent private interests from capitalizing on zoning
laws and changes at the expense of low and middle income New Yorkers. He emphasized that
many of his members, despite being city workers, are forced to live as far away as Pennsylvania
due to the high cost of housing in NYC.
4 West 43rd Street, Ste. 405 | New York, New York, 10036 | 212-219-7777 | www.balconynewyork.com
Benjamin Dulchin, Executive Director of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing
Development, spoke about his support of the Mayor’s plan and the need for equitable
economic development and the protection of 421a.
Arthur Kremer, Chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (NY
AREA) highlighted the need for clean and abundant energy supplies to support the
construction and operation of the 200,000 affordable housing units, as well as the role that clean
energy plays in growing a strong, vital economic infrastructure.
4 West 43rd Street, Ste. 405 | New York, New York, 10036 | 212-219-7777 | www.balconynewyork.com
NYS HRC Commissioner Darryl Towns, outlined the importance of all sectors involved in the
preservation and construction of housing to work together. Towns provided a statewide
perspective on affordable housing, focusing particularly on Governor Cuomo’s 2015
Opportunity Agenda. According to Towns, "The Governor is continuing to expand affordable
housing opportunities, announcing his 2015 Opportunity Agenda and the investment of more
than $486 million to create housing for vulnerable New Yorkers. This builds on the successes of
the $1 billion House NY initiative, which is creating or preserving 14,300 affordable units across
the State. Now in its third year, the House NY program will also revitalize thousands of units
of Mitchell-Lama housing stock, extending affordability for 40 more years. House NY is the
State's largest investment in affordable housing in more than 15 years and drives economic
activity and strengthens communities.”
4 West 43rd Street, Ste. 405 | New York, New York, 10036 | 212-219-7777 | www.balconynewyork.com
Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President, spoke about the critical need for affordable
housing for business, families, and workers. She lamented the loss of 100,000 affordable
housing units in Manhattan in the last decade, spoke about the need for free legal aid for lowincome workers, and emphasized the importance of preserving existing affordable housing,
saying “preserving is as important, if not more so, than building new units.” Additionally, she
stressed transparency, supporting small business, resiliency, and green building.
4 West 43rd Street, Ste. 405 | New York, New York, 10036 | 212-219-7777 | www.balconynewyork.com
The second panel was moderated by Joyce Miller, of Tier One Strategies, “Financing
Affordable Housing in New York City; How Business and Labor can Work Together.” Carol
Nixon, Director of the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust in New York City (HIT) spoke
about HIT’s historic and continued commitment to investing in affordable housing, and most
importantly to “to build housing that is affordable in perpetuity.” Joining her on the panel Jim
Freel, Senior Vice President and Chief Real Estate Officer of Amalgamated Bank, also
pledged support in funding affordable housing, citing the Amalgamated Bank’s recent “return
to construction lending” and the bank’s commitment to “100% union labor in construction and
operation of buildings.”
Ms. Miller added, “the challenges presented by the goal of providing affordable housing for
New Yorkers are complex, especially as the need is so great at all levels from the very-low
income to working families displaced by current market conditions. Of primary importance is
4 West 43rd Street, Ste. 405 | New York, New York, 10036 | 212-219-7777 | www.balconynewyork.com
exploring new acquisition strategies and innovative financing techniques so that we can meet,
and even exceed, our goal of 200,000 units.”
Also in the second panel John A. Crotty, a developer and founding member of the Workforce
Housing Group, as well as the former Executive Vice President of the New York City
Housing Development Corporation (HDC), said that he was open to all bids concerning the
rehabilitation of affordable housing. However, he expressed his concern that there was little
data available to developers that accurately weighed the efficacy and financial sense of union
vs. non-union contracts.
Lenore Friedlaender, Executive Director of Build Up NYC, emphasized the fact that working
families need housing and jobs and that “there is no inherent conflict between the two…we
need policy that incentivizes both, and does so responsibly.”
4 West 43rd Street, Ste. 405 | New York, New York, 10036 | 212-219-7777 | www.balconynewyork.com
Mark Jaffe, President and CEO of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, reiterated
his organization’s support for affordable housing as a way to create jobs and increase commerce
for small businesses.
The forum was moderated by BALCONY Director Lou Gordon. According to Mr. Gordon,
“Our BALCONY forum brought together developers, unions, financiers, advocates, and
government to find common ground in the debate over of how New York can realize Mayor Bill
de Blasio’s vision of creating 200,000 units of affordable housing by 2024. Of particular note is
the commitment of NYS housing Commissioner Towns to the financing of affordable housing in
New York State. We look forward to continued participation in this dialogue.”
4 West 43rd Street, Ste. 405 | New York, New York, 10036 | 212-219-7777 | www.balconynewyork.com
The BALCONY event was co-sponsored by the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust, NY
AREA, CWA Local 1180, United Federation of Teachers (UFT), Local 46 Metallic Lathers and
Reinforcing Ironworkers, New York State Ironworkers District Council, Wolf Haldenstein
Adler Freeman & Herz LLP, LOCKER Associates, LaborPress, the Greater New York
Chamber of Commerce, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), Greenberg Traurig,
AARP, and the General Contractors Association of New York, Inc.
4 West 43rd Street, Ste. 405 | New York, New York, 10036 | 212-219-7777 | www.balconynewyork.com
BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, represents more than 1,000 New York
businesses, labor unions, and trade associations. BALCONY seeks common ground in the public policy
debate in New York to spur economic development through the adoption of business/union friendly,
socially responsible common sense laws that maintain and improve the quality of life for working New
Yorkers.
BALCONY is a 501(c)(4) non-profit.
Contributions are not tax deductible and BALCONY makes no political endorsements
nor campaign contributions
Video Production by Jeanne Suggs, Suggs Media Productions
Photos by Tom Buckner
Report Written by Nicholas Kapustinsky
Event Administrator: Katie Brandenstein
Event Co-Chairs: Lou Gordon, Director, BALCONY and Joyce Miller, Tier One
Strategies
Web Master and Computer Consultant: Kevin R. Weaver
4 West 43rd Street, Ste. 405 | New York, New York, 10036 | 212-219-7777 | www.balconynewyork.com