Liberty Bond Housing Coalition Statement

Should WTC Funds Build Luxury Housing?  NO!

Coalition Demands "Liberty Bonds" Build Affordable Housing in Lower Manhattan

A growing coalition of community groups, advocacy, research and service organizations that emerged out of the Labor Community Advocacy Network (LCAN)* has formed to protest the use of “Liberty Bonds” for luxury apartments in Lower Manhattan and to push the Governor and the Mayor to use the bonds to leverage affordable, mixed-income housing instead.

Background

Congress' response to the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center included an authorization of $8 billion in triple tax-exempt Private Activity Bonds, better known as “Liberty Bonds,” to help rebuild Lower Manhattan. The funds are to be divided evenly between Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg, each of whom may use up to $800 million to develop housing. By July, without issuing a comprehensive plan or seeking public input on how to best use the housing portion of the Liberty Bonds, the Governor proposed financing three up-scale apartment buildings (two in Battery Park City and one in the Financial District) that will use $340 million of the Liberty Bonds to create approximately 840 new apartments.

Tax payers to subsidize wealthy developers and high-end renters?

Ninety-five percent of the new subsidized units will rent at market rates ranging from studios for $2,062/month to three-bedrooms for $6,267/month. The projects will set aside only 5% of the units in each building (a total of 45 units) for non-market rates. Non-market, but not affordable to most New Yorkers since these units are targeted to households that earn approximately $94,200 per year for a family of four with rents ranging from $1,649/month for a studio to $2,449/month for a three-bedroom. These apartments are out of reach to the vast majority of New Yorkers including New York City police officers, firefighters and teachers.

The small set-aside and the high income requirement make these proposals a major departure from the long-standing “80/20” affordable housing program of the New York State Housing Finance Agency (NYSHFA), the agency that will allocate Gov. Pataki's portion of the Liberty Bonds. The 80/20 program, which meets the Federal Tax Code requirements for housing financed with federally tax-exempt bonds, sets 20% of the units aside for households making at most, half the NYC Area Median Income. [1] In contrast, the Liberty Bond Program sets aside units for households earning 50% more than the New York City Area Median Income.

Given today’s crisis in affordable housing for low and middle-income families, the Governor and NYSHFA must do better, not worse for NYC families than the 80/20 program. Developers of luxury housing should not be drinking at the public trough in order to deepen their profits while the majority of New York City households struggle to pay rent. We urge the Governor and the NYSHFA to reconsider the three existing proposals. We call on Gov. Pataki and on Mayor Bloomberg – who has yet to release a plan for his $800 million in Liberty Bonds for housing – to use these unprecedented resources to leverage truly affordable, mixed-income housing that will serve the families living and working in Lower Manhattan and provide the foundation for a stable, well-integrated community.  

[1] The New York City Area Median Income is a statistical category that includes the relatively high income Rockland and Westchester counties.

Endorsers of the Liberty Bond Housing Coalition Statement: (as of May 1, 2003)

Alliance for a Working Economy

American Association of Jews from the Former USSR

Asian Americans for Equality

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)

Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD)

ACORN

Chinese Progressive Association

City Project

Coalition for the Homeless

Community Service Society

Council Member Alan J. Gerson, Manhattan’s 1st District & Chair of the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Committee

Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club, Bronx

Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES)

Good Jobs New York

Fifth Avenue Committee

Fiscal Policy Institute

Latin American Workers Project

Little Sisters of the Assumption

Metropolitan Council on Housing

National Association of Korean Americans - NY Chapter

Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project

New York Immigration Coalition

New York Jobs With Justice

New York Legal Assistance Group

Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund

PICCED (Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development)

Queer Economic Justice Network

Rockland Immigration Coalition

Rebuild Coalition with a Spotlight on the Poor

Selfhelp Prince Street Senior Center

St. Nicholas Neighborhood Preservation Corporation

Sunset Park Adult and Family Education

United Neighborhood Houses

University Settlement Society of New York

Women's City Club of New York

Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDCO)

 

To add your organization's name to the growing list supporting the use of reconstruction funds for mixed-income, affordable housing, email Good Jobs New York. Be sure to include your organization's name and the name and phone number of a contact person. Also feel free to include the names of organizations you know of that should be contacted about this issue.

To get involved with the Liberty Bond Housing Coalition, contact Good Jobs New York at (212) 414-9394 ext. 1 or 2.  

To learn more about Liberty Bonds, read Reconstruction Watch Publication #3 on Private Activity Bonds.

* The Liberty Bond Coalition grew out of the Labor Community Advocacy Network (LCAN) a coalition of more than 50 New York City labor unions, community groups, advocacy and research organizations and non-profit service providers that have come together to seek the use of post-September 11th resources to create good jobs and affordable housing as major tools in revitalizing and rebuilding the city. To learn more about LCAN, including its proposal to create 75,000 jobs after 9/11, visit www.lcan.org or contact David Dyssegaard Kallick 212.414.9001 ext. 224 or ddkallick@fiscalpolicy.org.