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State of the City: Mayor de Blasio Rolls Out New Affordable Housing Initiatives for Seniors, Veterans and Families Most in Need

February 10, 2017

Mayor announces $1.9 billion for deeper affordability at 10,000 apartments; unveils new Elder Rent Assistance program to be funded by proposed ‘Mansion Tax’ to serve 25,000 seniors

NEW YORK – Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced as part of his upcoming State of the City address two major initiatives to help seniors, veterans and other low-income families afford rent in New York City. The first will increase by 10,000 the number of apartments in Housing New York serving households earning less than $40,000—5,000 of which will be dedicated to seniors and 500 for veterans. The second is a new Elder Rent Assistance program to be funded by the City’s proposed Mansion Tax, in Albany, that will serve more than 25,000 seniors with monthly rental assistance of up to $1,300.

“We are taking our record progress on affordable housing and driving it even deeper. This crisis is hitting seniors on fixed incomes, veterans and struggling families especially hard. We’re fighting for their right to live in this city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

"There is no issue more on the minds of New Yorkers than the need for more affordable housing, with our seniors being at risk of having to choose between food or rent, being evicted or even becoming homeless," said Department for the Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado. "The need and vulnerability are real. With 20 percent of our seniors living below the poverty level and half of them paying more than 30 percent of their income toward housing, this funding comes at a critical time as we look to develop new opportunities for affordable housing."

"New York City is home to over 210,000 veterans, all of whom deserve, like every New Yorker, an affordable place to live. Mayor de Blasio's announcement to set aside 500 apartments for veterans in the Housing New York initiative is another testament to his unwavering commitment to New York City's veterans and their families," said Commissioner Loree Sutton of the Department of Veterans' Services.

“The City's unaffordable housing crisis is felt by all but particularly by vulnerable seniors who may live on a fixed income. These new initiatives show progress for seniors and low-income New Yonkers, who are struggling to find stable affordable homes,” said Councilman Ritchie Torres of the Bronx. 

“Too many of today's seniors are living in poverty and too many of our Boomers and Gen Xers who are approaching retirement don't have sufficient savings to afford New York City's high cost of living, particularly for housing.  Today's announcement by Mayor de Blasio is great news for city seniors and all New Yorkers,” Chris Widelo, Associate State Director, AARP New York, said.

Allison Nickerson, Executive Director, LiveOn NY, said, “LiveOn NY's study reported 200,000 low income seniors on waiting lists citywide for affordable housing. We appreciate Mayor de Blasio's recognition of the dire need for affordable housing among older New Yorkers by increasing the number of senior apartments to be built by 50% - from 10,000 to 15,000. Older New Yorkers are anchors in their communities. Building affordable housing is a solution that will benefit both seniors and the whole community. LiveOn NY supports the Mayor's efforts to provide a housing safety net for older New Yorkers.”

Under the new benchmark, the number of apartments in the Mayor’s housing program dedicated to families earning between zero and $40,000 per year will rise from 40,000 to 50,000. Of the 10,000 units, half will serve seniors whose fixed incomes have left them struggling to keep up with rising rents and a further 500 will house veterans.

The Mayor’s Housing New York program is on target to build or protect 200,000 affordable homes in 10 years, and has financed a record breaking 62,500 affordable homes in just three years. That was done on-budget and ahead of schedule. The programs that will see increased funding under the adjusted benchmark are the Extremely Low & Low-Income Affordability Program, ELLA, and the Senior Affordable Rental Apartments Program, SARA, among others, which were established in 2014. Now firmly in place and exceeding their targets, the City is committing an additional $1.9 billion to achieve this deepened affordability through the duration of the plan.

In addition, revenues under the Mayor’s Mansion Tax proposal would be lock-boxed specifically for senior affordable housing. The tax would institute a 2.5 percent marginal tax for incremental price over $2 million. According to recent sales data, the policy would affect the top 4,500 residential real estate transactions in the upcoming year and would generate approximately $336 million in Fiscal Year 2018. Those funds would be devoted to a new rental assistance program for 25,000 New Yorkers, 62 years and older who earn less than $50,000 per year.

The rental assistance would ensure a senior living on a Social Security check of $1,350 per month would spend no more than $450 per month on rent—helping them stay in their home and age with dignity.

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