New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier this month 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.
“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,” Mr de Blasio said.
Department for the Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado said there is no issue more on the minds of New Yorkers than the need for more affordable housing, with seniors being at risk of having to choose between food or rent, being evicted or even becoming homeless.
"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."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 and the Senior Affordable Rental Apartments Program, 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. The policy could 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.