By Joe Marvilli
Days before he got caught up in another sexting scandal, Anthony Weiner revealed his housing plan for the middle class and those struggling to get by.
The former Congressman and current Mayoral candidate presented a seven-point plan in LeFrak City’s Rome Building on July 18, discussing the state of housing today and where it will be in the near future.
The plan’s first item was adjusting the 80/20 Housing Program, which states that 80 percent of a new development’s units can be sold at market price, but 20 percent needs to be set aside for low income residents to be eligible for tax credits. Weiner would add a middle class requirement, making it a 60/20/20 program. To get tax credits under this plan, 60 percent of units would be sold at market price, 20 percent would be sold at a middle class price and 20 percent would be sold at a low-income price.
“You need to have a ladder of housing. You have to have people climb up and up and up,” Weiner said. “It’s part of the American Dream.”
The mayoral candidate also went over producing a Mitchell-Lama housing subsidy program for the 21st century. Created in 1955, the Mitchell-Lama program provides affordable rental and cooperative housing to moderate- and middle-income families.
Weiner also wants to preserve and expand senior housing options, such as the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption. He would increase SCRIE’s $31,000 cap by 10 percent, allowing thousands more into the program. Another goal is doubling the amount of Section 202 housing units over the next ten years.
“It has services downstairs, special accommodations. The units aren’t big but they’re safer units,” he said. “Seniors live together.”
In terms of policies he wants to end, Weiner said he wants to repeal the Urstadt laws, which took the power of rent regulations away from the City and gave it to the State Legislature in the 1960s. Weiner called the scenario a “hostage situation.”
“We have the wherewithal to be able to govern these things and to make the tough decisions on rents ourselves,” he said.
Tackling property tax reform was another component of Weiner’s housing plan. He expressed his dislike of property tax growth, which has gone up 169 percent between 2002 and 2014.
According to Weiner, the effective property tax rate for a luxury co-op on 5th Avenue worth $624 million is .03 percent. The tax rate for a rental building in Kew Gardens with an estimated value of $7.5 million is 5.15 percent. The candidate said he wants to get a commission together to look at the tax code and remove these types of problems.
Zoning that creates both housing and jobs was also on Weiner’s to-do list. To combat neighborhood shopping strips that are closing and eliminating jobs, he proposed creating zoning that would offer an advantage to both businesses and residents. He said that the ground floor of structures could be bodegas or other small shops and the upper levels would be residential.
“You have the best of both worlds,” Weiner said. “We have to stop this false choice between commercial and residential.”
Finally, Weiner pushed for a public-private Marshall plan to restore the 180,000 units of public housing all around the City
“I’m proposing that we reach out in a public-private partnership to the many management companies that exist in this City and bring them in,” he said.
Less than a week after the housing event, reports surfaced that Weiner had engaged in sexual conversations online with a woman last year, an incident similar to the one that led to his resignation from Congress in 2011. On July 23, Weiner held a press conference to accept responsibility for his actions, with his wife, Huma Abedin, by his side. He also rejected any notion that he would drop out of the race.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.