Saturday, June 23, 2007

Lawmakers Let Ratner Charge Low-Income Tenants More Rent at Atlantic Yards

Buried deep inside the complicated verbiage of the 421-a developer tax break reform legislation in Albany, are many goodies, including an extension until next year of the times that developers have to start buildings under the old regulations that were far more favorable to them. (That sound you hear are bulldozers revving so that luxury condo developers can get one last tax break at the public's expense.) Yet, the bill has treated no single developer more generously than Bruce Ratner, whose Atlantic Yards project gets its own set of taxpayer-subsidized breaks and regulations.

Today, No Land Grab highlights the fact that Mr. Ratner will also be allowed to charge low-income tenants higher rent than other landlords in the program:
One detail about the Atlantic Yards exception that most bloggers and reporters are overlooking will likely eventually generate considerable outrage.

Atlantic Yards "affordable" housing isn't just going to cost taxpayers more money than other developments that qualify under the 421-a program. It will hit lower-income tenants in the pocketbook as well!

The very people who are supposed to benefit from 421-a reform will get to kick in a higher percentage of their income toward rent, just for the privilege of living at Atlantic Yards. In the most simple terms, Ratner will get to make more off the poor than all other developers receiving the same tax breaks.

There's more information on this very complicated issue (and the complexity is what allows lawmakers to work on such legislation and insert almost anything they wish with virtual impunity) over at Atlantic Yards Report. Even ACORN, which has been one Atlantic Yards' biggest supporters called the provisions "bad public policy." The bottom line, however, is quite simple: As it has turned out, the 421-a legislation contains a slew of customized tax breaks and goodies for Atlantic Yards. Some of them, as it turns out, will come directly at the expense of low-income Brooklynites.

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