Permit Bust

New Building Permits were issued for only about 5400 residential units in the first half of 2016, down 87% from last year, according to a report issued yesterday by the NY Building Congress. The rush to beat the 421a expiration deadline last year and subsequent failure of the Legislature to renew the program are blamed.

That didn’t stop the de Blasio administration this week from touting the success of his affordable housing program in funding 24,000 new or preservation units in fiscal 2016 (ending June 30th). About one third of the 17,000 units “preserved” are at Stuyvesant Town and Riverton Houses, which were in no danger of being lost and are simply being subsidized to keep rents below market.

The effects of the 421a construction boom are also being felt in record numbers of stop work orders, as the Department of Buildings cracks down.

And the Manhattan District Attorney, Tuesday, announced indictments of a building owner, property manager, and contractor for reckless endangerment and other charges related to the rehab of an occupied building in east Harlem.

Taxes are still a problem for existing housing, as shown by a study of tax lien sales issued yesterday by the Furman Center. Between 2010 and 2015, Brooklyn Community District 3 (Bedford Stuyvesant) had the greatest number of residential units in buildings with a lien sale (1,663), Manhattan Community District 10 (Central Harlem) had the second highest number (1,319). Only 42% of properties that had liens sold in 2010 seem to be completely paid off or settled on the record so far.

Once again at a national convention this week the presidential candidates were silent on housing but the party platform proposed action. The Democratic platform calls for incentives to local governments to remove barriers to housing construction and increased funding for the National Housing Trust Fund and the Section 8 Voucher Program.

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