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Monday, September 24, 2007

Are Public Funds Jeopardizing Roosevelt Island Affordable Housing?


Citylimits, described as an urban affairs news source, reports on a study showing public pension funds being used to partially finance the purchase of former Mitchell - Lama housing developments, including on Roosevelt Island, thereby, some claim, jeopardizing the future of affordable housing in New York City. According to the article:

City and state employee retirement funds are helping support purchases of former Mitchell-Lama developments at eyepopping prices, in an odd twist that has public investments benefiting from the erosion of a once-successful affordable housing program, according to a new analysis by city housing advocates.
And:
State Assemblyman Micah Kellner, a Democrat whose Upper East Side district includes one of the purchased properties, criticized the investment of retirement funds for city and state employees in “private equity groups that purchase former Mitchell-Lama developments and make them unaffordable to those same workers.”
Also:
The city comptroller's office, which has heavily invested retirement funds in affordable housing, is concerned about the loss of such apartments through public investments, spokeswoman Laura Rivera said. "The comptroller is sensitive to investments in real estate deals that have a negative impact on affordable housing. In fact, he finds the practice of investing in speculative real estate deals that pressure low-income tenants very troubling and will do everything in his power to protect tenants at risk," Rivera said.

But Thompson did not consider the Harlem portfolio to be an unwise investment, she said. “This does not seem that it would be the type of investment that would have a negative impact on affordable housing,” she said.

In response to that, Kellner said, “I would have to disagree with that. From my firsthand experience I see this investment has a negative impact on affordable housing.” Kellner's district includes residents of a development on Roosevelt Island that was part of the $938 million deal. The assemblyman spoke with the city comptroller’s office late Friday and planned to meet with them further in the coming weeks on the investment.
New York Observer has the story on the real estate transaction.
Roosevelt Island 360 comments here.
More on Assemblymember Kellner here.
Image is from the Mitchell-Lama Residents Coalition.

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