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The New 421-a Tax Abatement Has No Preferences For Local Residents

A rendering of Hallets Point, one of the more high-profile developments to make use of the 421a tax abatement.

When the replacement for the 421-a affordable housing tax abatement was signed into law, it revitalized many projects that were left in limbo when the original program expired. But the new version, dubbed Affordable New York, came back different.

Under the previous 421-a, a "community preference rule" stipulated that half of the affordable apartments in a development subsidized by the program had to be marketed to nearby residents first. Other requirements called for set-asides for veterans, government employees, people with disabilities and families in nearby homeless shelters. But Affordable New York has no such requirements, Crain's New York reports.

Affordable New York is a state law, and Mayor Bill de Blasio had been complimentary of 421-a's community preference rule, but a statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo claimed that the removal of the provisions did not come from his office. New York City can add its own local requirements to Affordable New York, but Crain's cast doubt on such a possibility.

A previous attempt at a 421-a replacement from the mayor's office in 2015 also excised the community requirement, and some believe that such a provision would cause extra scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The local requirement, some argue, could also be counterproductive for developments in gentrified or gentrifying neighborhoods, where the most immediate neighbors could be in less dire need of below-market-rate housing.