Pratt Center Project

Democratizing Planning

Reforming NYC's 421-a Property Tax Exemption Program

Pratt Center played a pivotal role in reforming the 421-a tax abatement to sponsor the creation of affordable housing beyond central Manhattan.

Pratt Center has played a pivotal role in reforming the 421-a tax abatement, available to developers in certain zones of New York City who sponsor the creation of affordable housing, to expand the program's reach beyond central Manhattan.

Former director Brad Lander served on a mayoral task force evaluating options for reform of the program, which cost New York City $400 million in 2006 even while many developers receiving the benefit were not obligated to produce affordable housing in exchange.

As a result of a successful campaign on which the Pratt Center worked closely with ACORN, Habitat for Humanity, Housing Here and Now, Queens for Affordable Housing and others to campaign for reform, the "exclusion zone" in which developers seeking the tax benefit must provide affordable housing expanded into parts of all five boroughs. The 2008 reforms also for the first time required all affordable housing to be built on the same sites as market-rate units (previously, they could be located elsewhere); gives community residents preference in the application process for half of all units initially offered for rent or sale; requires rent stabilization for a minimum of 35 years; and pay prevailing wages to building workers. For more details, see the New York City Department of Housing and Preservation and Development's guide.

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