BALCONY - Business and Labor Coalition of New York

In Syracuse speech, Cuomo revives I-81 tunnel and promises more subsidies

January 11th, 2017

By Jimmy Vielkind

ALBANY — Apparently overruling officials at the state Department of Transportation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday revived the possibility that an elevated stretch of Interstate 81 in Syracuse would be replaced by a tunnel.

Cuomo, a Democrat, said the DOT would consider a tunnel or depressed highway option during the fifth leg of his State of the State tour. DOT engineers, who have long been studying options to replace the aging (and out-of-code) viaduct in the city ruled out a tunnel in October, citing high costs.

“We want to make sure we look at it from all angles to make the best decision that we can, and we want to do some more study to make sure we have all the alternatives and the feasibility of these alternatives,” Cuomo said. “DOT has started their environmental review, and they’re going to be studying three options: a community grid options, a tunnel option — or a depressed highway option — and they will also be studying a combination of the community grid plus the tunnel and the community grid plus the depressed highway to see what is the most feasible and what does the most good and what is the most economic.”

There’s been much debate over what to do about I-81, which bisects Syracuse on its north-south axis and effectively separates its downtown from the hill containing major hospitals and Syracuse University.

Many urban leaders, including Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner (who has feuded with Cuomo) said they would like to see through traffic diverted to another highway and a street-level grid implemented. Suburban interests, including the owners of the Destiny USA mall and Senate Deputy Leader John DeFrancisco, see the flow of traffic along the highway as important for their business.

Cuomo said in a press release that the DOT, which began its review in 2013, would engage an “independent expert with international tunnel expertise” for the additional review.

The governor’s speech included two other major economic development announcements.

After repeating familiar themes about the importance of high-tech jobs, Cuomo announced the state would give Saab $30 million to put the North American headquarters of its defense division in Onondaga County.

The move would create 260 new jobs, Cuomo promised, and builds on research on drones that has been ongoing at Griffiss Air Base in Rome as well as by existing aerospace companies in the Syracuse suburbs.

“We have been ahead of this from day one. The development is all happening here,” Cuomo said.

The governor also announced state resources to renovate Hancock International Airport, which Cuomo said was dark, unwelcoming and outdated. The overhaul would cost $45 million and include a new regional aviation museum.

Finally, Cuomo said he would place new “Buy American” preferences on state contracts that exceed $100,000. The move was cheered by New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, who was present for the speech.

“Our hard-earned tax dollars, as well as our jobs, should not be sent overseas, particularly when we have the best skilled workers in the world ready to do the job,” Cilento stated. “With Buy American, we will be creating good manufacturing jobs and strengthening local economies, including right here at home in New York.”


Fixing America’s infrastructure one career at a time

September 6th, 2016

By Robert Bartels Jr.

As the presidential campaign heats up this fall, one of the few topics on which both candidates seem to largely agree is the need for our country to seriously invest in fixing, improving and expanding public infrastructure. Both Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have announced plans to pour billions into infrastructure.

The Clinton campaign has put the amount at $275 billion over five years, while Trump has vowed to double that. Many experts believe even those amounts are not enough to improve our existing roads, bridges, ports, airports and other major transportation and utility infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America a D+ in its most recent report card on the state of our infrastructure and earlier this year estimated we will need to spend $1.4 trillion between now and 2025 and $5.2 trillion by 2040.

In addition to the benefits this would bring to our economy by allowing goods to be moved faster and more efficiently, creating a true and lasting national infrastructure plan will create jobs. Currently, some 14.5 million Americans work in infrastructure-related jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than in education or manufacturing. Increasing spending on the order of hundreds of billions of dollars would of course add significantly to that number.

Of course, this begs an important question: What kind of jobs? Will the people who build and maintain everything from highways to water tunnels to electricity grids be climbing the ladder into the middle class or will they be mired at the bottom of the economic rung, left without decent pay, health care, benefits or job security?

It is vital that as we expand economic opportunities, we do it in a way that actually helps the people who will be gaining those opportunities. People need not only jobs; they need jobs that allow them to live, work and raise a family in their communities. They need jobs that provide benefits and protections should they be injured, jobs that give them the ability to save for retirement and send their children to college. Historically in America, these types of blue-collar jobs, and the dignity and stability they provide workers, have been achieved via unions.

We hear a lot of negative rhetoric about unions from politicians and business leaders alike. But it was the union movement that gave our society the 40-hour, five-day workweek; paid overtime; workplace safety standards; and the creation of OSHA, which ensures that people are protected at potentially dangerous worksites. It was unions that pushed for health benefits and paid sick time.

Starting in the era of the Gilded Age, it was the labor movement – galvanized later by the deadly Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Lower Manhattan in 1911 – that helped create the nation’s first building codes, mandatory stairwells and fire safety regulations, all of which have undoubtedly saved countless lives in the century since.

So as we pause to recognize and honor hard-working men and women on Labor Day, let’s not lose sight of what organized labor has achieved for this country. It has allowed generations of Americans to rise above abject poverty and inequality imposed on working class people, especially in the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th century. Those times are remembered for lavish mansions and lifestyles of the super-wealthy, which were fed by low wages and work exploitation.

The gains we have made did not come without struggle and we must be vigilant to ensure that new jobs now and in the future help workers join in the effort to move our country forward, rather than get left behind in poverty and uncertainty.

Robert Bartels, Jr. is a 35-year piping industry veteran and Business Agent-at-Large of the 8,500-member Steamfitters Local 638. Steamfitters design, install and maintain critical fire sprinklers, piping, heating and cooling systems in tens of thousands of high-occupancy commercial, residential and industrial buildings throughout the New York region.


Three Years in Two Minutes

August 29th, 2016

New Video Captures Construction Progress

The New NY Bridge project has become a symbol for what the state can accomplish.

Watch the new twin-span crossing take shape during the past three years in this new time-lapse video. From steel girders to concrete towers, from piles to road deck, from shoreline to shoreline, the transformation has been amazing.

Initiated by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the 3.1-mile New NY Bridge project is one of the largest active projects of its kind in the nation.

The time-lapse video debuted today as part of Governor’s Day at the Great New York State Fair in Syracuse, a 12-day celebration that shares the best that New York State has to offer. For those visiting the State Fair, you can check out the video at the Governor’s booth.

The video is also available on the New NY Bridge project’s YouTube page.

Those interested in a closer look are also invited to view the daily project progress via the project’s webcams and photo gallery as well as by visiting the New NY Bridge construction viewing platforms at Scenic Hudson RiverWalk in Tarrytown and Memorial Park in Nyack.

Federal funding for Gateway project gains steam

July 13th, 2016

By Dana Rubinstein and Ryan Hutchins

In November, the federal government and the states of New York and New Jersey agreed to split the formidable cost of replacing the sole, rapidly deteriorating train tunnel connecting Midtown Manhattan to New Jersey.
The states’ funding plan, which was to be developed by an entity housed in the Port Authority, has long been shrouded in mystery – including how the two states plan to split their half of the burden.

On Monday, a Port spokesman declined to provide any more details about the status of the scheme.

“Seems like there are so many more immediate things to worry about. I honestly have not even thought about that scenario,” said New Jersey State Sen. Bob Gordon, a Democrat who chairs his chamber’s Legislative Oversight Committee and has spent a considerable amount of time advocating for the Gateway project.

In Washington, things are moving slightly more quickly. In the coming days, the federal Department of Transportation is expected to announce that two elements of the Gateway Program will begin the two-part review process required to access grants from the New Starts program, which has helped fund mega-projects like the Second Avenue Subway.

The “project development” phase of the New Starts process involves the “complete environmental review process including developing and reviewing alternatives, selecting locally preferred alternative (LPA), and adopting it into the fiscally constrained long range transportation plan,” according to the transportation department’s website.

The new rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River and the new Portal Bridge in New Jersey, which will replace the existing, century-old, bottleneck of a swinging bridge over the Hackensack River, are expected to cost upwards of $10 billion. The overall Gateway program – including an expansion of Penn Station – is expected to cost more than $20 billion.

New Starts, along with other federal grant and loan programs, are expected to comprise a bulk of the federal government’s contribution to the plan.

The existing rail tunnel, which is owned by Amtrak but most heavily used by NJ Transit, was falling apart even before Hurricane Sandy inundated it with salt water.

Since then, federal officials have warned that its demise is imminent.

Spokesmen for Amtrak and the USDOT declined comment for this story.
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With colossal contracts coming up, five big transportation contractors to watch

July 11th, 2016

by Jon Lentz

Early this year the Cuomo administration boasted of a public infrastructure plan that was so sweeping it would exceed $100 billion. That total, which includes substantial funding from the federal government, local governments and semi-independent authorities in addition to state dollars, has fluctuated somewhat since then. Capital investment for the state Department of Transportation will be higher than initially proposed, for example, while the bulk of a promised $20 billion for a state housing plan is up in the air.

But the sum is still useful as a rough estimate of upcoming state infrastructure spending, with such major transportation projects as the trans-Hudson Gateway rail tunnel andan expanded Penn Station in the planning stages and a new Tappan Zee Bridge, the Second Avenue Subway and an overhauled LaGuardia Airportall underway.

So, who will cash in over the next few years? If history is any guide, a number of big players could be in line to secure some top-dollar transportation infrastructure contracts. Of course, it’ll all depend on how the bidding processes go – but in the meantime, here are five big contractors to watch.

AECOM, a Los Angeles-based design firm, has played a role in a number of major New York transportation projects: the new Tappan Zee Bridge, a redevelopment project at JFK International Airport, the East Side Access project connecting the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal and a handful of bus rapid transit projects in New York City.

Perhaps its most notable role, however, is as the prime engineering and design consultant for the Second Avenue Subway, whose first phase is scheduled to open in December. The MTA, which won additional funding for the project in this year’s state budget, is already gearing up for Phase 2.

The firm, which works on dozens of international projects, significantly expanded its New York footprint in 2010 when it acquired Tishman Construction Corp.

2015 revenue: $17.99 billion
2015 profit: $535.19 million


The Texas-based construction company heads up Tappan Zee Constructors, a consortium that is building the $3.9 billion replacement for the aging Tappan Zee Bridge.

In January of 2013, the New York State Thruway Authority awarded the contract for the project, the largest of its kind in state history. It is scheduled be completed by 2018, and its use of design-build as a project delivery vehicle could help it meet that deadline.

The firm, which works on projects around the globe, also led the construction of the Port Authority’s $3.2 billion World Trade Center transportation hub and was project manager for the $1.4 billion International Arrivals Terminal at JFK Airport.

2015 revenue: $18.11 billion
2015 profit: $412.51 million


This construction and engineering company, which is headquartered in Omaha, does work all across the United States as well as in Canada. In New York, its biggest transportation infrastructure jobs are on two Port Authority structures: the Goethals Bridge and the Bayonne Bridge.

In 2013, Kiewit and a partner won a $1.5 billion design-build contract to replace the Goethals Bridge, which connects Staten Island to New Jersey. The same year, Kiewit and Skanska began a $1.3 billion project to raise the Bayonne Bridge, which also connects New Jersey to Staten Island, to allow larger ships to pass under it.

The company has also worked on several other structures in New York, including a $644 million contract to replace New York City’s Willis Avenue Bridge.

2015 revenue: Nearly $10 billion, according to the company
2015 profit: Not disclosed


Sweden-based Skanska AB specializes in commercial, residential and transportation infrastructure projects in the United States and Europe. It has an extensive presence in New York, where it built the Oculus structure at the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub and has done rehabilitation work on the Times Square subway station, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, Triborough and Bayonne bridges.

Its two most notable projects in New York, however, are the Second Avenue Subway and the upcoming overhaul of LaGuardia Airport. Along with J.F. Shea Construction Inc. and Schiavone Construction Co., Skanska won a $337 million contract to complete the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway, which is set to open this year. Skanska has won several additional contracts on the project as well.

More recently, as part of the LaGuardia Gateway Partners consortium, Skanska will spearhead the $4 billion effort to rebuild and connect the outdated terminals at the Queens airport. And looking ahead, the company is also in the running to win a bid to expand Penn Station, another major Cuomo initiative.

2015 revenue: $153.05 billion
2015 profit: $4.78 billion


Tutor Perini Corporation, which is based in California, recently won several contracts to complete the East Side Access project, which will connect the Long Island Rail Road directly to Grand Central Terminal. In January, the MTA awarded a $663 million contract for tunneling, as well as a $79 million contract to upgrade railroad infrastructure in Sunnyside, Queens.

The company, which also specializes in commercial buildings, also won a major contract to construct two buildings at the Hudson Yards development in Manhattan.

2015 revenue: $4.92 billion
2015 profit: $45.29 million


Infrastructure: Hillary Clinton’s Big Idea and Best-Kept Secret

June 23rd, 2016

by Bill Ayres

Hillary Clinton talks about many important issues on the campaign trail including reforming the criminal justice system, immigration reform, providing affordable college education, raising the minimum wage, providing equal pay for women, protecting Social Security and Medicare and a whole host of foreign policy initiatives. All of these are worthy goals and she ought to push hard for their approval from the fractured Congress she may be facing no matter how well the Democrats do in the 2016 elections.

But what might be her one “Big Idea” that could secure bi-partisan support and make a major difference for our country now and in the future? For Barack Obama it was the Affordable Care Act which despite its limitations has provided health insurance for more than 16 million people who did not have it before. For Dwight Eisenhower it was massive interstate highways that are now more than 60 years old. For Hillary Clinton it could be her investment in America’s whole infrastructure, “Building Tomorrow’s Future Today”.

Most of this article is taken from her plan which you can read on her website but which is rarely discussed in the media or on campaign stops. It is admittedly not a politically sexy issue but it could be the one issue that would win bi-partisan support and be her legacy accomplishment.

Building Tomorrow’s Infrastructure Today

-It would increase federal infrastructure funding by $275 billion over five years.

-$250 billion would be direct public investment.

-$25 billion would go to a national infrastructure bank which would leverage the money to make an additional $250 billion in direct loans, loan guarantees and other forms of credit enhancement.

- The bank would also administer part of a renewed and expanded version of President Obama’s Build American Bonds program.

America’s Infrastructure Needs

-Roads and bridges: more than half of our highways are 45 years or older and almost one in four bridges are in need of repair. The average motorist spends almost $1,000 a year in extra fuel and countless hours because of heavy traffic and another $500 in repairs due to “potholes”. Consumers also pay more for food and other items due to higher shipping costs. This bill is long past due. The longer we delay the bigger and more difficult it gets. Failure to spend $1 in road repair now typically results in costs of $7 five years later. There are about 33,000 traffic fatalities each year and one third involve poor road conditions. Road repair saves money and more important, lives. REPAIR, REPAIR, REPAIR!

-Public transportation: ridership is growing each year and so are crowding and delays due to insufficient trains and buses and traffic jams at major hubs. INVEST, INVEST, INVEST!

-Freight investment: upgrades in the 25 most costly freight bottlenecks, starting with Chicago.

-Airports: the newest US airport is 20 years old and our best rated airport is ranked 30th in the world. This Clinton initiative will create several world class air hubs that also connect people to mass transit. It would also bring our air traffic control system into the 21st century.

-Internet access: President Obama has made this a priority. This initiative will commit to providing 100 percent of American households with affordable first class broadband access and connect public schools and libraries to high-speed broadband.

-Dams and levees: we have more than 84,000 dams and 1000,000 levees that protect us from floods, facilitate the movement of goods and generate electricity. This plan would provide funds to inspect and repair them.

The benefits to this investment are many, including between 2 and 3 million living wage jobs, cleaner water and air, an opportunity for advanced internet learning, up to date information for farmers and businesses, greater safety and efficiency on our roads and in the air AND borrowing at a time of low interest rates. Bernie Sanders has proposed a plan to invest a trillion dollars over five years and the American Society of Engineers estimate that it will cost 3.6 trillion by 2020 to catch up with infrastructure needs. Clinton’s plan will not do the whole job but it could be a viable compromise and first step on a long road to replenishing our vital infrastructure. She could call it REINVESTING IN AMERICA.

Secretary Clinton says she wants to work across the aisle with Republicans. This could be the one to break the political log jam in the Congress and bring our country together on something we all agree needs to be done.

OH! There is one thorny issue to be resolved. Secretary Clinton says she will pay for all this by “REFORMING BUSINESS TAXES”. Will she look to the big businesses that will benefit from this investment as well as bankers to pay more? Will they be willing to pay their fair share to invest in the country that has given them so much?


Gov. Cuomo approves MTA’s $27B repair and upgrade plan

May 25th, 2016

by Dan Rivoli

The long wait for transit riders is over — the MTA’s $27 billion repair and upgrade program was finally approved in Albany, Gov. Cuomo announced Tuesday.

The money covers everything from track and station repairs to new train cars and buses.

It includes big-ticket projects like the start of Second Ave. subway’s next phase into East Harlem, East Side Access for Long Island Rail Road and the replacement of the MetroCard.

“The MTA is the lifeblood of the New York metropolitan area’s transportation network and we must ensure it has the capacity to meet the travel demands of the next generation and fuel one of the largest economies on the globe,” Cuomo said in a statement. “By investing in the most robust transportation plan in state history, we are reimagining the MTA and ensuring a safer, more reliable and more resilient public transportation network for tomorrow.”

The capital plan is the MTA’s largest, but took months of political wrangling on a price tag and financing before approval at a time when the transit system is buckling under a large number of riders.

Cuomo has promised an $8.3 billion contribution to the plan in a deal with Mayor de Blasio, who will put $2.5 billion towards the MTA’s program.

The source of those funds has yet to be determined. But the MTA will have to exhaust its financial resources before the state and the city kick in its portion.


RPA Unveils Preliminary Plan Proposals at Assembly

May 17th, 2016

Should the New York region make modest changes to the way transit systems are run, or overhaul them completely? How important is it to preserve existing neighborhoods when new housing is contemplated? And how will new technology such as self-driving cars alter the suburban landscape?

Policy makers, planners and other experts gathered at the RPA Assembly on May 6 to debate these issues and many others facing the metropolitan region. The debates were anchored by eight preliminary proposals of the Fourth Regional Plan, unveiled for the first time at the Assembly. The plan, due out in 2017 with many more recommendations, will be called A Region Transformed, RPA President Tom Wright announced at the event. The name reflects RPA’s belief that profound changes are needed to sustain and expand the region’s success.

RPA also was delighted to hear from three distinguished keynote speakers, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, all of whom underscored the need to invest for policy makers to work across borders and jurisdictions to make sure that the country’s infrastructure needs are met.

Read the full article: RPA

500 Affordable Units to Rise on Housing Authority Land in Bronx and Brooklyn

May 5th, 2016

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Moving toward its goal of building 80,000 new affordable housing units over 10 years, the de Blasio administration plans to announce on Thursday that it will lease public housing land to build nearly 500 apartments for low-income tenants, most of them elderly. The apartments will be in three buildings that will rise up to 16 floors in the parking lots and grassland of housing projects in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

New York City has selected three private developers for the buildings at the Mill Brook Houses in the South Bronx and at the Ingersoll Houses and the Van Dyke Houses in Brooklyn. The additions to the grounds of the three housing projects will feature amenities and services like rooftop gardens, arts and technology programs, community centers, preschool education, social services and a walk-in urgent care center, housing officials said.

The agreements between the New York City Housing Authority and the developers are expected to be finalized by the end of the year, with construction expected to start next year and last about two years, officials said.

The sites were included in a strategic plan announced last year by the housing authority that seeks to shore up the deteriorating public housing stock as well as increase the stock of affordable units. The 489 units in the new buildings will charge below-market rents to households earning 20 to 60 percent of area median income — or $12,700 to $38,100 a year for one person — and public housing residents citywide will get preference for 25 percent of the apartments, officials said.

The new services and amenities will be open to both housing authority residents and the residents in the surrounding neighborhoods, officials said.

“We expect that our developer partners are going to integrate these new buildings with the existing community to ensure that residents feel there’s a benefit,” said Shola Olatoye, the chairwoman and chief executive of the housing authority.

Although the city has tapped available public housing land before to build affordable housing, the new construction comes as the city is struggling to keep up with the demand for low-cost housing and the housing authority is facing large deficits. The new all-affordable buildings are the first three of 50 to 60 similar buildings city officials envision on housing authority land; they are expected to generate about 10,000 below-market-rate units, officials said.

The all-affordable buildings are expected to generate up to $200 million in fees from developers over 10 years. But to raise up to three times as much, administration officials also have plans to use land parcels within public housing in prime real estate locations for buildings in which half the units would rent at market rates.

Already, plans for the first two of 30 to 40 of these hybrid buildings envisioned by the housing authority have been announced for housing projects in Brooklyn and Manhattan. But residents weary of gentrification are adamantly opposed to these additions. The concept proved equally controversial when first proposed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Residents have been more welcoming of the all-affordable buildings, partly because there is more consensus on the need for housing for the elderly, and housing authority officials have met regularly with tenants to hear their concerns. The developers chosen for the three lower-rent buildings are BFC Partners, a company that builds both affordable and market-rate housing; Dunn Development, an affordable housing developer that has already built on housing authority property in the Bronx; and West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing, a nonprofit provider of senior housing and services in Mott Haven in the Bronx.

The housing authority is leasing the land for the three buildings under 60-year leases that guarantee affordability for at least that long, officials said.

The proposal for “Ingersoll Senior” at the Ingersoll Houses in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, by BFC Partners, consists of a 16-story building with 145 apartments on the site of an unused grass area for people 62 years or older earning up to 60 percent of area median income. It will include a senior center with a large variety of social, health and cultural services.

At the Van Dyke Houses in Brownsville, Brooklyn, Dunn Development plans to build Dumont Commons, a 13-story building on the site of a parking lot with 188 homes for single adults and families earning 30 to 60 percent of area median income. The building will offer a walk-in urgent care and wellness center and many early childhood, prekindergarten and after-school programs, among others.

“It will bring tons of jobs to the community, at least 50 employees for the two health care programs and 33 employees for early childhood and pre-K,” said Martin Dunn, president of the company. “And we are committed to hiring a significant number of Nycha residents for construction jobs,” he said, using the acronym for the housing authority.

Mill Brook Terrace in the South Bronx, by the West Side Federation, will have 156 units within nine floors for low-income older adults. The building, on the site of a current parking lot, will include a senior center, a community room for the use of the neighborhood and a rooftop garden.

The units will be available to applicants earning 20 to 60 percent of area median income.

Asked about the plans on Wednesday, however, some housing authority residents in Brooklyn said they had no knowledge of what was coming.

At Ingersoll, Samantha Newton, 49, said she had heard about the proposed building but she felt that, combined with all the other glassy residential buildings going up in the neighborhood, it would make the area “Little Manhattan.” She said she would rather see money spent on improving the existing buildings.

But another tenant, Gertrude Moore, 71, said: “If they build apartments for seniors, I’ll be glad to go in. I wouldn’t have to worry about kids playing in the hallway, throwing balls against my door, eating in the hallway.”

Still, she worried she may not have enough income to qualify. “Their low is not my low,” she said.


Gonzalez: NYC’s housing reports so flawed they’re nearly useless

May 3rd, 2016


Mayor de Blasio is using fuzzy math to tabulate one of his signature projects, the building of new affordable housing units, Controller Scott Stringer said Thursday.

In a letter to de Blasio’s Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, Stringer said his office found so many errors and omissions in a periodic report required by the City Council since 2012 to track both new affordable units and the subsidies handed to real estate developers that the data are almost useless.

According to Stringer, housing officials have only been listing rent levels for 20% of some 1,000 buildings that are currently in the database and for which a portion of housing units must be affordable.

In some cases, entire buildings that received major city subsidies are not even listed in the database that the Council’s legislation, known as Local Law 44, created.

Take, for example, the huge Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn developed by Greenland Forest City Partners, Bruce Ratner’s joint venture with a huge Chinese company.

One of the developers’ buildings, 535 Carlton Ave., received $85 million in loans from the city’s Housing Development Corp. and is supposed to offer all units as affordable. Another, at 38 Sixth Ave., benefitted from $93 million in HDC loans and is likewise supposed to be 100% affordable.

But neither building is listed in the latest Local Law 44 report.

“Whether these omissions occur due to the law failing to explicitly require information or through the city’s interpretation of the law, the result is the same,” Stringer said in the letter obtained by the Daily News.

“The public is deprived of basic information necessary to analyze and understand the city’s affordable housing construction efforts,” Stringer said.

De Blasio’s aides immediately dismissed the criticism as an attempt to smear the housing program.


“There’s not much he (Stringer) gets right in his letter,” said Vicki Been, commissioner for housing preservation and development.

“We are following the law,” Been said. “If the controller has a problem with the law, he should take it up with the Council.”

According to Been, her agency is not reporting on projects that receive financial assistance solely from HDC because it is an “independent agency.”


That ignores the simple fact that the majority of HDC’s governing board is made up of City Hall executives, including Been.

In 2014, HDC provided developers nearly $2 billion in affordable housing assistance. By what reading of Local Law 44 should that money not be tracked?

The law specifically defines financial assistance as “any loans, grants, tax credits, tax exemptions . . . or other thing of value allocated, conveyed or expended by the city.”


The only tax break the City Council specifically excluded from the law’s reporting requirement is the now-expired luxury housing exemption known as 421a.

Given de Blasio’s promise to build and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing, and all the money being spent to achieve that, there’s certainly a need for one reporting system to track what actually happens.

“Right now, we don’t know how many units are being built, what the rent levels are, how long they are affordable and whether the programs we are funding are actually helping the New Yorkers who need it the most,” Stringer said.