Working Families Party Strongly Opposes Yonkers Housing Ordinance

Official Press Release from the Working Families Party

The Westchester-Putnam Chapter of the Working Families Party strongly opposes the draft revised affordable housing ordinance submitted by Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano‘s administration to the City Council.

โ€œThe proposed ordinance is weak. It does not meet the needs of the vast majority of working families in Yonkers,โ€ said Westchester-Putnam Chapter Chair Peter Bernstein. โ€œWe have a housing crisis in Yonkers and the Mayor’s response is to propose an ordinance that doesn’t even meet the minimum requirements of the Westchester County model affordable housing ordinance.โ€

In 2021, the Working Families Party supported an amended Affordable Housing Ordinance passed by the City Council. This amendment would have required developers to double the number of affordable units set-aside in multi-family developments from 10% to 20%. Some of these units would have been affordable to residents with incomes as low as 40% of the Westchester area median income (AMI). But in July of that year, Mayor Mike Spano vetoed the legislation and the Council failed to override that veto.

The newly revised housing ordinance would give developers a choice between setting aside a paltry 13% of units if they provide 40% of those units to residents who earn 65% of AMI or below. Alternatively, they can set aside only 10% of the units if they are all available to families with incomes at or below 65% of AMI. The model Westchester County ordinance requires a set aside of 10% of rental units targeted 60% of AMI. Furthermore, the proposed Yonkers ordinance only applies to developments with 20 or more units while the County model applies to developments with five or more units.

In addition, by continuing to base the income target on Westchester median income instead of the Yonkers median income, the ordinance fails to meet the needs of Yonkers residents.

The proposed ordinance allows developers to avoid providing the required affordable units by paying into a housing trust fund maintained by the City. The buyout amounts are significantly less than what it would cost the City to build the same number of affordable units elsewhere.

โ€œThe proposed ordinance is bait and switch. The 2013 ordinance which the Council tried to improve required developers to provide 40% of the affordable units to families between 40% and 65% of the area median income. By not requiring developers to go below 65% AMI and allowing them to avoid a meaningful increase in set-asides, Mayor Spano is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of Yonkers residents,โ€ said Bernstein. โ€œWe urge the Council to reject the proposed ordinance and require meaningful affordable housing for the people of Yonkers.โ€

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