Housing leaders call on city to renew J-51 tax program

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Today, middle class cooperative (co-op) homeowners, local elected officials and real estate industry leaders called on the City Council to pass legislation (Pre-Considered Intro T2021-8260) to renew the J-51 program. The legislation would renew the J-51 program until June 30, 2022

Since there is only one City Council meeting – on December 15 – remaining before the end of the 2017-2021 legislative term, the Council must act quickly to renew a program that serves tens of thousands of families citywide.

The J-51 program is a critical tool utilized throughout all five boroughs to improve the quality of the city’s aging building stock and help preserve homeownership for New Yorkers. In fact, nearly 170,000 co-op households benefit from the program. This means that about half of all co-ops citywide are supported by the J-51 program. Through the property tax exemption and abatement program, eligible co-op owners receive direct assistance that help offset the costs of critical upgrades and renovations to residential buildings, which helps to protect housing affordability for both owners and renters.

While a short-term renewal in the City Council would be a major and necessary step forward for tens of thousands of co-op residents, State leaders will also soon play a pivotal role in determining whether the program will be reauthorized for the long-term. Securing the long term extension and improvement of this program in 2022 will be important to supporting middle income co-op homeowners across the five boroughs.

“The J-51 program plays a key role for New Yorkers in co-ops and condos all across the city,” said Bob Friedrich, Co-President of the Presidents Co-op and Condo Council (PCCC). “For so many families, the J-51 program makes the difference between ensuring a good quality of life and worrying whether your building could fall behind on much-needed maintenance or capital projects. The City Council must get the job done to renew this critical program, and State officials must also step up and ensure that J-51 is not only extended but strengthened over the long term.”

“New Yorkers in co-ops and condos should not have to wonder whether they will be able to be able to afford to make necessary repairs and improvements to their homes and their buildings,” said Warren Schreiber, Co-President of the Presidents Co-op and Condo Council (PCCC). “We call on the City Council to move forward on this essential renewal of the J-51 program and we are committed to calling on State officials to take the next logical step with a broader reauthorization of the program.”

“The renewal of the J-51 program is a top priority for the co-op and condo community and we appreciate the support of elected officials who care deeply about preserving this important program for their constituents,” said Geoffrey Mazel, Esq., Legal Advisory to the PCCC. “In addition to pushing for the City Council to act, discussion has generated real momentum behind the effort to deliver a more comprehensive, State-level reauthorization of the J-51 program, along with much-needed improvements to the program that will enable more co-op and condo households to comply with costly City mandates that will take effect over the coming years.”

“For decades, the J-51 program has been an important tool for preserving affordability at our co-op,” said Ambur Nicosia, President of Penn South, an affordable housing development in Manhattan with 2,820 apartments. “The program has enabled Penn South to maintain and upgrade our aging infrastructure without pricing-out our lower-income residents. As we face the need to replace building systems, we are relying on the City Council to uphold its commitment to affordable housing by extending this critical tax abatement program.”

“Here in Queens, many of our residents are still financially struggling in the wake of the dual disasters that struck our borough with ferocity — the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida. Preserving and protecting our affordable housing stock has never been more important, and I encourage the state legislature to pass J-51 to do just that,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “Doing so would both encourage property owners to continue making serious capital improvements while stabilizing rent for the duration of benefits to property owners, and create critical homeownership opportunities for low and middle income working families.”

“This is a critical issue for thousands of my constituents and I remain committed to securing the renewal of J-51, which will alleviate significant cost burdens and provide more peace of mind for Queens families,” said City Council Member Barry Grodenchik. “I also look forward to joining my constituents as we continue pushing to secure broader reauthorization of the program at the State level and avoid the need for short-term renewals in the future.”

“The housing affordability and quality delivered by the J-51 program is a gamechanger for thousands of middle-class families in the Co-op City community and throughout my Bronx district,” said City Council Member Kevin C. Riley. “This legislation will allow long-time co-op homeowners to feel supported  in maintaining and repairing their homes. I’m proud to work with my Council colleagues to make sure we deliver the win our constituents need on this important issue that preserves home ownership in my district. I stand ready to partner with State officials encouraging them to build on this program to ensure long-term reauthorization.”

“Renewing the J-51 program will provides stability and economic opportunity to tens of thousands of New Yorkers, while also protecting housing quality and affordability,” said REBNY President James Whelan. “We look forward to continuing to work with City and State leaders to protect and expand housing opportunities for all New Yorkers.”

“The COVID-19 emergency has left many rent-stabilized buildings in financial distress. These buildings, many over 100 years old, need constant upgrades and improvements,” Jay Martin, Executive Director of the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP). “Additionally, many were forced to make major emergency repairs to boilers and roofs after the remnants of Hurricane Ida struck the city. This is a modest tax break that will help affordable housing providers take care of their tenants without having to raise rent to do so. This City Council needs to reauthorize the J-51 tax abatement. The next City Council needs to reform the program to address the valid concerns some have raised about its efficiency and transparency.”

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