Turning Luxury Condos into Affordable Housing

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An estimated 600 condo buildings are sitting incomplete or largely empty in New York City, while thousands of New York City residents are living in homeless shelters. To solve both problems, Alyssa Katz reports for the American Prospect that a growing chorus of advocates is calling on developers to convert those vacant buildings into affordable housing. The idea would save real estate speculators from their risky investments, allow communities to avoid the negative effects of foreclosures, and give residents places to stay. Katz quotes New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn saying that vacant new buildings “now represent our best asset in the fight for affordable housing.”

The problem is that developers don’t want to give up their investments, opting instead to wait and hope that the market goes back up. In response, advocacy groups and a select few politicians are lobbying for legislation that would force banks to revamp mortgages and provide affordable housing. So far, however, no politician has been able to find the political will to force banks to do much of anything. “We need a carrot-and-stick approach,” New York State Housing Finance Agency CEO Priscilla Almodovar told Katz. “Unfortunately none of us–the state, city, not for profits–has an effective stick yet.”

Source: The American Prospect

Image by See-ming Lee, licensed under Creative Commons.

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