During the 1960s and 1970s New York City lost 350,000 private housing units to disinvestment and abandonment. With a replacement value of over $40 billion, that contagion of housing loss ranks as one of the worst economic disasters in the citys history. Although public memory of the calamity has begun to fade, most housing professionals believe that new threats to the stability of the private, low-income housing stock loom even as many of the underlying causes of abandonment remain unresolved.

Rising water and sewer rates, new lead paint and fire sprinkler regulations, and the uncertainties of welfare reform all pose potential threats to the viability of low-income housing in the city. Meanwhile, the city has never adequately addressed the inconsistencies of its property tax system, and many of the stop-gap measures implemented in the 1970s and 1980s have begun to run their course.

The Giuliani Administration articulated its basic policy toward low-income housing preservation in October, 1995. The plan emphasized disposition of the citys in rem housing inventory, new tax foreclosure procedures, including tax lien sales and direct third-party vestings, and the need to address structural problems in the economics of low-income housing. Now, after a number of fits and starts, the basic elements of the approach have been put in place.

Read CHPC’s assessment of the Giuliani Administration’s progress on its low-income housing preservation policy.

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