Yonkers Mayor Spano Vetoes Boost in Affordable Housing Requirement
Real Estate In-Depth | July 8, 2021
YONKERS—After the Yonkers City Council approved an amended Affordable Housing Ordinance late last month that would increase the affordable housing requirement for new development projects from 10% to 20%, Mayor Mike Spano vetoed the measure on July 7th saying it is infeasible without significant public subsidy.
The mayor cited an independent report conducted by HR&A Advisors, Inc. in his veto message, which stated that the proposed amended AHO will result in a halt to new market rate housing construction absent a city tax subsidy that would be double that of which is currently granted to market rate developers. HR&A issued and presented the comprehensive analysis, which included feedback from community stakeholders and developers, to the Yonkers City Council before its vote in June.
“While I support enhancing our affordable housing stock, the ordinance passed by the council fails to address the fiscal concerns raised by the report, such as what means are available to increase public subsidies necessitated by the AHO,” Mayor Spano stated in his veto message. “The council also presented no alternative analysis or narrative that disagreed with HR&A’s findings, nor did they prepare an analysis regarding the potential effects on the city if it was to significantly increase the tax subsidy to developers.”
Mayor Spano added, “Ultimately, my decision to veto this amendment is because the council’s proposal will either shut down our market rate residential construction entirely, or else cost the local property taxpayers millions annually in additional subsidies.”
The veto message also cited the Yonkers Planning Board’s opposition to the amended AHO. The Planning Board stated that the council neglected to address the detailed comments issued by the board and failed to send the amended version back the board for review.
The city also received several amendment opposition letters and statements from The Business Council of Westchester, the Westchester County Association and affordable housing developer Westhab.
Mayor Spano said, “Yonkers represents 20% of Westchester County’s population, yet we already house over 40% of its subsidized housing stock. I agree we need to revisit our AHO, but we need to be smart about our next steps.
He said that he would be submitting a revised plan to the council that would propose “the best affordable housing ordinance in Westchester and addresses the needs of our community, while still allowing for investors to continue building in Yonkers.”
In 2013, Mayor Spano and the Yonkers City Council passed the city’ first-ever Affordable Housing Ordinance, ordering 10% of housing units in newly constructed large developments (100 units or more) to be made available to families earning between 40%-100% of Westchester County’s Area Median Income (AMI). In medium-sized developments (between 75 and 99 units), two units are set aside and in small developments (between 21 and 74 units), one unit is set aside. The law does not apply to developments with 20 units or less.