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NY Senate Passes Bill Making Mitchell-Lama Housing More Accessible

On Tuesday, Senator Daniel Squadron announced that the NY State Senate passed his legislation to make the Mitchell-Lama Housing Program more accessible to middle class families. The Assembly passed the legislation earlier this month; it will now be sent to the Governor.

Current law stipulates that families with two or more dependents — whose joint annual net income exceeds 100% but is below 125% of average median income (AMI) — are eligible for Mitchell-Lama housing if they pay a rental surcharge. But by making this allowance available only to families with dependents, many families are excluded simply because they don’t have children.

The legislation sponsored by Squadron and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and co-sponsored by Assemblymember Joan Millman (S226/A5438) eliminates this requirement, making Mitchell-Lama housing developments accessible to a greater number of families regardless of whether they have dependents — allowing families with a broader range of income levels and family compositions than are currently eligible to become part of the Mitchell-Lama community.

“Middle class families need access to affordable housing. That’s precisely why the Mitchell-Lama program was created,” said Senator Squadron. “This bill would give more middle income families the chance to make a life here, by making affordable housing more accessible. Thank you to my Senate colleagues for moving this important bill forward, and to Speaker Silver and Assemblymember Millman for their leadership on this issue in Albany and in our community.”

“For nearly 60 years Mitchell-Lama housing has provided individuals and families with the stability needed to build strong and prosperous communities. This legislation advances our commitment to affordable housing and makes the program more accessible to a greater number of New Yorkers,” said Speaker Sheldon Silver.

“I welcome the State Senate’s passage of this important housing legislation, and would like to thank my colleague Senator Squadron for his leadership on this issue.  The cost of housing has risen drastically in New York City. There is a severe shortage of affordable housing and by expanding the eligibility for these Mitchell-Lama apartments we are making housing more accessible for more of our citizens,” said Assemblywoman Joan L. Millman.

“On November 15, 2010 sixty-four Board Members representing twenty-three Mitchell-Lama properties from around the city met with Senator Squadron to discuss the need to increase the maximum income eligibility levels. Today’s passing of the Squadron Mitchell-Lama bill was the result of that meeting. This has been a long but very fulfilling road especially to see this bill passed in a bipartisan fashion. As a Mitchell-Lama resident for over 25 years I can tell you that the program originally intended for middle-income New Yorkers, teachers, nurses, city workers, over time fell far from its original goal because the program does not make allowances for inflation or cost of living increases as it pertains to income eligibility. The Squadron bill is the readjustment the program needed. It also achieves this goal at no cost to New York City or New York State,” said Mitchell-Lama resident Toba Potosky, who lives in Brooklyn.

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