October 20, 2015
By Kim Slowey http://www.constructiondive.com
New York, NY – New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James have announced a $150 million investment in a $1 billion AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) plan to create or preserve up to 20,000 below-market apartments through a union labor partnership — in direct contradiction of Mayor Bill de Blasio's stance that union wages aren't cost effective on large, affordable housing projects, the Observer reported.
HIT's seven-year plan is to renovate and improve between 12,500 and 15,000 apartments in subsidized housing buildings and construct between 5,000 and 7,000 new apartments with nonprofit partners.The city investment, supported by de Blasio critic and Building and Construction Trades Council President Gary LaBarbera, will create 7,300 union construction jobs.Dive Insight:De Blasio has been at odds with LaBarbera over the union wage issue ever since LaBarbera started lobbying the state to make union wages a condition of developers receiving the popular 421a tax credit.The mayor has estimated that paying union wages on his affordable housing project would mean losing up to 17,000 below-market-rate apartments overall.
Stringer, also a critic of de Blasio, told the Observer that he believes there can be more than one model for affordable housing and that union wages and below-market housing are not incompatible."You can build affordable, and you can build union, and we’ve been doing it for a long time," said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. "The announcement we're making today clearly shows you can build affordable housing, and you can do it by creating union jobs as well."