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REBNY’s Affordable Housing Double-Speak

Last week GVSHP released a report entitled “Check the Facts and Consider the Source: Campaign CA$H and REBNY’s Real Record on Affordable Housing.”

REBNY report

The report looks at the Real Estate Board of New York’s real record when it comes to impacting affordable housing and affordable housing policies here in New York.  We thought this would be interesting given REBNY’s sudden professed interest in affordable housing, and its claims that landmarking and other preservation measures negatively impact our city’s affordability. The facts are illuminating.

Nearly every affordable housing advocate says that the number one impediment to improving the state of affordable housing in New York City is the New York State Senate, whose Republican Majority (or briefly, Republican/Independent Democratic Conference Majority) consistently refuses to allow votes on or blocks passage of measures which would protect or expand affordable housing.

REBNY press conf w.MHA and CB
GVSHP was joined by community leaders and preservation advocates Michael Henry Adams (l.) from Central Harlem and Claudette Brady from Bedford Stuyvesant at a press conference in front of the REBNY headquarters in late 2013 refuting the group’s claim that preservation undermined affordability and diversity in New York City.

REBNY has been a key force in financially supporting and maintaining that Republican majority in the State Senate.  From the report:

Over the decade from October 2004 through October 2014, The Real Estate Board PAC was the #2 interest-group donor to the New York Republican State Committee, second only to the landlords’ Rent Stabilization PAC.

Here’s another salient fact about REBNY from the report:

Despite being a New York City organization, nearly three-quarters of REBNY contributions to candidates went to districts outside of New York City during 2011-2013.

Of course the State Senate majority is populated almost entirely by non-New York City members.

GVSHP was joined by affordable housing advocates from across the City and State at a press conference in front of REBNY’s midtown headquarters in late 2013 countering the group’s claim that preservation measures, rather than REBNY itself, was the main impediment to progress on affordable housing in New York City.

And finally, lest you think REBNY’s anti-affordable housing political agenda has trailed off in recent years as they have tried to use this issue to their advantage:

REBNY’s “Jobs for New York” PAC entered the State Senate campaigns for the first time in 2014, and worked almost entirely to ensure complete Republican control of the body.

These are all particularly relevant as policymakers in city government and some in the media seem increasingly persuaded by REBNY’s arguments that we need to loosen or undo preservation measures in order to address our city’s affordability challenges.

You can read the entire report here.

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