WPCNR COMMON COUNCIL CHRONICLE EXAMINER. From the City of White Plains May 8, 2019 UPDATED WITH 2019 INCOME ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS AND 2019 AFFORDABLE HOUSING RENTS FROM CITY WEBSITE, MAY 9
UPDATED MAY 11, 2019 WITH DEMONSTRATION OF A DEVELOPER BUYOUT (RED BLOCK IN STORY) OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING OBLIGATION. :
The White Plains Common Council passed significant changes to the city’s Affordable Rental Housing Program at their May meeting Monday evening. The changes had originally been proposed in February by Mayor Roach and represent a focused effort and commitment by the Mayor and Common Council to increase the overall number of affordable housing units in the city. With these changes the City of White Plains Affordable Rental Housing Program will become one of the most progressive in the region.
The City of White Plains has shown a strong commitment to affordable housing. Its program, which has been in place since 2003, requires multi-family developments to provide a 10% set-aside of affordable units reserved for those at 80% of the Westchester County Area Median Income (AMI) range. Alternatively, a developer could seek Common Council approval to provide 6% affordable units at the lower 60% AMI range. AMI is determined annually by HUD.
“While this program has certainly been successful in creating affordable rental housing units in the city, we recognize that maintaining White Plains as an affordable place to live for people of all income levels strengthens our city. It also requires our consistent attention to ensure that our program is meeting the housing needs of our residents,” said Mayor Tom Roach.
Council Member Nadine Hunt-Robinson said, ‘We are always looking for ways to improve our City, and the expansion of our affordable housing program ensures that White Plains remains accessible to people of varied income levels. This is vital to maintaining the diversity that makes our City a great place to live, work and play. In addition, after championing an increase to SCRIE/DRIE protections a few years ago, I am pleased that we are now raising the income eligibility limit further to the state maximum.”
The legislation passed on May 6th expands the City’s Affordable Rental Housing Program (ARHP) in several ways. First, it would make the program applicable citywide in areas where multi-family housing with 10 or more units is permitted by the Zoning Code. Currently, the program applies primarily in the downtown area.
Second, the proposal expands eligibility for the program to those whose incomes are 50% of AMI. The City’s current Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice reveals that there are few housing options for those in this income range. Subsidized housing exists for those whose income is below the 50% AMI threshold, and the ARHP is available to those whose income is above this threshold. This change would close an important identified gap in the current program.
Third, the proposal would increase affordable set aside amounts to 12% of units at 80% AMI and to 8% at 50% and 60% AMI. Developers would have the discretion to select either the 8% or 12% option.
Fourth, the proposal would establish a buy-out of up to 25 of the required affordable rental units as an option for developers.
The funds generated from the buy-out option would go into the city’s existing Affordable Housing Assistance Fund (AHAF) and would be used to create a range of housing assistance programs and more affordable units.
For example, the funds could be used for down payment assistance, land acquisition or project construction expenses for the development or rehabilitation of affordable housing, to defray a portion of the city’s administrative costs associated with management of the program, and other actions taken for the furtherance of increasing affordable housing city-wide.
White Plains Affordable Rental Housing Program:
The City of White Plains Affordable Rental Housing Program (ARHP) provides over 150 apartments in eleven buildings located at various sites throughout downtown White Plains. The purpose of the ARHP is to ensure that the City remains an economically diverse community by filling the need for quality housing that is affordable to moderate income households. To achieve that goal, the ARHP requires developers to rent a portion of the apartments in their buildings to tenants whose annual income is between 60% and 100% of the Area Median Income in Westchester County.
Karen Pasquale, Senior Advisor to the Mayor wrote WPCNR supply this supplemental information below:
“See this link to the Affordable Housing page (under Planning Dept) on city website: https://www.cityofwhiteplains.com/719/Affordable-Rental-Housing-Program. It gives the 2019 income eligibility requirements and allowable rents (studio thru 3 BR). These numbers are established annually by HUD and are based on a number of factors specific to our area.
The ARHP is open to everyone who meets the income requirements. There is no residency requirement for participation.”
2019 Income Eligibility Requirements
|1 Person||2 Pple||3 People||4 People|
|Minimum Household Income||$50,550||$57,750||$65,000||$72,200|
|Maximum Household Income||$84,200||$96,250||$108,300||$120,300|
The rent for ARHP apartments is generally lower than rent charged for market rate apartments, but this is not a low-income housing program. Rents for the ARHP apartments are established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and are set at three different rates, based on income ranges as follows:
2019 HUD Rents
|Studio||1 Bedroom||2 Bedrooms||3 Bedrooms|
A separate proposal also aimed at increasing affordability will be introduced at an upcoming Council meeting.
This legislation will propose increasing the annual income eligibility limits under the Senior Citizen Rental Income Exemption (SCRIE) program and authorizing the city to participate in the Disabled Rental Income Exemption (DRIE) program.
The city has participated in SCRIE for many years. Several years ago the city increased the income eligibility limit under SCRIE to its current $30,000 level.
In an effort to encourage more participation in these programs, the proposal would increase the income eligibility limits to the current state maximum of $50,000/year.
These programs apply to those who live in Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA) buildings, of which there are many in the city. Tenants in ETPA buildings who are participating in the SCRIE or DRIE programs are protected from rent increases and building owners receive a tax credit for their participation in the program.