A key demand in our fight for community benefits at the School 19 development site has been met.
This past April we packed the Mayors reception room during an IDA hearing in advance of a vote that would approve $1.6 million in tax breaks to School 19 developer Alma Realty who won the rights to develop the site, but failed to break ground after almost 4 years. We demanded that the tax breaks be denied unless Alma was willing to negotiate community benefits. The primary demand was for the project to include the 10% affordable housing in line with our city's 'Affordable Housing Ordinance' which passed shortly after the School 19 project was approved, leaving the developer exempt. Alma didn't come to the table, and the tax breaks were not approved.
Last week, the Journal News reported that in a deal struck between the developer and the city, Alma will now be required to reserve 10% of the units in the new development for affordable housing, bringing it in line with the city's housing ordinance, and our demands. Although we view this as clear victory for our community, we also give credit to the administration for using their leverage to secure the benefits that we advocated for.
Click to watch FIOS news report of our rally at IDA hearing on School 19 Tax Breaks.
Other parts of our vision are beginning to be adopted the City.
In our last e-mail blast we introduced our #PowerYonkers campaign and mentioned a series of policy reforms stemming from our neighborhood plan that we want to see the city implement going into the new year related to community benefits for city subsidized development projects. Aside from strengthening the city's current Affordable Housing Ordinance, our main focus is on policy that would promote local community members being hired on construction sites at prevailing wages. We envisioned this being accomplished through modifying IDA rules to set project labor requirements in exchange for being considered for subsidies, as well as by allocating resources for community members to be trained in the building trades.
According to the Journal news, "City officials adopted labor union rules Tuesday for developers who are getting tax breaks for their projects. The Yonkers Industrial Development Agency adopted two resolutions to fund a labor apprenticeship program and to establish a policy requiring union project labor agreements for certain developments receiving financial assistance from it... The apprenticeship program will be jointly run with the Building and Construction Trades Council (Who CGDC has partnered with in the past), which represents 30 trade unions in and around Yonkers. Under the agreement, the IDA will contribute up to $250,000 to train certain Yonkers residents ages 18 to 24 who are referred by unions."
We see these recent developments as positive steps towards seeing our vision for community economic development come to fruition. In 2018 we will continue to build our coalition of community support to drive the rest of our policy agenda forward towards adoption.