New law broadens eligibility for tenants of Mitchell-Lamas

BY SAM SPOKONY  |  A newly adopted change to the Mitchell-Lama housing program will allow a wider range of middle-income families to enter the program.

On Nov. 14 Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that makes it easier for a family with fewer than two dependents to qualify for a Mitchell-Lama unit. The law went into effect immediately.

Now, any household that brings in more than 100 percent but less than 125 percent of the area median income will be eligible for the state-subsidized housing, even if they don’t have children.

Families within that income range will still have to pay a rental surcharge in order to get a Mitchell-Lama unit.

The legislation was sponsored by state Senator Daniel Squadron and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

“Thanks to our legislation, more families will have the chance to make a life here, no matter what their family looks like,” said Squadron, in a statement released on the day his bill was signed into law.

“With the cost of housing steadily rising and income levels remaining stagnant, it is more important than ever to make affordable housing more accessible to a greater number of families,” said Silver, in a statement released that same day.

New York City’s area median income for 2013 — as determined by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development — is $60,200 for an individual, $68,800 for a family of two, $77,400 for a family of three and $85,900 for a family of four.

And 125 percent of that area median income is $75,250 for an individual, $86,000 for a family of two, $96,750 for a family of three and $107,375 for a family of four.

Victor Papa, president of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and also a resident of Southbridge Towers (a Mitchell-Lama development), praised the newly approved expansion.

“Anything that broadens eligibility and improves the Mitchell-Lama program is always welcome,” said Papa in a phone interview last week. “It’s noteworthy that Squadron and Silver sponsored this, and hopefully they’ll continue to be active in supporting legislation that will save Mitchell-Lama in a city that sorely needs it.”

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