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Rent increases at Waterside Plaza limited with City Council approval

Tenant group says affordable housing agreement will provide "lasting" security.

The City Council approved a new agreement limiting

The City Council approved a new agreement limiting rent increases at Waterside Plaza. Photo Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Despite calls from the Waterside Plaza community to provide more assurances for its future retirees, the City Council approved a plan Thursday to usher in a new affordable housing agreement at the Murray Hill development. 

Lawmakers unanimously voted to extend the owners' ground lease with the government from 2069 to 2118, which ushers in new rules for 325 of Waterside Plaza's roughly 1,400 apartments.

Families with incomes of at least 165 percent of the metro area's median income (AMI), currently $154,935 a year for a family of three, would not see their rent increase more than 4.25 percent a year. Those with incomes below that threshold will be eligible for a rent freeze — or if they are currently paying more than 30 percent of their income in rent, will not be asked to pay more than that portion, under the plan.

"This is a meaningful deal to the hundreds of families that have and will continue to call Waterside Plaza their home,” the area's City Council representative, Keith Powers, said in a statement. 

The development was built in the 70s and was part of the Mitchell-Lama program until 2001. Tenants who moved in during the Mitchell-Lama period were then covered under a second agreement, which capped annual rent increases.

The city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development will work with tenants throughout the rest of 2019 to calculate their rents based on their incomes. The tenant association previously raised concerns that residents who retired after 2019 may be locked into leases they cannot afford when they stop working and their incomes decline.

However, Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Association, released a statement after Thursday's vote thanking the city for negotiating the new deal.

"NYC’s HPD engaged with our community, while shaping a 75-year affordability deal, to learn the needs of our seniors and craft an innovative plan that provides for lasting housing security," Handal's statement said. 

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