Brooklyn’s Mitchell-Lama Task Force was established to advocate for the preservation of Mitchell-Lama housing across the borough. Borough President Adams joined Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, former chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings, in co-hosting the first City Council oversight hearing in seven years in April 2016 on Mitchell-Lama housing, a statewide program created in 1955 that supported the construction of 105,000 units of affordable housing — of which 18,000 are located in Brooklyn — for middle-income residents. Unlike public housing, where a government agency operates developments and is dependent on government funding, the Mitchell-Lama program is designed to encourage private developers to invest in housing developments that are subject to government regulations. In recent years, the program has been threatened by property owners converting units to market-rate and subsequently imposing dramatic rent increases; for example, between 2003 and 2009, the number of Mitchell-Lama complexes decreased from 135 to 97 because of privatization and buy-outs.
As part of his administration’s housing policy, Borough President Adams has made preserving the Mitchell-Lama program a signature component of his affordable housing agenda. Through the Brooklyn Mitchell-Lama Task Force, which comprises community leaders living in developments across the borough, he worked to persuade the State Legislature and the City Council to protect at-risk units from privatization. In his testimony to the City Council, he outlined a series of recommendations to support the at-risk housing stock, including regular oversight hearings to hold the New York City Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) accountable, comprehensive management training and education from HPD for development board members, as well as increased low-cost financing from both York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) for capital improvements to developments; additionally, he urged the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) to establish its own low-cost financing program for Mitchell-Lama housing.
Fiscal Year 2018 budgetary funding from Borough President Adams enabled the preservation of more than 3,100 units in existing Mitchell-Lama and NYCHA developments including renovations and repairs, including $325,000 for repairing exterior facades and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) bathroom upgrades at the 238-unit Crown Gardens in Crown Heights; $750,000 for renovating ADA bathrooms, ceilings, stairwells, and walkways at the 304-unit Atlantic Terminal II in Fort Greene; and $131,000 for replacing rises and valves at the 894-unit Kings Bay Houses in Sheepshead Bay. He also invested in the preservation of NYCHA’s Brevoort Houses, comprising 896 units in Bedford-Stuyvesant, through an allocated $500,000 for repairs and security cameras, and Howard Houses, comprising 815 units in Brownsville, through $200,000 for security cameras.