Policy Brief | Jun. 2012 |View the Press Release

Upgrading Private Property At Public Expense: The Rising Cost of J-51

Thomas J. Waters, Victor Bach

Summary: This policy brief reviews the city’s J-51 program, which offers developers and landlords property tax exemptions and abatement benefits to renovate residential buildings. With $256.6 million in tax expenditures in 2011, J-51 is one of the city’s most expensive housing programs. Between 2001 and 2011, the J-51 the program grew in cost by nearly 50 percent (18 percent after inflation), while the number of apartments improved under the program increased by only seven percent. This policy brief, which was undertaken to measure J-51’s worth as a catalyst for stimulating improvements to city apartments, argues for either drastically altering or replacing J-51 with a far more targeted incentive that focuses improvements on units that benefit low-income tenants.

Issues: Affordable Housing

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