Housing Plan Fuels Lopez Election Bid

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Brooklynite Vito Lopez tells City Limits he is leaning toward a run for Congress this fall. And to kick things off, the head of the state Assembly’s housing committee has unveiled an ambitious plan to increase the state’s spending on housing from $115.6 million to $297.6 million.

Full acceptance of the $182 million package isn’t likely from either Governor George Pataki or Lopez ally Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Still, Democratic party sources say Silver will probably bargain for some of its elements during budget talks later this year.

The list includes plans to:

  • boost the state Low Income Housing Trust Fund from $25 to $60 million
  • double the state’s contribution to homeless housing from $30 million to $60 million
  • create a state version of the federal low-income housing tax credit program, which gives tax breaks for developers who build rental housing for the indigent and working poor
  • inaugurate a $25 million anti-abandonment program to preserve apartment buildings in disrepair. Much of that money would go to local groups for housing organizing
  • increase funding for the Affordable Home Ownership program from $25 million to $60 million.

“I believe Shelly [Silver] will support a good portion of this,” Lopez says. “If we don’t get it this year, we’re never going to get it.” Silver’s office did not respond to inquiries about the plan.

Lopez told City Limits he is seriously considering a 1998 challenge of Brooklyn Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. “There’s a good chance. I’ll decide by the end of this month,” he says.

“It is our practice not to comment on candidates who just say they might run,” says Velazquez spokesman Eric Brown.