Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte and Colleagues Advocate to Include Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) in 421-a Tax Exemption Development Projects

New York State – On Friday, December 4th, Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte and colleagues from both the State Legislature delivered a letter to John Banks, President of the Real Estate Board of New York, Gary Labarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades of Greater New York, and members of the Negotiating Team who are currently in deliberations around the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the 421-a Property Tax Exemption (Tax Abatement) Program.

The 421-a Property Tax Exemption (Tax Abatement) Program encourages the new construction of affordable housing in New York City. At the end of the last legislative session, the proposed enhanced program that includes more affordable housing was extended for four years, under the condition that a prevailing wage requirement for construction workers be negotiated within six months. The agreement reached at the end of the session was that if no understanding between developers and laborers could be reached within the six-month period, which is this month, the program will be suspended until an agreement is reached.

As part of that discussion, Assemblymember Bichotte and her colleagues called for a 30% MWBE participation goal to be included in the final MOU.

"What we are requesting is nothing new," said Assemblymember Bichotte. "We are simply emphasizing the necessity to leverage opportunities that the City and State have to address and remedy socio-economic disparities and underscore what Governor Cuomo has already been calling for, which is to ensure that MWBEs are fully represented throughout the State. The last State MWBE disparity study conducted in 2010 showed that MWBEs were woefully underrepresented and by including MWBEs in 421-a tax exempted development projects, we have another opportunity to improve upon that."

As much as there has been continuous lip service given to the idea of income equality, the reality just does not reflect that. The unemployment rate of Blacks remains at 12%, more than twice the rate of Whites, and the median income of African American households in New York is half that of White New Yorkers. Additionally, all women across racial lines continue to earn less money on every dollar than men. When looking at the demographics of New York City alone, the minority population accounts for 63% of the population, and its female population accounts for 53%. Yet, if you look at the results from the 2015 Making the Grade report published by NYC Comptroller, Scott Stringer, only 5.3% of firms were utilized. Mayor de Blasio's administration has been working with city and state legislators to implement programs to close the economic gap that became progressively wider over the past 20 years in previous administrations.

Other members of the Assembly and Senate who signed on to the letter are: Assemblymember Keith Wright - Chair of Housing, Assemblymember N. Nick Perry - Chair of Black, Latino & Asian Caucus, Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz, Assemblymember Charles Barron, Assemblymember Michael Blake, Assemblymember Barbara Clark, Senator Leroy Comrie, Assemblymember Vivian Cook, Assemblymember Dick Gottfiried, Senator Jesse Hamilton, Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee, Assemblymember Kimberly Jean-Pierre, Assemblymember Latoya Joyner, Assemblymember Peter Lopez, Assemblymember Walter Mosley, Assemblymember Gary Pretlow, Assemblymember Diana Richardson, Assemblymember Annette Robinson, Senator James Sanders, Jr., Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright, Assemblymember James Skoufis, and Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, Assemblymember Latrice Walker.

A copy of the letter was also shared with Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte represents the 42nd Assembly District in the New York State Assembly representing Brooklyn communities of Ditmas Park, Flatbush, East Flatbush and Midwood. She is currently the Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs), and serves on the following committees: Housing, Government Operations, Economic Development, Small Businesses, Banks and Social Services. She is also the Vice Chair of the NYS Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators.

As the current Assemblymember and District Leader, Rodneyse Bichotte has been outspoken advocate on issues concerning immigration, unemployment, education reform, health care access, senior citizen centers, affordable housing, women's and LGBTQ rights, as well as other issues affecting the quality of life in the community.