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CITYLIMITS Opinion: Bringing Affordable Housing to NY’s Market More Quickly, and Less Expensively

By Michael Lappin.

Published April 6, 2023


A detriment to building sufficient affordable housing is the long and laborious path projects must go through to reach completion. Projects built via the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), a major source of affordable housing, have multiple sources of financing and long and complicated processing requirements. In New York City, from the time an application is accepted to a construction start, two to three years can elapse.

Add to that the building out of a project, followed by complicated rent up protocols, and the total process, from start to being fully leased and operational, can take six years or more. If a project requires rezoning and/or sites transferred from public to private ownership, the time period may be even longer, with no guarantee of success. Both Gov. Kathy Hochul’s housing initiative and Mayor Eric Adam’s  BLAST plan are designed to improve the latter processes.

Pricing for projects over such long periods is fraught with uncertainty, leading to highly conservative cost estimating. This reverberates throughout the affordable housing industry characterized by ever higher development costs. Thus, the call for more public subsidies to off-set those higher costs, while production still falls behind the need. The result: too much subsidy going to too few projects.

Contrast this with the speed of gentrification in many low and moderate-income communities. A small army of builders and developers looking for the next “hot” neighborhood buy and build market rate housing in residentially-zoned areas, often outpacing affordable housing production. Projects are done “as of right” with the only subsidy, if used at all, the now expired 421-a real estate tax benefit program. Projects typically take two to three years to completion.

A Proper Perspective on the Community Preservation Corporation’s History

In the Real Deal’s February 1,  2022  interview – “The Closing” — with my successor at the Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), a link was made to an ill-informed 2012 New York Times article critical of CPC, but failed to note my response to it as found in the Times online edition, and further elaborated in my article in Crain’s. The condo loans mentioned in the interview were originated as part of an ongoing effort to create workforce housing at a time of severe shortages of moderately priced housing. They, like every investment including Parkchester and the purchase of the Domino Sugar site, were approved by CPC’s board and its investment committees.  The board and investment committees were composed of representatives from CPC’s then sponsoring banks and insurance companies.

Like many developments that started construction during the pre-2008 period, several condo construction loans fell prey to the recession. It was the first serious defaults that the company experienced since its founding in 1974. The finger pointing and gratuitous questioning of motives which ensued, obscured the incredible record CPC had amassed during its then 37-year history, 31 years of which I served as CEO. That record provided the financial ballast to absorb the losses CPC experienced, about $60 million, and get through that difficult recessionary period.

More recently, CPC’s sale of its one-third interest in Parkchester, a legacy project involving the seven-year (1998-2005) restoration of the 12,271-unit housing complex, netted a profit of over $150 million. This infusion of capital provides a spring board for the company to expand its efforts both in NYC – where much needs to be done –and in its upstate New York and regional lending areas.

Let’s provide a proper perspective on CPC’s history. From1974 through 2011, CPC worked with communities in the City and State of New York and some surrounding areas to meet their varied affordable housing needs. During that period, over $7 billion was invested to restore and build over 145,000 affordable homes, including over 93,000 in New York City. Like many financial institutions at that time, it got rocked by the recession. However, CPC’s accumulated resources provided a solid foundation for the company to recover and carry its mission forward.

Michael Lappin, former CEO of The Community Preservation Corporation (1980-2011), and currently head of M. Lappin & Associates, a provider of advisory services for affordable housing.

From City Limits: Opinion: A Slow But Accelerating Crisis—Preserving Affordable Housing for Up to 1.4 Million NYers

Lost in New York City’s tempestuous legislative battles over rent regulation is the fact that the largest number of low- and moderate-income residents in the city live in privately owned rent-regulated housing. This often leads to a blind spot in city housing policy.

According to the last New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey (HVS) published in 2017 (the 2020 HVS was delayed and will be available later this year), an estimated 1.4 million low- and moderate-income New Yorkers live in privately owned, rent-regulated housing. These tenants—retirees, service workers, new immigrants—live in households earning up to 80 percent of the area median income. (MORE)

From City Limits: Opinion: Use NYC’s Public Pension Funds to Supercharge Affordable Housing Production and Preservation

From City Limits: Opinion: Use NYC’s Public Pension Funds to Supercharge Affordable Housing Production and Preservation ‘The next mayor and comptroller can speed New York City’s recovery by working with public employee pension funds to increase investment in affordable housing, as they have in response to previous economic distress.’


Filling in the Gaps

See original article here:

Prospect Gardens, Park Slope, Brooklyn. Photos courtesy Carmi Bee

Affordable housing—a perennial problem in New York City that has proven even more urgent with the COVID-19 emergency—raises tough questions: how do we define “affordable”? What form should it take? And frequently the most contentious of all—where should it be located? Last October, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to build 800 new units in the New York neighborhood of SoHo, a highly unusual move considering the wealth of the proposed location. Besides signaling an attempt at spreading affordable housing equitably across the city, it’s also a response to growing homelessness, which according to a study conducted by the city, rose by 7% from January 2019 to January 2020. The numbers have almost certainly grown since then, but as CityLab has reported, the COVID crisis has posed multiple obstacles to getting an accurate count of just how many people have lost their homes in the past year.

Continue reading Filling in the Gaps


We offer a range of services, including site selection, feasibility analysis, assembling financing and project management.  We specialize in finding debt and equity financing optimized for your residential development projects.  We also can help assemble the team of professionals needed to complete your projects efficiently and effectively.  Your team may include architects, engineers, attorneys, general contractors and property managers.

We have long experience with various Federal, State and City public programs offering subsidies, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and real estate tax abatements, as well as the agencies that administer them.  We can assist in the negotiations and processing involved with financing through governmental agencies.

Long-Term Ownership by Non-Profits

  1. Long-Term Ownership by Non-Profits

For some non-profits, long-term ownership is ideal.  It can allow the non-profit to maximize the financial benefits and maintain control of property it owns. Here are some of the key questions to consider before assessing a development project and the option of long-term ownership: What are the non-profit’s goals for development of an under-utilized property?

  • Raise capital for missions, essential capital improvements, and/or ongoing operations?
  • Create affordable housing as a mission?
  • Upgrade space for current programs or create new space for future services?

Key factors to consider before undertaking a development project:

  1. What can be built on the site under current zoning?
  2. What population does the non-profit wish to serve?
  3. Which public subsidy programs, if any, are most feasible for the project and which are consistent with the non-profit’s goals for the development?
  4. Does the non-profit prefer to sell, lease or continue to own the property?

What are the benefits of developing rental housing with a developer-partner, through a site development agreement (the “turnkey”  model)?

  • Model can create units with affordable rents
  • Potential for maximizing financial benefits for the non-profit
  • Potential for minimizing the financial risk to the non-profit through a “Site Development Agreement”

What does ownership of the project mean for the non-profit?

  • Non-profit contributes land and receives payment for the land
  • Non-profit receives share of cash flow over 15 years and all cash flow thereafter

What is the Site developer’s role in the development process?

  • Assembles an experienced development team
  • Oversees design and construction
  • Obtains financing commitments (debt and equity)
  • Provides pre-construction funds and guarantees for the financing, as needed
  • Provides for professional, long-term management and operation of the property
  • Retains minority interest in general partnership, if required by lender or investor
  • Receives share of developer fee

We can assist you in assessing the options for your non-profit.

Michael D. Lappin, Founding Member

Michael D. LappinPast CEO and President of The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC) and CPC Resources Inc.  (1980 – 2011)

Led CPC to become a national leader in. the development and financing of affordable housing. During his tenure at CPC, over 140,000 affordable homes were financed and developed representing investments of almost $8 billion. CPC sourced new funds for affordable housing, most notably pioneering a major investment program  with the New York City and New York State public employee pension funds. CPC was a important advocate for many legislative initiatives at the Federal, State and City. Mr. Lappin has served on the advisory board of Fannie Mae, was the first president of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York Advisory Committee for its Affordable Housing Program, and a founder and first president of the National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders. He has written and lectured on housing and community development.

CPCR’s development activities included the restoration of the 12,271-unit Parkchester housing complex in the Bronx; the entitlement of 2.8 million square feet for the 11 acre Domino site on Brooklyn’s waterfront for the development of a mixed- income, mixed-use community; and, the development of over 100 buildings, including 70 in-fill buildings, for low, moderate and middle income housing in New York City.


Deborah A. Widerkehr

Deborah A. Widerkehr

In her more than 25 years of affordable housing experience in both the public and private sectors, Debbie has lead the development of more than 1100 housing units and the financing of thousands more.  Her work has included mixed-use projects, senior housing, home ownership, and the rehabilitation of distressed assets, involving virtually every stripe of public and private financing. Debbie’s career has included senior positions with CPC Resources, Inc. and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.  She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College and an MBA from Columbia University.

Christopher Garlin

Mr. Garlin is the Managing Member/Owner of RCG Development Group, LLC (RCG). RCG is a MBE-Certified real estate development firm specializing in residential and mixed-use development in Cities that have a growing demand for affordable housing. Its mission is to contribute to the transformation of Cities by developing projects that embody the three main pillars of sustainability: Environmental, Social and Economic. RCG’s most recent project involved the adaptive-reuse development of a three building, $12 million, 46 Unit affordable housing project for older adults located in the downtown section of Jersey City, NJ.

Mr. Garlin is the former Director of the Domus Corporation a non-profit housing development corporation located in Northern, NJ. As the company’s first Director, he developed 400+ units of family, senior and special needs housing, including over 100 units in Jersey City, while establishing the company’s reputation as one of the more productive non-profit housing developers in the State of New Jersey.

Andrew H. Wixom

Andrew Wixom has been actively involved as a developer and investor in the US and European real estate markets for over 25 years. In recent years he has managed investment and development in excess of $645mln. Andrew’s leadership experience includes private equity fund management, new and brownfield development and asset management. A major portion of his focus over the years has been in both the financing and development of multi-family and large urban regeneration projects with an emphasis on sustainability.

Andrew received his undergraduate degree at Haverford College and later earned his Masters’ Degree in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Design.


Brent Lippincott

The Real Estate Consultants, After Earning a Bachelors in International Business and Marketing from California Polytechnic University in 2005.  Brent became enamored with real estate and dove right into the investing market, by investing and developing both long term rentals and short term real estate (Flips). Brent combined his business education and real estate knowledge to create The Real Estate Consultants to help buyers and sellers list and sell residential and commercial properties.  Brent understands the ins and outs of the residential and commercial market, he continues to provide his clients with his extensive Real Estate knowledge as well as the highest degree of customer satisfaction offering real estate services for today’s ever-changing market.

John Trauth

John Trauth is based in San Francisco and has spent his career in the affordable housing industry in various capacities.    Early in his career, he served as the Director of Planning and Evaluation for HUD Region IX covering California and five other western states as well as Hawaii, Guam and the Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands.

On the development side, he has created 29 affordable housing development corporations, primarily in California, including BRIDGE Housing in San Francisco (now the 14th largest housing developer in the US) and the Southern California Housing Development Corporation, now known as National Community Reinvestment Corporation (National CORE).

On the financing side, he served as Executive Director of the Development Fund based in San Francisco.  In partnership with Mike Lappin and CPC, and support from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, John created 8 state-wide replicas of the CPC consortia-based affordable housing financing program in California, Hawaii, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, New Hampshire and Florida.[1]  These banking consortia have now funded many billions of dollars in new affordable multifamily projects.

[1] Florida operates under a regional banking system, so the two Florida consortia covered the Orlando and Tampa-St Petersburg areas.

CPC: Michael Lappin, Key Force in Creating Affordable Housing for More Than Three Decades, to Retire from CPC

After leading the company for 31 years, Michael Lappin will be retiring as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Community Preservation Corporation (CPC) to pursue other opportunities.  He has agreed to stay on in his current role and work with CPC’s Board in the selection process for a successor and to assure a smooth transition. Mr. Lappin will also continue to shepherd the New Domino project forward so it can fulfill its promised benefits for the community and the city…

Read at

The Infill Prototype: The Beginning of the Urban Version of Levittown

New York Times: Residential Real Estate; Park Slope Walk-Up Revival May Signal New Rental Era

The four-story walk-up is a form of housing not often produced in New York City any longer. But two new side-by-side walk-ups in Park Slope, Brooklyn, may lead the way to resurrecting it for rental housing designed for moderate-income tenants throughout the city…

Read at

Financing Energy Savings in Apartment Buildings Local Solutions to a Global Problem

Today’s low interest rates provide a window of opportunity for urban communities to take a bold step to increase the energy efficiency of their privately owned apartment buildings. Maturing 5- and 10-year mortgages can now be refinanced at interest rates that are 100 to 150 basis points lower, creating the potential for additional investments in these properties. Read Article



Paul Stern

Throughout the years my career has been multifaceted, from manufacturing and selling fashion merchandise, to operating a big box retail store as a Licensed Pharmacist, to owning and operating a clothing store and a restaurant. I began my career in real estate leasing walk-up apartments in the upper east side of Manhattan, then through personally investing and managing a portfolio of properties, and received my Real Estate Brokers License in the early 1980’s. I enjoy helping my fellow brokers understand their clients business and needs whether they are increasing the size of their business or downsizing. My business background of ownership and negotiations puts me in a unique position of being able to assist the start-up and the seasoned entrepreneur in leasing Office space, Retail space, and Buying Investment Property. I enjoy what I do every day, the industry never fails to fascinate me.