FROM THE DESK OF WILLIAM C. THOMPSON, Jr.
July 23, 2012
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn
250 Broadway, Suite 1856
New York, New York 10007
Dear City Council Speaker Quinn:
As a longtime advocate of minority and women owned businesses and a vocal proponent of
fair business practice, I adamantly support fair wages and efforts to end fraudulent
accounting practices in the affordable housing industry. As Comptroller, I aggressively
enforced prevailing wage laws working to level the playing field and fought for working men
and women. I invested millions in affordable housing so that New Yorkers would not be
squeezed out of their homes and neighborhoods.
A bill currently under consideration by the City Council, Intro 730, poses a hazard to the
success of small business that far outweighs its proposed benefits. The bill threatens to
undermine minority, women-owned, and other locally-based enterprises (MWBEs) by
placing an unnecessary administrative burden on their operations, limiting their ability to
compete in the affordable housing industry.
Intro 730 requires developers to obtain quarterly wage and withholding information from
every employee of every contractor, subcontractor, and vendor on an affordable housing
project. Most employees work only part-time on affordable housing development, working
the remainder on market rate or commercial projects. The wage rate reporting mandated by
Intro 730 will therefore indicate nothing about wage rates in affordable housing. Rather, it
will only overwhelm small businesses with a requirement to collect thousands of wage
Furthermore, contractors and subcontractors who are late on one quarterly report are placed
on a disqualified list for participating on affordable housing projects. Intro 730 will knock out
businesses that do not have the administrative staff to comply with a reporting mandate that
ultimately serves no purpose. Recent amendments to the bill now exclude the largest
market rate developers, those receiving 421-Atax abatements, from these excessive
reporting requirements, cementing the greatest burden on smaller businesses, including
A coalition of MWBE developers, contractors, and vendors as well as affordable housing
industry advocates, have proposed amendments to Intro 730 that will shift its focus back on
preventing bad actors from participating in the industry. These include increasing
enforcement through the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) and the New York City
Department of Investigation (DOI); implementing random wage surveys through the DOL to
identify wage rates for a representative sample of affordable housing projects; and
developing a plan to prevent bad actors from participating in affordable housing projects
while streamlining the process for honest employers.
Intro 730 falls far short of meeting its goals, levees extensive burdens on small businesses
and MWBEs, and disrupts competition within the affordable housing industry at a time when
New York City’s focus should be on creating ways to level the playing field for new
businesses. I implore you to reexamine this bill to ensure it meets the intent of ensuring
transparency, rather than damaging the affordable housing sector and those small
businesses and MWBE firms that rely on the industry for their livelihood.
Thank you for your consideration.