Leonard Grunstein has released a plan to resolve New York’s affordable housing crisis. Recently published in the spring 2014 edition of the Real Estate Finance Journal, the plan proposes a new mixed-income, mixed-use model of affordable housing that enables the free-market to fund the development.
The proposed plan would let the market play a larger role in New York’s housing policy, urging reforms to lower the cost of land in order to attract free-market financing and equity through the capital markets. This would enable development of unused city land and encourage developers to lease the ground where new projects are built, generating rents from the luxury component of the mixed-use complex.
Grunstein also encourages using the additional funds from these rents for the creation of self-funded “sticky” rent vouchers that would empower struggling families by letting them rent an apartment. He believes the answer to low-income affordability is more income, not more structurally flawed low-income projects.
To put these ideas into action, Grunstein is urging the city to create an Affordable Housing Authority, which can resolve issues using a public-private partnership model.
Leonard Grunstein attended a reception earlier this spring honoring the new Bergen County graduates of Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (REITS). Grunstein and his wife Chanie have long been generous supporters of Yeshiva University, from which his three children, daughter-in-law and sons-in-law all graduated. In July 2013, Grunstein was named a board member of Yeshiva’s Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. The school has also praised Grunstein for his analysis of Jewish banking laws, which appeared in the Banking Law Journal in 2013.
The reception celebrated the seminary’s 50 new Bergen County graduates. This year’s REITS cohort, 230 graduates in total, is the largest graduating class in the school’s history. The reception in Teaneck preceded the REITS ceremony and featured Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, a professor at the school and renowned former chief rabbi of England.
Sacks, the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva, served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from September 1991 until September 2013. He is known as one of the most prolific and well-regarded Jewish thinkers in the world and has been called an “intellectual giant” by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. At the reception, Sacks elaborated on the role of the rabbi in the Jewish community, saying the training of new students is the most important thing one can do in the Jewish world.
Leonard Grunstein expressed his excitement at having Sacks speak at the ceremony, calling him “a brilliant man and speaker.”
Leonard Grunstein and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Lady Elaine Sacks and Chanie Grunstein at Bergen County graduate reception
Rav Benjamin Yudin, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Rav Herschel Schacter and his son, Rabbi Shai Schacter
Dean of REITS at YU, Rabbi Menachem Penner and Rabbi Ari Zahtz, assistant Rabbi at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck
Leonard Grunstein, Managing Member at Hanlen Real Estate Development & Funding, has published an op-ed piece in the Gotham Gazette, contributing his thoughts on the newly proposed affordable housing plan for New York City.
While Grunstein believes the plan to be a very detailed and progressive means of solving the city’s housing problems, he also suggests a more cost-effective solution – the current plan costing an estimated $41 billion with $8 billion coming from city funds.
Grunstein’s suggestions are outlined in a five-point plan, meant to solve a growing housing crisis and save New York City money in the process. The first two steps proposed in the plan involve the creation of a partnership between the public and private spheres to provide for low-income and mixed-income housing, and taking full advantage of profitable tracts of land in the NYC area – enabling development to reduce the land’s overall costs.
A third point would require developers to lease the ground on which new projects are built, generating ground rents through the luxury component of development. Funding generating by these ground-leases could then be used to assist struggling households, providing them with a transferable voucher to be used for apartment rental. Finally, the plan calls for the creation of an independent affordable housing authority with the power to solve city housing woes using a public-private model.
Success has been had in smaller segments of the city, where agencies of the proposed nature have repaired struggling neighborhoods. With the proper resources in place, this proven plan can bring aid to New York City as a whole.
Leonard Grunstein’s full article can be found at gothamgazette.com.
This Sunday, nearly a million Israel supporters turned out on 5th Avenue for the 50th annual Celebrate Israel parade. Of the dozens of floats in the parade, one commemorated the Hebron Fund, an organization paying tribute to the Jewish community in Hebron. The town is home to the 2nd holiest site in Judaism, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. Nearly 1,000 Jews live in the town and protect the site, which receives more than 700,000 visitors annually.
The Hebron Fund provides support to this community, including funding for all parks, playgrounds, recreation centers, after-school programs, libraries, and summer youth activities. The group also sponsors public cultural and educational events in Hebron.
Their float at the Celebrate Israel parade included a replica of the famous Hebron Cave and background on the Fund to encourage tourism and support to the Hebron community. Leonard and Chanie Grunstein, who have long been involved with the Hebron Fund, provided $18,000 in generous sponsorship in memory of Leonard’s father, Morris Grunstein of blessed memory.
Leonard Grunstein at NYC’s Celebrate Israel Parade
The 50th Annual Celebrate Israel Parade in New York City