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Big banks kick in funds for NYC affordable housing effort

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio speaks

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio speaks at City Hall on July 3, 2014 in New York City. Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton

Big banks are chipping in to a $350 million fund to help finance Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan for more affordable housing.

Led by Citigroup, the banks will help finance construction loans aimed at renovating, retrofitting and remodeling buildings with between 20 and 100 units, for a total of about 7,500, across the five boroughs.

"My administration has made increasing affordable housing a very high priority -- a goal of making New York City a place that people can actually afford, a place that every kind of person can live in," the mayor said Wednesday at a Bronx news conference.

Other investors include Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America and the city's pension funds.

"I want to make clear that this isn't philanthropy," said Michael Corbat, chief executive of Citigroup, which is contributing $75 million to the project at a 2.75 percent interest rate. "This is a business decision, as well as an investment in our hometown."

Since 2006, Citigroup has financed more than $6 billion for such projects in New York City, Corbat said.

The announcement was the latest step in de Blasio's plan to create or preserve 200,000 units of so-called affordable housing units priced below the market rate.

The city has closed deals for about 8,700 units as of June 30, said Vicki Been, de Blasio's commissioner of the Housing Preservation and Development agency.

De Blasio, who came into office with an uneasy relationship with Wall Street because of his progressive agenda, voiced appreciation for the collaborative effort.

"My vision for this administration is that we will fight inequality on many fronts. This announcement today is a part of that. And I welcome the involvement of leaders of the financial community," he said.

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