The city and state give tax breaks to developers for affordable housing. No tax breaks are given to small landlords whose rolls are filled with affordable rents. After all, those units are already affordable, so there’s nothing to be gained by supporting them with tax-payer money. That’s one way to look at it.
Another way: the tax breaks are not really about affordable housing at all. It’s about development. And the small landlords, after all, are the long-term target prey of the developers.
Tax breaks require including only a small portion of affordable housing in a development. The rest is market-rate, which raises city revenue by drawing wealthy residents who support the luxury economy. Market rate development also raises the real estate values and real estate taxes of the small properties surrounding them. So these tax breaks are in part subsidized by the small landlords who get no break, who have the least resources, who don’t have the capital to develop and who are the prey of the large developers whom the small landlords are subsidizing.
It’s not just that the city doesn’t care to support small landlords who are the target prey of large developers. The city is actually fighting against the small landlords and serving them up to the developers.
Why care about the small landlords in Chinatown? If they sell to developers, there will be no Chinatown to speak of. And tax breaks will break Chinatown.