Mayor Bill de Blasio today unveiled a $41.1 billion affordable housing plan that city officials touted as the most ambitious in the city and nation’s history, and which aims to build and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next 10 years.
The plan, which Mr. de Blasio presented at a press conference in front of an affordable housing development construction site in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, aims to preserve 120,00 affordable units and build 80,000 new units over the next decade, with a focus on those at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. The plan also seeks to increase the number of units available for families making less than around $40,000 a year by 200 percent, and boost the number available for moderate-income families making between $67,121 and $100,680 a year by 50 percent from previous levels.
“This plan, over the next 10 years, will create opportunity for so many people who are currently being priced out of our city. It will create affordability in the midst of what has been the greatest affordability crisis this city has ever experienced,” said Mr. de Blasio, above the din of jackhammers in the distance.
“This is literally the largest and most ambitious affordable housing program initiated by any city in this country in the history of the United States of America. It is the largest, fastest affordable housing plan ever attempted at a local level,” he added, promising to “change the face of this city forever.”
While many of the details of the plan were vague or left to be determined, City Hall intends to focus extensively on mandatory inclusive zoning, which forces developers to build affordable units in new developments—but officials said that the proportions would be determined on a zone-by-zone basis over the years to come. As part of the plan to encourage affordable development, the city also plans to initiate at least 10 new rezonings in the coming years.
“We’re going to take a very hard look at neighborhoods where we can upzone,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Development Alicia Glen.
Advocates had hoped to see the de Blasio administration move from the 80 percent market rate and 20 percent affordability rate ratio that became the standard voluntary rate during the Bloomberg era, with some eager to see a 50-50 split. But officials insisted that they would take a case-by-case approach instead of setting city or even borough-wide standards.
The city’s planning chair, Carl Weisbrod, said that the commission planned to launch “well over a dozen studies” on specific neighborhoods “immediately, literally right away.” East New York was identified by the administration as one of the potential places to accommodate denser development. Current residential parking requirements are also likely to be lessened to facilitate denser, more mass transit-dependent development.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams made clear the goal when he declared, “Build baby, build. Build tall, build high.”
A huge piece of the puzzle will also include preserving existing affordable units, which will also include trying to preserve affordable, market-rate units in neighborhoods that may become hot in the future, according to Housing Preservation and Development commissioner Vicki Been.
In an interview with the Observer Monday afternoon, Ms. Been said that the city will try to work with building owners to help pay for energy efficiency overhauls or capital improvements in exchange for agreeing to keep rents affordable for a period of time, or even enter the units into rent regulation.
“We’re really going to be experimenting, we don’t know if this work, but we’re going to try,” said Ms. Been.
Among the more questions that the administration has yet to address is what percentage of those 200,000 units will be permanently affordable. Ms. Been said that most permanently affordable units created through the program are likely to be those built via inclusionary zoning versus those that would require ongoing city, state or federal subsidies.
The total $41.1 billion cost would include an $8.2 billion city investment in the form of funding, tax incentives, and other investments, with the rest paid for with state, federal and private funding. Though shrinking federal subsidies have severely curtailed the city’s ability to offer affordable housing in the past, city officials spoke hopefully about favorable leadership on federal and state levels that might help to restore some of that long-lost funding. The plan, however, does not assume any increase in federal funding, officials said.
Nor should New Yorkers expect change to come overnight, officials warned. The first step in implementing the plan will be in-depth studies of many of the proposals it identifies, with actual policy and zoning changes coming years down the road. Rezonings, for example, even those identified as immediate priorities, would likely not go into effect until 2015 at the earliest, according to the administration.
Real Estate Board of New York President Steve Spinola hailed the plan in a statement this morning, saying that “It identifies the problems and provides a realistic roadmap for solutions.”
View the city’s full announcement below:
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today laid out a 10-year plan to build or preserve 200,000 affordable apartments across all five boroughs—enough housing to serve more than a half-million New Yorkers. The $41 billion Housing New York: A Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan is the most expansive and ambitious affordable housing agenda of its kind in the nation’s history, and Mayor de Blasio pledged it would reach New Yorkers ranging from those with very low incomes at the bottom of the economic ladder, all the way to those in the middle class facing ever-rising rents in their neighborhoods.
“We have a crisis of affordability on our hands. It touches everyone from the bottom of the economic ladder, all the way up to the middle class. And so we are marshaling every corner of government and the private sector in an unprecedented response,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This plan thinks big – because it has to. The changes we are setting in motion today will reach a half-million New Yorkers, in every community, and from every walk of life. They will make our families and our city stronger.”
Housing New York outlines the broad principles and the specific policies City agencies will implement to reach Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious goal. The plan emphasizes:
- Unprecedented Scale: The plan calls for 200,000 affordable units over 10 years—120,000 preserved and 80,000 newly built.
- Affordability for a Wide Range of Incomes: Affordability programs will serve households ranging from middle- to extremely low-income (under $25,150 for a family of four).
- Proactive and Strategic Preservation of Existing Affordability: Agencies will use every tool at their disposal to protect tenants in both subsidized affordable housing and rent-regulated housing from the tide of deregulation, and to combat neglect and disrepair that threatens many affordable buildings.
- New Opportunities for Growth and Density: The City will undertake ground-up neighborhood planning to identify corridors and communities with opportunities for more housing (both affordable and market), and coordinate greater density with necessary infrastructure.
- Quality Jobs: Approximately 194,000 construction jobs and nearly 7,100 permanent jobs will be generated by the housing plan, and the City will work with stakeholders to make sure they are quality jobs and integrated into the City’s workforce development ecosystem.
- Fewer Unnecessary Barriers and Delays: The City will streamline the development process and help to contain construction costs by overhauling outdated regulations and removing duplicative agency processes.
“This is a plan that takes on our crisis of affordability from every angle. We are linking our housing strategies with our work to spur economic development, deliver good jobs, and revitalize neighborhoods. We are committed to innovating new ways for government and the private sector to work together to realize these ambitious goals,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen.
“I applaud the Mayor for his ambitious housing plan to serve low and middle income families with affordable housing options and I look forward to working with the City on its implementation,” saidSecretary Shaun Donovan, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“New York City’s current crisis of housing affordability threatens the basic human right to decent housing. Since the 1960s, the Catholic Church in all boroughs of New York City, through parishes, religious communities, community-based organizations and Catholic Charities, has been at the heart of the development and preservation of affordable housing. I applaud the Mayor’s far-reaching 10-year plan to build and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units throughout our city, and the Church in all boroughs of New York City looks forward to continuing to work with NYC and Mayor de Blasio to help achieve this important affordable housing goal,” said His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York.
“I commend Mayor de Blasio for putting forth a comprehensive plan to create more affordable housing at a time when so many New York families still struggle to make ends meet and afford to stay here. I look forward to working with the Mayor to help him achieve this critical goal,” said New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
“We need a robust affordable housing program that keeps New Yorkers from being priced out of neighborhoods. I’m encouraged by Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to building new affordable housing and preserving existing affordable units. Together, we must ensure that low-income and middle class New Yorkers have access to affordable housing in all five boroughs,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.
“The lack of affordable housing is a crisis that affects New York’s ability to continue to be a home and pathway to a thriving and productive middle class. Mayor de Blasio’s plan to protect or defend 200,000 units of affordable housing will begin to ensure that New York remains affordable to the middle class while also helping low income New Yorkers for whom the affordability crisis has had a devastating impact,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
“The affordable housing crisis facing Brooklynites and all residents of New York City is imposing, but it is far from insurmountable. Housing New York is a road map that will help lead us to the goal of constructing and preserving the hundreds of thousands of housing unites we will need to maintain our City’s vibrant economy and rich diversity. I thank Mayor de Blasio and Deputy Mayor Glen for their vision and their commitment to making Brooklyn affordable for all those who wish to call it home,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
“The plan announced today is an important milestone on the road to a more just and equitable city, where New Yorkers in every neighborhood will benefit from the opportunities that affordable housing creates. We look forward to continuing our work with Mayor de Blasio to promote and protect affordable and sustainable homeownership in New York City,” said Christie Peale, Executive Director of the Center for NYC Neighborhoods.
“I want to commend Mayor de Blasio and his talented staff for putting forward a plan that attempts to deal with the housing needs for all New Yorkers. It identifies the problems and provides a realistic roadmap for solutions. The Real Estate Board of New York looks forward to working with the administration to implement these critical objectives,” said Steven Spinola, President, Real Estate Board of New York.
“Mayor de Blasio’s housing plan is a significant and ambitious step forward in the efforts to ensure that New York remains accessible to everyone,” said Bill Rudin, Chairman of the Association for a Better New York. “We agree that the time is right to take bold new steps to address our city’s housing crisis, and we applaud Mayor de Blasio and his administration for issuing this important plan. We look forward to working with the Mayor and his team to meet these critical goals for our city.”
The 115-page plan, which was created through coordination with 13 agencies and with input from more than 200 individual stakeholders, outlines more than 50 initiatives that will accelerate affordable construction, protect tenants, and deliver more value from affordable housing investments, including:
Implementing Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning:
In all rezonings that substantially increase potential housing capacity, the City will require a portion of the new housing developed to be permanently affordable to low- or moderate-income households in order to ensure diverse and inclusive communities. The Department of City Planning, working with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, will initiate and expedite the completion of a study to provide the foundation for incorporating a mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program into the Zoning Resolution.
Increasing the Number of Homes for the Lowest Income New Yorkers:
The City will allocate additional resources to its housing programs to ensure that a higher percentage of units in affordable housing reach the neediest people. As a result of this commitment, the City will provide housing opportunity to 16,000 of very low-income households over the 10 years of this plan—more than four times the number served over the previous 12 years.
Launching a New Affordable Housing Program for Middle-Income New Yorkers:
As part of creating and preserving more than 20,000 homes for middle-income New Yorkers, the City will launch a new mixed-income program that is 100 percent affordable. Half of all units in these projects will be set aside for middle-income households. The remaining 20 and 30 percent, respectively, will be reserved for low- and moderate-income households. Middle-income housing is essential to support our economy and workforce, which increasingly cannot afford to live in our city.
Doubling HPD’s Capital Funding for Affordable Housing:
The Mayor’s 2015 budget will propose to more than double the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s annual capital budget in the 5-year plan, increasing investment to more than $2.5 billion. The City will expand its financial commitment to affordable housing using its capital dollars and tax expenditures to leverage other investment, and work with state and federal governments to expand their commitments.
Spurring Development of Small, Vacant Sites:
The City will launch two new programs to redevelop hundreds of vacant sites and build thousands of new units: the Neighborhood Construction Program and the New Infill Homeownership Opportunities Program. These programs will aggregate sites to develop affordable housing, including one- to four-family homeownership opportunities and up to 20-unit rental buildings. The programs will build capacity among smaller developers, local non-profits, and community development corporations to drive the projects.
Stemming the Tide of Rent Deregulation and Protecting Tenants:
The City will work with the state as rent regulation comes up for renewal in 2015 to prevent abuses of the vacancy and luxury decontrol provisions and capital improvement rules. The City will coordinate across all agencies and use every tool at its disposal—from legal action to closer scrutiny of City contracting with bad actors—to protect tenants in rent-regulated housing from landlord harassment and neglect.
Expanding Affordable and Supportive Housing for Seniors:
The City will leverage Project-Based Section 8 vouchers to make housing affordable to those seniors whose income remains stagnant or declines over time, and will continue to push for expanding income eligibility in the SCRIE program. The City will also actively seek out ways to integrate new senior housing in its development programs in collaboration with NYCHA, leveraging their resources and prioritizing their residents.
Offering Energy-Efficiency Retrofits in Exchange for Long-Term Affordability:
To help mitigate rising utility costs and preserve affordability, the City will launch a new program to targeting mid-size and small buildings—in concert with local utilities and existing subsidy programs—to encourage energy and water-use retrofits in exchange for affordability commitments from building owners. The program can help property owners reduce these operating costs by up to 30 percent.
Creating New Strategies to Prevent and Reduce Homelessness, and Develop Additional Supportive Housing:
The City will reallocate a portion of its homeless shelter funding to finance lower-cost permanent housing for homeless individuals and families. Investment in housing that is accompanied by supportive services yields significant taxpayer savings by reducing demand for high-cost shelters, hospitals, and other emergency resources. The City will seek to renew its partnership with the state to expand the development of supportive housing and to broaden the populations it serves. NYCHA will also reinstate its policy of setting aside units for families exiting the shelter system.