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Posted on 4/25/2013
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio today called for a major overhaul of the City’s affordable housing strategy, announcing a plan to build over 100,000 new affordable units and preserve nearly 90,000 more over the next eight years. De Blasio presented his plan, “Foundation for an Affordable City,” at a press conference in Brooklyn, labeling the rapid rise in rent and falling incomes for working New Yorkers as a “full-blown crisis.” De Blasio urged a new approach that demands more from real estate interests and secures greater support for tenants and small landlords.
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The plan calls for transitioning from the voluntary “inclusionary zoning” program to mandatory requirements to build permanently affordable housing. It proposes new incentives to convert vacant lots and abandoned buildings into safe, affordable units and bring undocumented dwellings like those in basements into the legal, rent-regulated system. And it lays out strong new protections for tenants and seniors.
“Letting the real estate industry keep calling all the shots with our housing policy isn’t going to deliver what working people need. We need a new direction: hard and fast rules that mandate truly affordable housing, and innovative ways to tap the latent potential of everything from vacant lots to pension funds to bring more units online,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “If we don’t act swiftly and decisively, we’re consigning ourselves to a ‘Tale of Two Cities,’ where mixed-income neighborhoods will be a thing of the past.”
De Blasio’s plan would dramatically accelerate the pace of affordable construction and preservation, largely by converting incentives into hard and fast standards for builders. The 8-year plan calls for:
- Mandating developers include affordable housing in large developments, spurring the creation of up to 50,000 new affordable units. De Blasio called for a tiered system that mixes low, moderate and middle-income units into the same developments.
- Closing the vacant land tax loophole that encourages developers to keep land idle for prolonged periods, and creating a City registry and land bank to accelerate construction. Revenue from the vacant land loophole would support additional affordable housing development.
- Investing $1 billion from the City’s public pension funds in revitalizing and rehabilitating aging affordable housing developments. De Blasio also highlighted other avenues to bring additional capital to bear to create and preserve units.
- Bringing basement and other unconventional units like “granny flats” into the legal regulated system, while establishing firm health and safety standards. De Blasio also urged more aid for landlords who need to renovate aging properties.
- Allowing development rights to be transferred not just to adjacent properties, but within a neighborhood, in order to encourage more affordable construction.
- Launching a national coalition of mayors and governors to secure more federal investment in affordable housing.
- Expanding free legal resources to help tenants fight unlawful evictions. De Blasio also urged the repeal of Albany’s Urstadt Laws so New York City can better preserve affordability and have greater power to protect housing tracts like Stuyvesant Town and Mitchel Lama buildings.
- Increase enrollment in senior and disability rent support programs through outreach and by raising the income threshold to qualify.
“From Albany to City Hall, we have to do more to respond to this crisis of affordability. It’s hitting seniors, low-income families, even solidly middle class residents. We need rent regulations and housing creation programs that match reality, and keep units affordable in the long-term. I’ve been proud to work with Bill in this fight, and we’ll keep working together to make sure we have rent laws and housing policies that make sense for millions of New Yorkers, not just a small number of powerful real estate companies,” said State Senator Liz Krueger.
“Access to affordable housing is a challenge that all New Yorkers face, and I am in favor of increasing affordable housing units in every borough of New York City,” said Assembly Member Gabriela Rosa. “I am also committed to preserving and increasing affordable housing stock everywhere, but especially in Northern Manhattan, where we so desperately need it.”
“This moment of economic crisis demands we raise the bar when it comes building more affordable housing in New York City,” said Gladys Puglla, co-chair and board member of Make the Road New York’s Board of Directors. “We need a maximalist approach that fights for every affordable unit—whether it’s negotiating with developers or protecting rent-regulated units from leaving the system. Public Advocate de Blasio’s proposals, such as strengthening requirements for developers in exchange for zoning changes, will help us get there.”
“This is emblematic of Bill de Blasio’s progressive stance on fiscal concerns for the city of New York; this is why I have endorsed such a candidate—a candidate whose expressed interests are in ensuring that the residents of our great and dynamic city are able to reap the benefits of living within its borders. Affordable housing statutes are the foundation of such a pursuit,” said Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda.