In 2010, I requested the Independent Budgeting Office (“IBO”) assess the funding and implementation of the New Housing Marketplace plan (“NHMP”), a plan developed by the Administration to create or preserve 165,000 affordable housing units in New York City. This latest NHMP report exemplifies the ongoing challenges we have to sustain and develop affordable housing opportunities for New York City residents for years to come.
For too many New Yorkers, finding affordable and safe housing for their families is an unattainable dream. According to a recent analysis by the Community Service Society (CSS), 29% of New York households spend nearly half their income in rent. In addition, median rental prices actually increased by 25% from 2005 - 2010, leaving many New Yorkers recently impacted by the economic downtown with fewer job resources and increased costs. The burden is especially challenging for poor New Yorkers, 80% of whom pay over 50% of their income to rent.
As policymakers, we must do everything in our power to help alleviate this unsustainable burden on New Yorkers, which constrains our future ability to grow our economy and attract a diverse and talented workforce. The challenges due to decreased federal funding and continued strains on our city’s budget require us to think creatively and develop new policies.
To meet this challenge, we must utilize every resource at our disposal and must demand more from every dollar we invest. We must use modern assessment tools to track affordability challenges across income brackets, from the very poor to those struggling in the working class, and to identify affordable housing shortages in each of our City’s neighborhoods. We must continue to ensure that new development projects that require city approval are coupled with meaningful affordable housing commitments, upgrade the administration of our Section 8 voucher program, and prevent predatory landlord practices to illegally convert buildings to market rate. In addition, we must also identify new financing opportunities that will benefit both investors and our city’s residents in need of affordable housing. For example, earlier this year in my capacity as a Board of Trustees on the New York City Employee Retirement System (“NYCERS”), I proposed a resolution that recommended increasing investments in affordable housing. NYCERS previous investments in affordable housing financing have yielded above-benchmark yields, and I believe that these is no reason to not increase our focus in these investment portfolios that benefit both New Yorkers and our pension assets.
The challenges we face in this area are enormous, but with a clear plan for moving forward and a consistent vision to not leave any resource underutilized, we can address this problem for our citizens. I look forward to working with you to develop innovative strategies to increase our City’s number of affordable housing units and preserving existing units.