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Mayor de Blasio unveils plan to increase affordable housing in New York City

Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled an ambitious plan to increase low- and middle-income housing at Fort Greene on Monday. Behind him can be seen the sleek Forte, a luxury condominium next to BAM. Photo by Ed Reed for the Office of the Mayor

Will help keep middle-class jobs in city

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Mayor Bill de Blasio in Fort Greene on Monday laid out a 10-year plan to build or preserve 200,000 affordable apartments across all five boroughs. The apartments would provide enough housing to serve more than a half-million residents, and prevent lower- and middle-class workers from being priced from their neighborhoods.

The Mayor called his $41 billion Housing New York plan “the most expansive and ambitious affordable housing agenda of its kind in the nation’s history.”

De Blasio said the plan would benefit families ranging from very low incomes (under $25,150 for a family of four) to those in the middle class.

Out of the 200,000 affordable units, 120,000 would be preserved and 80,000 newly built.

The median apartment rent in New York City has risen by 75 percent since 2000, while real incomes have declined by 4.8 percent, according a report issued in April by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. While low-income renters used to spend a third of their wages on rent, they now spent 41 percent.

A major feature of de Blasio’s plan is the requirement for all projects requiring rezoning to set aside a portion of the new housing to be developed as permanently affordable to low- or moderate-income households. The number of units reserved for the neediest people will increase fourfold.

At the same time, the city will launch a new mixed-income program that will benefit middle income residents. 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.

Other features include:

-          The development of hundreds of vacant sites across the boroughs

-          Preventing building neglect landlord harassment of those in rent-regulated housing

-          Expanding affordable housing for seniors through Section 8 vouchers, expanded SCRIE program, and through city housing projects

-          Building permanent supportive housing for the homeless using homeless shelter funding

-          Doubling the capital budget of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development

“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,” Mayor de Blasio said. “This plan thinks big – because it has to.”

The city will undertake what the de Blasio called “ground-up neighborhood planning” to identify areas with opportunities for more housing, and also take into account the infrastructure improvements that would be required with greater density.

Roughly 194,000 construction jobs and almost 7,100 permanent jobs will be generated by the housing plan, the Mayor said.

He also said the city would “streamline the development process” and help to contain construction costs by “overhauling outdated regulations and removing duplicative agency processes.”

Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen said the city was “linking our housing strategies with our work to spur economic development, deliver good jobs, and revitalize neighborhoods.”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams praised the Mayor’s plan, calling it “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 the city’s economy and diversity.

Brooklyn Chamber’s Scissura called the plan a “win for all of Brooklyn. Not only does it provide desperately needed affordable housing, but by helping keep the best workforce in the world stay right where it is and providing for hundreds of thousands of good paying construction jobs, it will be a major benefit to the business community as well."

Public Advocate Letitia James said the city needs a program what would prevent New Yorkers from being priced out of neighborhoods, and said she was encouraged by de Blasio’s commitment to do so. “Together, we must ensure that low-income and middle class New Yorkers have access to affordable housing in all five boroughs.”

Other backers include New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Christie Peale, Executive Director of the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, Steven Spinola, President, Real Estate Board of New York, and Bill Rudin, Chairman of the Association for a Better New York.

The 115-page plan outlines more than 50 initiatives. Details can be found at nyc.gov/housing

May 5, 2014 - 1:55pm


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