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More Housing Must Equal More Affordable Housing

February 25, 2014

In order to build Mayor de Blasio’s goal of 200,000 units of affordable housing in New York City, we must do just that – build. The Daily News reported last week that the Mayor told the Real Estate Board of New York “… the only way I can achieve my goals is if we are building and building aggressively.”

Balancing Growth with Affordable Housing

In order to build Mayor de Blasio’s goal of 200,000 units of affordable housing in New York City, we must do just that – build. The Daily News reported last week that the Mayor told the Real Estate Board of New York “… the only way I can achieve my goals is if we are building and building aggressively.” And yes, New York City should, and will, continue to develop and grow.

But building bigger and quicker does not necessarily mean building better.

The mayor promised more than just an aggressive building program.  He promised asmarter and more equitable housing program – one where the first concern is leveraging truly affordable housing for local communities, not providing bigger development opportunities for the Real Estate industry.

This requires a more balanced approach to housing development than we’ve had.

Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning policy, a central part of de Blasio’s campaign platform, would require future moderate and large residential developments to set aside a portion of their buildings as affordable. Spurring affordable housing development through a Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning policy is inexorably linked to spurring development overall. Structured correctly, this policy will tie affordable housing production to new development, acknowledge that development is a part of the City’s future and respect neighborhood character. But this requires a balanced approach, one that ensures the policy is designed to integrate as much affordable housing as possible into City growth, not to authorize out-of-scale towers for the real estate industry with some modest amount of below-market units.

That was the Bloomberg way of doing things. The real estate industry has asked for more and more from the city – city financing, tax abatements, rezoning for larger buildings, easing landmark designations – on the vague promise that affordable housing might trickle down for struggling residents. The result is a wealthier real estate industry and a growing Citywide affordable housing crisis. It just hasn’t worked.

Under Mayor de Blasio we have the opportunity reshape our housing programs around the simple premise that we need to do more than just build housing – we need to build the right kind of housing, the kind that’s truly and permanently affordable to everyday New Yorkers.

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