E.g., 10/28/2021
E.g., 10/28/2021

The ANHD Blog raises the profile of our issues, and educates our member groups, city decision makers, and the general public on our core issue areas. The ANHD Blog offers sharp, timely and effective commentary on key public policy issues, as well as our work and the work of our member groups.

All of our blogs are sorted based on the issues, projects, special tags, and dates they are associated with, and you can use the dropdowns below to filter through our blogs based on these tags. Additionally, you can do a general search through our blog, using the search bar the right. If you can’t find what you are looking for, email comms@anhd.org.

Stronger Anti-Displacement Tools for a Re-Zoned City

January 20, 2015

The de Blasio Administration has announced its intentions to rezone 15 neighborhoods over the next several years. These rezonings are essential to the Administration’s efforts to meet its goal of developing 80,000 new units of affordable housing over 10 years (out of the 200,000 total unit plan) and will shape the future of many of our communities.

The de Blasio Administration has announced its intentions to rezone 15 neighborhoods over the next several years. These rezonings are essential to the Administration’s efforts to meet its goal of developing 80,000 new units of affordable housing over 10 years (out of the 200,000 total unit plan) and will shape the future of many of our communities. As the Mayor announced last week, he has built or preserved 8.6% of the 200,000 unit goal in the first year of his Administration.

The de Blasio Housing Plan is an important and exciting part of the Mayor’s vision for a more equitable city. But one of the biggest concerns for communities is how the drive to develop new housing will impact neighborhoods’ existing affordable housing, both rent-regulated and non-regulated. While the Mayor’s Housing plan does include the preservation of subsidized affordable units, the city currently does not have mechanisms in place to preserve communities’ non-subsidized affordable units, and to prevent the displacement and harassment of tenants in the face of these rezonings.

The Administration should be commended for putting in place mechanisms to ensure that new construction in rezoning includes affordable housing. However, only a percentage of the overall units in new market rate buildings will be affordable, so whatever the number of new affordable units, they come with an even larger number of market-rate units that will increase market pressures and housing prices in a neighborhood.

Building market-rate housing, even if there is some affordable housing as part of the deal, is not a neutral act. In most of the neighborhoods that are being considered for a rezoning, we can say from hard experience that bringing in more market-rate residents increases displacement pressure in the existing private market low-rent housing throughout the neighborhood.

Market pressures threatening affordable housing are nothing new. But any rezonings for added density or conversions to residential use brings a particularly concentrated version of that pressure by creating new value for real estate developers where it did not previously exist. Many neighborhoods that were rezoned under the Bloomberg administration have seen rapidly rising rents and displacement of long-term residents from rent-regulated and affordable unregulated housing in the area.

If rezonings ultimately lead to a net loss of affordable housing despite the construction of new affordable units, we will see the city’s affordable housing crisis deepen further. And if existing low- and moderate- income residents are displaced, through harassment, demolition, and exploitation of loopholes in the rent regulation laws, then the perception in many communities that a local rezoning is for futureresidents rather than those there now is hard to dismiss.

Fortunately, displacement isn’t inevitable. There are models in our own city of effective counter-measures that could effectively protect existing residents from the pressures that come with a rezoning.

One of the primary examples of effective anti-displacement measures in a rezoning is the Special Clinton District. Covering an area roughly between 41st and 59th Streets west of 8th Avenue in Manhattan, the Special Clinton District includes several key features that together have helped to prevent the displacement of long-term residents and preserve a genuinely mixed-income neighborhood in an area that could easily have been entirely overtaken by luxury development.

The Special District includes height limits, anti-demolition measures for existing housing, protections against tenant harassment, and requirements specifically related to preserving the neighborhood’s mix of incomes. An important feature is that the burden of proof in the anti-demolition and anti-harassment regulations falls on landlords rather than on tenants, and comes with sufficient penalties to provide a serious disincentive to building owners.

Another important feature is that the Special District extends well beyond the area that was rezoned. While a rezoning is often limited to relatively small and clearly defined areas, the impact extends far beyond those borders, and those impacts need to be dealt with in advance. Speculation typically begins long before a rezoning occurs, as the anticipation of future development possibilities drives real estate prices up. Displacement is not inevitable in a rezoning – but preventing it requiresputting strong measures in place in advance of any intended rezoning – afterwards will be too late for tenants that have already been displaced.

The Special Clinton District is a valuable model that could be replicated in future rezonings. Another option would be citywide legislation incorporating some of the same ideas. Developers could be prevented from receiving Alt 1 and Alt 2 permits from the Department of Buildings without a ‘Certificate of No Harassment’ from HPD.A legislative approach would have the added advantage of preventing displacement citywide, beyond the context of any particular rezoning. Putting such legislation in place before any new rezonings move forward would also be an important mechanism for curbing the speculation that can drive out residents years before any rezoning actually occurs in their neighborhood.

We cannot allow the land-use actions of the City to price families and residents out of their homes and communities. Whatever the tools, communities and the city need to see a serious plan to prevent displacement.

Sign up Form