Affordability, climate change take center stage during de Blasio’s ‘State of City’ address

Posted On Fri, February 7, 2020 By

Posted On Fri, February 7, 2020 By In affordable housing, Policy

Billionaires’ Row © 6sqft

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday laid out his vision to “save” New York City, pledging to focus on affordability, climate change, and protections for small businesses during his last two years in office. “This city and everything it stands for must be saved. And we are the ones who have to save ourselves,” the mayor said during his State of the City address. De Blasio’s vision involves building on initiatives his administration has put forward during his tenure, including creating more affordable housing, increasing tenant protections, legalizing basement apartments, and launching the second phase of the Green New Deal.

The city will enter the next phase of its ambitious affordable housing plan, rebranded as “Your Home NYC,” and focus on improving affordability for all New Yorkers. Half of all city-financed new homes will be set aside for families making under $50,000 per year, with half of those designated for families earning less than $30,000 per year.

And, just a day after the real estate industry learned about the elimination of some broker fees, the mayor said he wants to offer renters an alternative to security deposits. At up to 60,000 city-financed homes, renters would have the option to pay a small fee monthly instead of a full month deposit upfront.

The administration will also legalize basement apartments by updating zoning laws. Last March, the mayor signed legislation to create a three-year pilot program that helps make basement apartments in East New York both legal and affordable. The conversion program was recommended by a working group in 2016 as part of the East New York Neighborhood Plan. According to de Blasio, legalizing basement apartments will add 10,000 more affordable homes in the city over the next decade.

De Blasio said his administration will push the state legislature to pass tenant protections for New Yorkers who live in unregulated apartments. “Our challenge, our enemy in this struggle, it’s an economic one. It’s not that we have to fear street thugs,” de Blasio said. “It’s that we have to fear bad landlords.”

As part of the second phase of the city’s Green New Deal, de Blasio said the administration will use the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park to manufacture wind turbines. He also signed three executive orders that end government use of single-use plastic bottles by 2021, stops the use of natural gas and fossil fuels in government buildings, and makes all city vehicles electric by 2040.

The address (which can be watched in full here) also mentioned saving small businesses with a landlord vacancy tax and possible commercial rent control, investing the city’s young people by opening new community centers and expanding free Pre-K, and creating a new unit in the police department to solely enforce traffic laws.

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