De Blasio Ahead of Schedule on Ambitious Affordable Housing Plan

July 26, 2016

It looks like it’s been another successful year for Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing goals. When he took office in 2014, he pledged to build or preserve 200,000 such units over 10 years. In a January 2015 speech, he announced that during his first year, the city exceeded its goal by 1,300 apartments, building or preserving a total of 17,300 units. Now, an announcement on Monday from his administration says that the city is ahead of schedule with its goals thus far, financing the creation or preservation of nearly 53,000 affordable apartments.

As reported in the Times, “just in the fiscal year ending June 30, more affordable housing units — 23,284 — had been built or preserved than at any time since 1989.” In a statement the Mayor said, “This engine is in full gear, financing enough affordable homes for 130,000 people in just two and a half years.”

affordable housing

Skeptics of the Mayor’s affordable housing goals say that the affordable units are too geared towards the middle class and not enough for the poorest New Yorkers. In response, housing commissioner Vicki Been noted that 25 percent of the affordable units created during the de Blasio administration are reserved for individuals earning less than $31,100 for an individual and $40,800 for a family of three–40 percent of the area median income. Of those units, half, or 3,500, are reserved for individuals earning less than $19,050 and families of three earning less than $24,500. Additionally, more than 4,000 affordable homes for low-income seniors are underway.

However, another 25 percent of affordable units preserved last year with city financing were devoted to middle-class tenants. These apartments are located in Stuyvesant Town and East Harlem’s Riverton Houses, both large complexes built by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company for veterans returning from World war II and both sold in more recent years to investors who received tax breaks and subsidies from the city to keep units affordable.

Creating new units has been more difficult due to the Mayor’s contentious relationship with Governor Cuomo, which led to the recent lapse of the city’s 421-a program that provides tax breaks of up to 25 years to new residential buildings that reserve at least 20 percent of units as affordable housing. Despite these detours, Director of City planning Carl Weisbrod said: “This year’s numbers prove that this focus on affordable housing is bearing fruit. As we move forward, tools such as MIH and ZQA will help foster economically diverse neighborhoods and house a wider range of New Yorkers. Neighborhood planning initiatives, like the East New York Community Plan, will increase capacity to ensure future housing opportunities and create thriving neighborhoods with investments to support growth.”

[Via NYT]


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