Mayor Bill de Blasio just wrapped up his State of the City address, and in addition to focusing in like a laser beam on affordable housing, the mayor also unveiled a number of additional improvements that certainly had us sitting up straight in our seats. In his address, De Blasio emphasized that his plan would look to creating denser, economically diverse affordable residential communities for not only low-income New Yorkers, but also for chronically homeless vets, seniors and artists. “While the state of our city is strong, we face a profound challenge,” de Blasio said during his speech. “If we fail to be a city for everyone, we risk losing what makes New York, New York…Nothing more clearly expresses the inequality gap—the opportunity gap—than the soaring cost of housing.” The mayor also spoke about the administration’s plan to raise minimum wage and expand public transit, which would include adding more Bus Rapid Transit lines to the outer boroughs, and, most notably, a brand new city-wide ferry system that would serve areas such as the Lower East Side, the Rockaways and Red Hook for the same cost as a subway ride. Keep reading for more highlights.
Highlights from Mayor de Blasio’s plan include:
- The construction of an additional 160,000 new market-rate units.
- The city will invest $200 million in affordable housing, infrastructure and jobs in the southwest Bronx. This includes a new public open space, roads, and remediation to spur development of up to 4,000 units of affordable housing. The design phase will begin this year.
- The city will work to develop a new Sunnyside Yards with Queens community members. De Blasio said the development provides an opportunity to build thousands of new affordable homes. A feasibility study will be launched this month to determine the costs and infrastructure needs required to redevelop the rail yards.
- The city will acquire blighted and vacant land in the Rockaways and create new, affordable housing for thousands. Transportation will also be expanded in the area to improve access to jobs in Manhattan.
- The city will launch a new city-wide ferry service that will open in 2017. The rides on these ferries will priced the same as a Metrocard fare. The ferry will serve neighborhoods including the Lower East Side, Astoria, the Rockaways, Sunset Park, Brooklyn Army Terminal, Bay Ridge, Red Hook and Soundview, among others.
- Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) will also be expanded to the outer boroughs. More than 20 routes are planned over the next four years.
- The city aims to end chronic veteran homelessness this year by finding permanent housing for the 1,000 veterans living in city homeless shelters.
- 10,000 units of affordable housing will be created for senior citizens.
- The city will invest in the creative community that has made New York what it is. This means providing 1,500 units of affordable live/work housing for artists, plus 500 dedicated work spaces converted from underutilized city-owned property by 2024.
- A rezoning of East Harlem and Stapleton, Staten Island that would allow for taller residential buildings and would require affordable housing.
- Blocking gentrification and predatory landlords to maintain affordability. The administration has designed a program to protect New Yorkers facing displacement from rising rents and harassment. A new $36 million commitment will offer free legal assistance in housing court to all tenants in rezoned neighborhoods facing harassment, building neglect or eviction proceedings. Currently about 90 percent of tenants enter housing court without a lawyer.
- Raising minimum wage to more that $13 per hour next year and employing indexing to bring minimum wage to $15 by 2019.
You can watch the entire State of the City address here: