NYC officials seek $2 billion for permanent affordable housing

March 11, 2024

Image courtesy of Nelson Ndongala on Unsplash

A group of progressive New York City officials on Monday launched a campaign advocating for permanent affordable housing. Members of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus announced the “Homes Now, Homes for Generations” campaign, calling for $2 billion in capital funding over four years to support two Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) programs that expand multi-family homeownership and preserve rent-stabilized apartments, as first reported by Politico.

“There is this fundamental right to live in a city like New York City. Cities like New York are cities of opportunity,” Council Member Pierina Sanchez, chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee, told Politico. “And if we don’t provide spaces for people to come and live and stay — and stay for generations — then we’re failing that.”

Monday’s rally held by the Progressive Caucus, and joined by City Comptroller Brad Lander and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, among other housing advocacy groups, called on Mayor Eric Adams to expand funding this budget cycle for two HPD programs: Open Door and Neighborhood Pillars.

The Open Door program funds the construction of new affordable cooperative and condominium buildings for moderate and middle-income households. The Neighborhood Pillars program provides low-interest loans and tax exemptions to nonprofits and organizations to rehabilitate rent-stabilized housing for low- to moderate-income households.

The campaign aims to address NYC’s affordable housing crisis, which continues to drive New Yorkers out of the city due to soaring rent prices and a dwindling housing supply. Last month, the city’s rental vacancy rate dropped to 1.4 percent, the lowest in over 50 years.

“This is common sense, basic stuff that any decent mayor who gave a damn about working people would invest in yesterday,” Council Member Lincoln Restler said Monday. “It’s time for Eric Adams to get with the program.”

On the state level, Senate Democrats on Monday plan to propose legislation creating a public benefit corporation to finance housing on state-owned land, as the New York Times first reported.

Officials are calling the $250 million proposal Mitchell-Lama 2.0, a nod to the original program created in 1955 to provide affordable rental and co-op housing to moderate- and middle-income families.

Mitchell-Lama helped expand housing in NYC by allowing for the construction of more than 100,000 middle-income housing units to accommodate tens of thousands of servicemen, immigrants, and refugees arriving in the five boroughs after the end of World War II. The program used developer incentives to create homes available to residents with earnings below a certain amount.

“Mitchell-Lama 2.0” would be managed by a new state agency that could fund developments on state-owned land. The agency would give developers cheap leases on state land that would be exempt from taxes and certain parts of the public review process, accelerating the construction process and making buildings affordable for companies. 

The plan also calls for a new and improved 421-a tax abatement program with better affordability protections than its predecessor, which expired in 2022.

During her 2024 State of the State address, Gov. Kathy Hochul revealed plans to allow NYC to offer a new tax break to developers of new rental developments, as well as an extension of the completion deadline of the expired program.


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