Breaking News: Mayor de Blasio Announces New Housing Plan – 80/20 Rule A Thing of The Past?

980 unit La Central Affordable Housing development slated for Melrose in the Bronx.
980 unit La Central Affordable Housing development slated for Melrose in the Bronx.

Mayor de Blasio just announced his ambitious housing plan with a 10 year plan to build and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing.  In his announcement he said that this will impact 500,000 New Yorkers and also be one of the solutions to address the homelessness situation. Even extreme low income families making under $25,150 will benefit from this plan — a segment that was neglected in the previous administration.

He declared that residents will not be paying 50% of their income going towards rent: something that recently showed Bronxites pay more than 50% of their income towards rent.

The 80/20 model (where 80% of the units are market rate and 20% are affordable, low income in more “desirable” neighborhoods) will no longer be the rule of thumb and each development will be different on a site by site basis. In Fort Greene, where the mayor is making his announcement, he cited a development as an example where 50% of the 200+ units will be market rate, 20% low income and %30 middle income.

The new housing plan will not only be the largest but the fastest implemented ever.  The mayor declared that there will be a fourfold increase in units for the lower end of the income bracket (a significant increase from the previous administration) as well as a major increase for the middle class who are hurting as well.  There will also an increase in larger units for larger families and more units for seniors as well.  More details on this will be unfolded as time progresses.

Building over railyards will also be looked at in the outer-boroughs as possible locations to build such affordable housing.

Every development going forward will be developed with sustainability in mind and not only in terms of the environment but also resilient standards.  According to the press conference, following these two principles will in theory help reduce the costs of maintaining the cost of maintenance of such developments.

According to the press release issued:

Housing New York outlines the broad principles and the specific policies City agencies will implement to reach Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious goal. The plan emphasizes:

  • Unprecedented Scale: The plan calls for 200,000 affordable units over 10 years—120,000 preserved and 80,000 newly built.

  • Affordability for a Wide Range of Incomes: Affordability programs will serve households ranging from middle- to extremely low-income (under $25,150 for a family of four). 

  • Proactive and Strategic Preservation of Existing Affordability: Agencies will use every tool at their disposal to protect tenants in both subsidized affordable housing and rent-regulated housing from the tide of deregulation, and to combat neglect and disrepair that threatens many affordable buildings.

  • New Opportunities for Growth and Density: The City will undertake ground-up neighborhood planning to identify corridors and communities with opportunities for more housing (both affordable and market), and coordinate greater density with necessary infrastructure.

  • Quality Jobs: Approximately 194,000 construction jobs and nearly 7,100 permanent jobs will be generated by the housing plan, and the City will work with stakeholders to make sure they are quality jobs and integrated into the City’s workforce development ecosystem.

  • Fewer Unnecessary Barriers and Delays: The City will streamline the development process and help to contain construction costs by overhauling outdated regulations and removing duplicative agency processes.

The future of NYCHA (New York City Housing Authorities aka “The Projects”) will also play a role.  Shola Oyatole, NYCHA Chairman and her department will be working closely with residents to determine what is needed.  We know that currently NYCHA is in a major crisis and decaying.  They are in desperate need of repairs and we need to be vigilant that Bloomberg’s plan of demolishing parking lots and community centers in housing projects so that luxury housing can be built, never comes to fruition.

The total impact of this housing plan will be $41 billion in public and private financing along with a huge employment impact with an estimated 109,000 construction jobs and an estimated 7,200 permanent jobs.

What exactly will be the impact for the Bronx?  We all know that “affordable” housing isn’t necessarily affordable to those where the new construction units are built.  For example, Melrose was and continues to be the Bronx epicenter of affordable housing and has seen over 3,000 units of such units yet over 50% of residents in Community District 1 did not qualify for these units. Hopefully the mayor’s promise of addressing the extreme low-income families will address this situation.

Will there be a fundamental change in the actual affordability of how the rents are determined?

The press release mentions:

The 115-page plan, which was created through coordination with 13 agencies and with input from more than 200 individual stakeholders, outlines more than 50 initiatives that will accelerate affordable construction, protect tenants, and deliver more value from affordable housing investments, including:

Implementing Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning:
In all rezonings that substantially increase potential housing capacity, the City will require a portion of the new housing developed to be permanently affordable to low- or moderate-income households in order to ensure diverse and inclusive communities. The Department of City Planning, working with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, will initiate and expedite the completion of a study to provide the foundation for incorporating a mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program into the Zoning Resolution.

Increasing the Number of Homes for the Lowest Income New Yorkers:
The City will allocate additional resources to its housing programs to ensure that a higher percentage of units in affordable housing reach the neediest people. As a result of this commitment, the City will provide housing opportunity to 16,000 of very low-income households over the 10 years of this plan—more than four times the number served over the previous 12 years.

Launching a New Affordable Housing Program for Middle-Income New Yorkers:
As part of creating and preserving more than 20,000 homes for middle-income New Yorkers, the City will launch a new mixed-income program that is 100 percent affordable. Half of all units in these projects will be set aside for middle-income households. The remaining 20 and 30 percent, respectively, will be reserved for low- and moderate-income households. Middle-income housing is essential to support our economy and workforce, which increasingly cannot afford to live in our city.

Doubling HPD’s Capital Funding for Affordable Housing:
The Mayor’s 2015 budget will propose to more than double the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s annual capital budget in the 5-year plan, increasing investment to more than $2.5 billion. The City will expand its financial commitment to affordable housing using its capital dollars and tax expenditures to leverage other investment, and work with state and federal governments to expand their commitments.

Spurring Development of Small, Vacant Sites:
The City will launch two new programs to redevelop hundreds of vacant sites and build thousands of new units: the Neighborhood Construction Program and the New Infill Homeownership Opportunities Program. These programs will aggregate sites to develop affordable housing, including one- to four-family homeownership opportunities and up to 20-unit rental buildings. The programs will build capacity among smaller developers, local non-profits, and community development corporations to drive the projects.

Stemming the Tide of Rent Deregulation and Protecting Tenants:
The City will work with the state as rent regulation comes up for renewal in 2015 to prevent abuses of the vacancy and luxury decontrol provisions and capital improvement rules. The City will coordinate across all agencies and use every tool at its disposal—from legal action to closer scrutiny of City contracting with bad actors—to protect tenants in rent-regulated housing from landlord harassment and neglect.

Expanding Affordable and Supportive Housing for Seniors:
The City will leverage Project-Based Section 8 vouchers to make housing affordable to those seniors whose income remains stagnant or declines over time, and will continue to push for expanding income eligibility in the SCRIE program. The City will also actively seek out ways to integrate new senior housing in its development programs in collaboration with NYCHA, leveraging their resources and prioritizing their residents.

Offering Energy-Efficiency Retrofits in Exchange for Long-Term Affordability:
To help mitigate rising utility costs and preserve affordability, the City will launch a new program to targeting mid-size and small buildings—in concert with local utilities and existing subsidy programs—to encourage energy and water-use retrofits in exchange for affordability commitments from building owners. The program can help property owners reduce these operating costs by up to 30 percent.

Creating New Strategies to Prevent and Reduce Homelessness, and Develop Additional Supportive Housing:
The City will reallocate a portion of its homeless shelter funding to finance lower-cost permanent housing for homeless individuals and families. Investment in housing that is accompanied by supportive services yields significant taxpayer savings by reducing demand for high-cost shelters, hospitals, and other emergency resources. The City will seek to renew its partnership with the state to expand the development of supportive housing and to broaden the populations it serves. NYCHA will also reinstate its policy of setting aside units for families exiting the shelter system.

Mayor de Blasio’s plan also addresses the fear of gentrification and displacement of populations from encroaching development.  In his plan he goes on to say:

“Our affordable housing policies must reach every New Yorker in need, which is why this plan thinks big about the changes we need to make—in government and in the private sector—to make this a city where everyone rises together, and everyone has a safe and decent home.

If you’re in a community where affordability is disappearing, we want to protect it.

If your family lives in a rent-regulated apartment, this plan is focused on helping you keep it.

If you’re a senior trying to remain in the neighborhood you helped to build, we are fighting to help you stay.

If you are a building owner or developer intent on building or preserving affordable apartments, we will support you.

This is a five-borough, ten-year plan. It will marshal people and resources from every corner of this city behind a singular purpose: to make this city again a place where our most vulnerable, our working people and our middle class can all thrive. Together, let’s make that vision a reality.”

What do you think of the plan?

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.