Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

November 7, 2013

Affordable Housing in the De Blasio Era

By David Reiss

Mayoral candidate de Blasio’s position on affordable housing policy can be found here. The key points include:

  • Require developers to build some affordable housing when they build in neighborhoods that have been upzoned (mandatory inclusionary zoning)
  • Direct $1 billion in city pension funds to affordable housing construction

  • Apply the same tax rate to big, vacant lots as applies to commercial properties and earmark the increased revenues for affordable housing

  • Ensure that affordable housing subsidies meet the needs of lower-income families and are distributed equitably throughout the City

As I had mentioned previously, NYU’s Furman Center (and its Moelis Institute for Affordable Housing Policy) ran a great series of ten conversations on the big housing issues facing New York City’s mayor. Since then, the Furman Center has posted ten policy briefs about those issues.The ten issues are

  1. Should the next mayor commit to build or rehabilitate more units of affordable housing than the Bloomberg Administration has financed?

  2. Should the next mayor require developers to permanently maintain the affordability of units developed with public subsidies?

  3. Should the next mayor adopt a mandatory inclusionary zoning program that requires developers to build or preserve affordable housing whenever they build market-rate housing?

  4. Should the next mayor seek to expand the use of city pension funds to develop affordable housing?

  5. Should the next mayor provide a rental subsidy for moderate- and middle-income households?

  6. Should the next mayor permit more distant transfers of unused development rights to support the development of affordable housing?

  7. Should the next mayor support the New York City Housing Authority’s plan to lease its undeveloped land for the construction of market-rate rental housing?

  8. Should the next mayor allow homeless families to move to the top of the waiting list for housing vouchers or public housing?

  9. Should the next mayor offer to cap the property tax levy on 421-a rental properties in order to preserve the affordable units within those buildings?

  10. How should the next mayor prioritize the preservation of existing affordable housing units?

Mayor-Elect de Blasio and his team will have to struggle with all of these issues. There are few easy answers in New York City when it comes to housing policy.

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