Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program Sent to Community Boards for Public Review

Carl Weisbrod, Chairman of the City Planning Commission. Image credit: CityLand

Carl Weisbrod, Chairman of the City Planning Commission. Image credit: CityLand

The program would be the strongest inclusionary housing requirement in the nation.  On September 18, 2015, the City Planning Commission initiated public review of the Department of City Planning’s application for the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, which is one of the major programs to be implemented under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York plan.  The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program would require, rather than incentivize, residential developers to reserve a portion of newly-created housing units as permanently affordable.  The program seeks to help the fifty-five percent of New York City residential-renters who are “rent burdened,” which has increased by eleven percent since 2000.

The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program provides developers with two primary ways to meet zoning requirements.  The appropriate option would be decided on a case-by-case basis between the CPC, the developer, and the City Council based on local community housing needs.  Developers constructing either ten residential units or 12,500 square-feet of residential space within MIH zoning areas would be required to set aside either twenty-five percent of the building’s residential space for households earning sixty percent of the “Area Median Income,” or AMI, or thirty percent of the residential space for households earning eighty percent of the AMI.  In either case, developers are prohibited from targeting any units at households earning more than 130 percent of the AMI.

Developers building residential units subject to Mandatory Inclusionary Housing zoning requirements would have three options for providing the requisite affordable housing units.  The affordable housing units could be located in the same building as market-rate units, in a separate building on the same zoning lot as market-rate units, or either on a separate zoning lot in the same community district as the market-rate units or within a half-mile from the market-rate development subject to the program’s requirements.

Affordable housing units that are in the same building as market-rate residential units would be distributed throughout at least fifty percent of the building and would share the same entrance as the market-rate units.  Affordable units built in a separate building on the same zoning lot as market-rate residential units would have access to a primary building entrance on the same street frontage as the market-rate units’ building.  The building-entrance regulations aim to prohibit developers from restricting affordable unit tenants from using the same building entrance as market-rate unit tenants.  The separate entrances built for tenants in this situation are called “poor doors,” and have been so stigmatizing to the affected tenants that legislation was introduced in March of 2015 to ban their use entirely.

The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program would provide a “payment in lieu” option to small developments that would include a maximum of twenty-five residential units or 25,000 square-feet of residential space.  Developers that choose this option would pay a fee, rather than build affordable housing units.  The fee amount would be determined on a case-by-case basis by evaluating the amount it would have cost to build a permanently affordable unit in the near vicinity of the development.  Developers would also be able to satisfy Mandatory Inclusionary Housing requirements by offering affordable housing units for sale based upon income requirements that are similar to those placed upon affordable rental units.

Every community board will be vote on the ULURP application within the next month and will issue their reports by November 30, 2015.  Information about how to speak or submit comments to your community board can be found here.

CPC: Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (160051-ZRY) (Sept. 18, 2015).

By: Jessica Soultanian-Braunstein (Jessica is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2015)

One thought on “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program Sent to Community Boards for Public Review

  1. I believe that anything we can do to encourage people of different incomes to live within the same building, neighborhood or zip code should be done. To accomplish this we must insist that developers to build affordable housing on the same lot, in the same BUILDING SHELL, or on an adjacent lot as market rate housing, fully understanding that high rents for market rate apartments include staffing, facilities, and luxury services that are precisely not included in lower or subsidized rents. Maybe they are available for the lower rate tenants on an extra fee basis. I STRONGLY object to the press’ labeling of access to the lower rent units as “poor doors”, which they are not; they are simply entrances with significantly less staffing, no additional facilities, and less services within the same well-built (hopefully looking the same) building shell or next door building. If both low rent and high rent tenants use the same entrance, I expect embarrassing staff confusion and discrimination between high and low rent tenants who receive different services depending on the rent they pay. I anticipate a lack of dignity. I personally would prefer a separate entrance of my very own for my less expensive apartment. I would never expect the same facilities and services if I could not afford to pay for them. I can only imagine how these difference may be heightened at holiday tip time. Please allow developers to consider these operating differences when planning the buildings. as long as different incomes are in the same community, we have accomplished our goal of a wonderful diverse city and dignity for all.

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