Mayor de Blasio Announces Progress on Affordable Housing Plan

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the financing of 17,300 units of affordable housing. Image credit: Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the financing of 17,300 units of affordable housing. Image credit: Mayoral Photography Office

17,300 units of affordable housing were created or preserved in 2014.  On January 15, 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference to announce the financing of over 17,300 units of affordable housing during 2014.  These units, 11,185 preserved and 6,191 of new construction, were financed as a part of the Mayor’s Housing New York plan to preserve and build 200,000 units of affordable housing by the end of Fiscal Year 2024.  According to Mayor de Blasio, these units will be enough to provide housing for 42,000 New Yorkers.

The announcement was made at 45-55 North Elliott Place in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, a low-income cooperative of 159 families earning less than $60,000 for a family of four.  Mayor de Blasio announced that through $3.1 million in capital funding from the administration and $250,000 from Public Advocate Letitia James during her time as the local City Councilmember, the building would remain affordable for its tenants for the next thirty years.  Mayor de Blasio drew attention to increasing local gentrification pressures, saying “One of the reasons we developed this plan was to really address that [pressure] head-on, to focus a lot of the housing in neighborhoods where the gentrification pressures have been particularly intense, to give people a chance to stay in their own neighborhood.” The Mayor also emphasized the building was just one of many similar stories in the city, and evidence of why the housing plan must be so ambitious.  “Many people have said to me ‘Why didn’t you come up with an easier plan?’  Because those two hundred thousand units are desperately needed…so we went to the largest plan we could possibly sustain.”

The 17,376 financed units exceed the target of 16,000 units set by Housing Preservation & Development Commissioner Vicki Been at a recent City Council oversight hearing on the Housing New York plan.  At the press conference, Commissioner Been said “This hard-won achievement really reflects our collective efforts to make New York a more affordable and equitable city, one cherished home at a time.”  Commissioner Been also spoke to the aggressiveness of the housing plan, calling it the most comprehensive and ambitious plan in the nation, and argued “It’s bold because it has to be bold to deal with the depth of the affordable housing crisis we face.”  Commissioner Been confirmed the target for the 2015 fiscal year is another 16,000 financed, and announced 8,600 units of that goal had been financed as of December 31, 2014, divided roughly between 60 percent preserved units and 40 percent new construction.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams praised the announcement and the housing plan’s dedication to emphasize preserving the city’s current affordable housing stock.  “People want to redefine the conversation about affordable housing, meaning it’s new brick-and-mortar.  It is not.  It is also telling a struggling family and a senior citizen ‘You don’t have to move.  You don’t have to feel the fear you’re going to be uprooted out of your community.’”  Council Member Jumaane D. Williams spoke about how housing is the primary issue he is asked about, and commended both the ambition of the Mayor’s housing plan and the past year’s achievements.  “I’m happy that the results were income-targeted, so that all income levels had access to affordable housing.”  The Council Member also spoke favorably about the emphasis on preservation of affordable units, saying “We’ll never be able to build ourselves out of the problem.  We do have to build, but we have to preserve the affordable units that we already have so that we don’t continue to destabilize the units that are there.”

By:  Michael Twomey (Michael is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2014).

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