Mayoral candidates duke it out over affordable housing

October 16, 2013 03:34PM

In the first mayoral debate, candidates Bill de Blasio and Joseph Lhota squared off over the question of whether the inclusion of affordable housing should be mandatory for developers.

De Blasio said he would require the creation of affordable housing, while Lhota attacked the mandatory inclusionary zoning policy as unconstitutional.

“Mr. Lhota’s assessment is the wrong assessment,” de Blasio said. “It’s legal, it’s appropriate. It’s simply the government of New York City saying to developers, ‘If you want the right to make a very tidy profit on land that we’re going to open up for development that you didn’t have access to before — you couldn’t build as high on — we’re demanding affordable housing back in the name of the people.”

Lhota, for his part, said he would also require affordable housing as part of any rezoning agreement, but that he would exclude as-of-right developments that already met current zoning codes.

Some industry insiders told Crain’s that the tit for tat over specific language represented little real change from the Bloomberg administration’s current approach to affordable housing.

“I can’t think of a single residential rezoning under this current administration that didn’t set aside affordable housing as part of the deal,” one unnamed real estate source told Crain’s. “Whether or not it was ‘required’ is really just semantics.” [Crain’s]Julie Strickland