De Blasio defends affordable housing push at first town hall

Mayor says the vision of developers will no longer "dominate" neighborhoods
October 15, 2015 10:34AM

Mayor Bill de Blasio took a shot at developers at his first town hall meeting Wednesday, defending his administration’s housing and rent protection policies in the face of tough questions from activists and community group representatives.

“Let’s face it — it used to be that the market controlled everything and the developers called the tune, and their vision is what dominated our neighborhoods. Well, we’re changing that,” de Blasio said.

The Mayor defended the use of private-public partnership programs, such as his mandatory inclusionary zoning initiative, which requires developers to build affordable housing units if their projects benefit from rezonings.


“In some cases it’s pure public money. But in a lot of cases it’s also using those rezoning and the other and market-rate housing to fund the affordable housing. That’s the reality in our economic world we’re are living in. I believe that,” de Blasio said. “I can do affordable housing only, but I’d be [doing] a lot less.”

The voluntary version of that program, which predates de Blasio’s election, helped fund over 3,000 affordable units in the city in FY 2015, triple the number in FY 2014, Politico reported.

De Blasio, who promised during his campaign to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing, also defended the Rent Guildelines Boards’ decision to freeze rent-stabilized rents this years, which his administration is promoting with a $1 million ad campaign announced last week.

He had been criticized for failing to hold town-hall-style with New Yorkers during the first two years of his administration, in contrast to his predecessors. [Politico] – Ariel Stulberg