UPDATED June 2, 2020: City Council members are fighting Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed cuts to the city’s capital budget, saying it will mean a loss of 21,000 affordable apartments over the next few years.
Based on an analysis by the New York Housing Conference, officials estimate that the mayor’s proposed $2.3 billion reduction in the city’s capital budget will delay financing for 5,000 new affordable units and 15,000 affordable and supportive housing units that would have been preserved.
Under the mayor’s proposal, $583 million would be slashed from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s capital budget in fiscal year 2020 and $457 million in fiscal year 2021, a nearly 40 percent reduction.
“While the subsequent three years are projected to offset these losses, they are beyond the term of the de Blasio administration,” Council members Vanessa Gibson and Brad Lander wrote in a report released Monday.
The mayor proposed the cuts to help balance the city budget, due July 1, after the pandemic wiped out what is now estimated as $9 billion in city revenue over two years.
But the report calls the planned capital budget cuts a “misguided application of austerity economics” that have “little benefit for immediate budget savings.” According to the report, proposed cuts will also result in the loss of more than 9,000 construction jobs.
During a press conference Monday, Gibson noted that demand for supportive housing is only going to increase in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
“Housing has to be prioritized,” she said, adding that minority communities have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic. “They have felt this pandemic the most, and they are going to feel this capital budget the most.”
De Blasio has characterized the cuts as a painful necessity, absent massive federal relief for the city.
“To fight our way out of this pandemic, the city has had to focus on addressing the immediate health and safety needs of New Yorkers,” a spokesperson for the mayor said. “This massive redirection of resources and simultaneous loss of revenue has forced us to make tough choices and push funding for some projects to later years, but the city is committed to creating as much affordable housing as possible, as quickly as possible.”
During a meeting of the Rent Guidelines Board last week, Lucy Joffe, assistant commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, said the city is confident it will still meet its 2026 affordable housing goals despite budget cuts.
The mayor has pledged to build or preserve 300,000 apartments by 2026. Term limits prevent him from seeking re-election next year.
This article has been updated to add a comment from the de Blasio administration.
Write to Kathryn Brenzel at [email protected]