De Blasio: City used to let developers “write their own rules”

Calls for 160K new market-rate units, promises action against predatory landlords

Bill de Blasio
Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced six new neighborhoods where developers will be required to build affordable units and a plan to add 80,000 affordable apartments by 2024 during his second State of the City address on Tuesday.

He also proposed solving part of the housing crisis by creating an additional 160,000 market-rate units, and targeted predatory landlords and developers who received tax breaks in the past without having to provide affordable housing.

“Part of the problem is that the city has for decades let developers write their own rules when it came to building housing,” de Blasio said. “Sometimes projects included affordable housing … but far too often, they did not.”

The neighborhoods that will include mandatory affordable units in new developments are East New York, Long Island City, the Jerome Avenue Corridor in the Bronx, Flushing West and Staten Island’s Bay Street Corridor. The mayor also proposed free legal representation for tenants in rezoned neighborhoods.

The mayor singled out Sunnyside Yards — 200 acres of underdeveloped land in Queens — as prime for redevelopment. He proposed moving the rail yard underground in order to create 11,250 affordable units.

In the Southwest Bronx, the city will invest $200 million in new affordable housing to create up to 4,000 new units there, as well as infrastructure and job creation initiatives.

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And in a nod to the city’s artistic community, the city will invest $30 million to create 1,500 affordable living and work spaces for artists by the end of this decade. Of those units, 500 below-market units will be in city-owned buildings.

Real Estate Board of New York President Steven Spinola said the mayor’s plan would “go a long way to keeping New York the greatest city in the world in which to live, work, and raise a family.”

“Without such bold initiatives,” he continued, “the city’s housing market will tighten further and become even more expensive,” Spinola continued, “our industry stands ready to work with the mayor and other stakeholders to put shovels in the ground and cranes in the sky to tackle this important goal.”

The New York State Association for Affordable Housing, a trade group representing affordable housing developers, applauded the mayor for “making affordable housing his number one priority.”

Kathryn Wylde, CEO of pro-business group Partnership for New York City said that public-private partnerships were key to hitting the city’s affordable housing goal, especially given the low inventory of land and skyrocketing construction costs.

“While it was not explicit in the Mayor’s speech, I trust his administration understands that forging partnerships with the development and financial industries is the only way to accomplish his housing goals,” Wylde said.