De Blasio’s affordable housing plan faces pushback from political allies

Council members have stalled several projects despite prior support for MIH

Mayor Bill de Blasio (inset from top: David Greenfield and Jimmy Van Bramer)
Mayor Bill de Blasio (inset from top: David Greenfield and Jimmy Van Bramer)

Mayor Bill de Blasio is no stranger to criticism of his housing plan. But his hard-won Mandatory Inclusionary Housing policy is now facing pushback from an unexpected source: political allies who previously backed the administration’s efforts to create more affordable housing.

Although the City Council approved Mandatory Inclusionary Housing in March, individual projects are now stalling, Politico reported. These include a 209-unit complex in Sunnyside, a rent-regulated and luxury condominium project at the former Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill and a proposed rezoning in Flushing.

“I think that there is a bit of a steamroller approach here that is not productive and does not make for good relationships,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who opposes the Sunnyside development because of the proposed height and loss of parking spaces. “There needs to be more appreciation for intense community opposition.” This week, Van Bramer issued a statement urging colleagues to follow him in voting against the project.

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Some say de Blasio’s goal of creating or preserving 200,000 affordable units has made him deaf to local concerns. “Because they believe in this affordable housing mission so much, they are willing to push things through that they clearly know are going to create political problems or community issues,” one council member told Politico.

But Councilman David Greenfield, who chairs the council’s land use committee, also noted increased scrutiny of land use. “The city is running out of space and people realize these decisions are going to have a lasting impact on them and their neighborhoods. … Literally every inch matters,” he said.

De Blasio spokesman Austin Finan echoed that sentiment, but added that the administration had “hundreds of units of permanently affordable apartments in the pipeline that have garnered strong support.” [Politico]E.B. Solomont