Mayor appears on pace to meet 10-year affordable housing goal

Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen says 2016 was “best year in housing" ever

From left: Bill de Blasio, Andrew Cuomo and Alicia Glen
From left: Bill de Blasio, Andrew Cuomo and Alicia Glen

Despite ongoing political and community opposition that has derailed several major projects, Bill de Blasio’s administration says it is on pace to meet its affordable housing goals for the city.

The mayor’s signature housing policy outlines a 10-year goal to build 80,000 new apartments and preserve another 120,000 units for affordable housing. The mayor’s team closed financing on just over 55,400 apartments for low-and-middle-income tenants by Sept. 30, according to the most recent data from the city’s housing agency. If the administration financed 60,000 units by Dec. 31 it will be on pace with its 10-year goal, Politico reported.

Two major policy achievements in 2016 gave the administration a significant boost, according to the publication. In March, the City Council passed the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing policy, which requires developers to include affordable housing at projects in exchange for increased zoning rights on their sites. The successful rezoning of East New York, which is expected to create around 6,500 new apartments, half of which will be affordable, was also a major victory for the administration.

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However, de Blasio has come up against considerable challenges in rolling out his signature platform. In November, following months of unproductive negotiations, Fortis Property Group scrapped plans to include affordable housing at its Long Island College Hospital Long development.  In August, the city council voted against Washington Square Partners [TRDataCustom] and Acadia Realty Trust’s plans to build a 15-story property with 175 affordable apartments because of widespread community concerns.  Phipps Houses also withdrew a rezoning application for Sunnyside, Queens in September.

The expiration of the 421a tax break also caused problems and cost the city more than $1 billion in foregone revenue, according to Politico. An agreement was reached in November but is yet to be passed into law.

Still, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development Alicia Glen told Politico that 2016 was “maybe the best year” yet for housing.

“I think it as an unbelievable year. Huge amount of progress of big policy initiatives, coupled with what we expect to be really phenomenal numbers,” she said. The latest figures will be released in January. [Politico]Miriam Hall