Former housing czar takes swipe at de Blasio

Alicia Glen and Dan Doctoroff spoke at Wednesday’s TRD Talks Live

Former New York City Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen isn’t impressed by her former boss’ plan to cut $2.3 billion from the city’s capital budget — a move some have estimated will delay the financing of 21,000 affordable housing units.

“I think it’s one of the most short-sighted things I’ve ever seen. I think it is penny wise and pound foolish,” she said during a TRD Talks Live panel Wednesday. “The debt service on that capital budget for the housing bonds are de minimis. There are so many ways that we could take a look at the operating budget.”

The former housing czar noted that the city uses its capital budget to leverage “unbelievable amounts of private investment and resources from the state and federal government.” She said the city should instead “double down on things that leverage money,” including housing. The de Blasio administration has maintained that it expects its affordable housing program to remain on track despite the cuts, which Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed after city tax revenue plummeted this spring. A representative for the mayor didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment on Glen’s remarks.

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Wednesday night’s speakers largely focused on the need for continued growth in the city and how that will require changing how people think about density — especially in terms of land-use policies that encourage mixed-use projects.

Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff, who served as deputy mayor of economic development under Michael Bloomberg, lamented Amazon’s decision to cancel plans for a headquarters in Long Island City as a watershed moment. He commended Glen’s work on the Amazon deal and said the city will “suffer” the company’s loss. But he said opposition to Amazon showed that not all New Yorkers were confident that the benefits of the company’s headquarters would be distributed fairly.

“We’re going to have to develop a new model because if we don’t, then things like Amazon will continue to happen, the rezonings that have been defeated will continue to happen,” he said. “They may be defeated by a relatively small minority or City Council members who have too much authority over citywide imperatives, but we’ve got to be able to convince people that the benefits of that growth are going to accrue to everybody in this community.”

Write to Kathryn Brenzel at