Adams announces “moonshot” goal: 500K new homes

His task force recommends 100-plus changes to double pace of building

Mayor Eric Adams (Getty)
Mayor Eric Adams (Getty)

Mayor Eric Adams has changed his mind about numerical housing targets.

The mayor announced Thursday a “moonshot” goal of creating 500,000 homes over the next decade. Adams previously declined to set unit-based housing goals, which was a hallmark of the de Blasio and Bloomberg administrations.

A key difference is that his predecessors highlighted the affordable unit count in their larger housing plans. Adams’ number is for homes of all kinds.

When asked about the change, the mayor said he is not going to announce affordable unit goals, but will track how many New Yorkers are ultimately housed. He said the 500,000 number refers to a mix of market-rate, low- and middle-income housing.

To reach his ambitious goal — the city issued permits for just 206,000 homes last decade, yet gained 800,000 residents — Adams called for a series of changes to reduce development timelines.

He released a “Get Stuff Done” report identifying 111 ways that “the city’s administration of development is broken” and proposals to fix it. Developers have long complained about bureaucratic bottlenecks slowing their projects. Adams estimated that the changes could cut city agencies’ processing times in half.

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In the report, Adams’ Building and Land use Approval Streamlining Taskforce, or BLAST, recommends that the city speed up pre-certification, which can take a developer two or three years to get through before beginning the seven-month Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or Ulurp. Pre-certification has no set timeline.

“That’s right, the city has a process before you can start the process,” Adams said in a speech delivered by video before addressing reporters at a City Hall press conference. Next to him was a theatrically placed mountain of paperwork stacked in W.B. Mason boxes.

The administration will seek to reduce the number of meetings built into pre-certification and simplify application requirements. The report also recommends that certain plan review and inspection responsibilities of the New York City Fire Department be transferred to the Department of Buildings to remove redundancies between the agencies.

It also suggested exempting certain small projects, potentially those with 200 or fewer apartments, from having to draft an environmental assessment statement. In September the Citizens Budget Commission made similar recommendations to speed environmental reviews and pre-certification.

The mayor also spoke about the need to “restore critical incentives” for residential development and to help landlords fix apartments that are in disrepair or not up to code. When asked whether his housing plan relied on the state reviving the expired property tax break 421-a, the mayor acknowledged that Albany needs to “get over the hurdles” to restoring the measure.

Adams echoed a number of points made last week by Gov. Kathy Hochul, who criticized Westchester and Long Island for failing to create enough housing. Like the governor, he treated his remarks Thursday as a call to action to developers, nonprofits, community members and elected officials to work together to double the city’s housing output.

“We need more housing,” he said, “and we need to build it as fast as we can.”