Labor unions, civil rights leaders, housing advocates united in call for action on housing, migrant crises

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New York Construction News staff writer

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, labor unions, civil rights leaders, and housing advocates are demanding immediate legislative action in Albany to address the dual housing affordability and migrant crises.

Between the city’s different systems offering shelter to both long-time unhoused New Yorkers and asylum seekers, there are currently more than 95,000 individuals, including more than 45,000 who have come to New York over the last 13 months seeking asylum from other countries.

“Our union firmly believes housing is a human right,” said Michael Prohaska, business manager, Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York and Laborers Local 79. “That’s why we’re proud to join Mayor Adams in his fight to address the housing crisis in New York City. From building and preserving affordable housing, to ensuring construction connects New Yorkers to unionized careers in the building trades, and finally addressing the subsidy needs of developers that supply the housing — the mayor has a robust plan for the city we call home that Albany can and must help him achieve before session ends on June 8.”

Yet, since the expiration of 421-a — the city’s main incentive program for building new affordable housing — in June 2022, there has been a significant decline in new housing creation. New housing applications for the first four months of 2023 would produce just 3,365 total homes, less than half of the number seen in an average year. Rents in parts of the city have also exceeded pre-pandemic highs as housing supply dwindles.

“From new housing supply in core Manhattan to protecting tenants across all five boroughs, New York City has a robust legislative agenda on the table to tackle the housing crisis,” said Chief Housing Officer Katz. “We have just over a week left in Albany to bring these solutions home. Working with labor leaders, tenants, advocates, and elected officials, we must ensure that all New Yorkers have a safe and affordable place to live.”

The Adams administration’s agenda for action on housing this year, including tax incentives that would facilitate construction of new affordable housing, regulatory changes that would make it easier to convert unused office space to housing, and the elimination of a zoning cap that prevents the city from adding housing in midtown Manhattan.

“We’ve said it many times, but it bears repeating: We are in a housing crisis,” said Manny Pastreich, president, 32BJ SEIU. “Our state needs to take action now without any further delay. There can be no long-term solutions that don’t involve building more housing.

“This is a large-scale problem, but to begin to tackle it, we need to enact the policies that are right in front of us now. Extending the completion deadline for 421-a projects, converting empty commercial office buildings to residential housing, and raising the FAR cap are common-sense measures that our legislature should pass before this session is over.”

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