NYC council speaker proposes housing construction targets for neighborhoods

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New York Construction Report staff writer

If approved by city council, a new housing plan would require a defined number of apartments to be built in every New York City neighborhood. The plan, put forward by Council Speaker Adrienne Adams this week would address housing supply in all five boroughs.

“We have too few homes for New Yorkers, which disproportionally burdens those who truly need affordable housing,” Adams said at the meeting. “To best address the housing crisis, we need both sound housing policies and an improved planning and land-use process.”

Targets included in the Fair Housing Framework consider factors including transit and displacement risks for low-income residents, and neighborhood-by-neighborhood goals are not set.

“Far too often, New York City’s current process of decision-making on land use and development occurs on an ad-hoc basis, lurching from project to project with little grounding in the long-term needs and perspectives of local communities,” Adams said, introducing her plan. “As a result, policy tools for addressing the housing crisis and advancing inclusive solutions are underutilized.

“Planning means understanding the conditions and challenges facing our city and its neighborhoods, identifying shared goals and principles, and applying policies to address them. Planning means being intentional about our future and making sure that our decisions collectively align with these goals.

The Land Use and Planning Toolkit identifies six major solutions including:

Elevating community engagement and addressing citywide needs

  • Expand participation and input from diverse stakeholders at the neighborhood level in the process—in frequency, depth, and inclusivity
  • Balance local input with long-term citywide goals and needs

Advancing fair housing and increasing affordability

  • Address the racial disparities in access to affordable housing, encourage affordability beyond Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH), and preserve existing affordable housing so residents can remain in their communities

Supporting equitable economic development

  • Developers should work with local communities to identify needs, like increased access to fresh groceries, and work to accommodate community-based businesses in new commercial spaces

Improving open space and streets for all New Yorkers

  • plan holistically for open spaces and safe streets on a neighborhood-wide level, encouraging greater coordination with department of transportation, parks department and other agencies.

Adapting to climate change and transitioning to green energy

  • reduce dependency on fossil fuels and private transportation, incentivize use of green energy and prioritize public transit access

Ensuring equitable access to healthcare, education, and essential services

  • proactively plan to increase access to healthcare and essential services, particularly in neighborhoods that have suffered from historic underinvestment

One proposal amends the permitted floor-area-ratio of affordable housing to make it easier to build affordable housing outside of complex new developments and could encourage repurposing under-used commercial spaces.

The speaker’s plan also pushes for HPD to increase production targets for “extremely low-income” and “very low-income” households, which are considered the most rent burdened and housing deficient groups in the city.

According to Council data, the city built 200,000 new housing units between 2010 and 2020, while the population grew by more than 600,000.

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