Housing Groups Urge City to ‘Invest in Affordability’

Housing Groups Urge City to ‘Invest in Affordability’

March 2017

Calling on the city to build more housing for poor and working-class people, a coalition of 30 housing, neighborhood, religious, and labor organizations launched their “Invest in Affordability” campaign at City Hall March 9. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York plan, the coalition said, “is ambitious in terms of the overall number of affordable housing units built or preserved,” but “we are still asking the question: Affordable for whom?” Less than one-third of the 62,500 units so far “created or preserved” under the plan are affordable to people making less than $45,000 a year, who make up almost half the city’s residents.

To remedy this, the coalition is urging the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to create two new “term sheets” setting income guidelines for city-subsidized housing construction. Under one, all apartments built would go to people making 30 to 60 percent of “area median income,” or $27,000 to $54,000 for a family of four. In the other, they would go from 30 to 100 percent of AMI, with 10 percent reserved for homeless people. They would also “provide opportunities” to create housing for poorer people—below 30 percent of AMI—and specify that the developments be built with union labor at “an ‘affordability’ wage rate of 60 percent off the ‘A’ rate, the rate used to build luxury housing.” 

“We believe the solution to the housing crisis is to apply increased city subsidies to achieve more and deeper affordability,” it said. “The city can have a double positive impact by providing affordable housing and well-paying jobs.”

The coalition estimates its proposal would add up to $66,000 per unit to the cost of city subsidies, but would almost double the amount of housing going to “those with the greatest housing needs.”