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Adams Administration Introduces New Tools to Address NYC's Affordable Housing Crisis

Tue June 18, 2024 - Northeast Edition
Office of Mayor Eric Adams

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Adolfo Carrión, commissioner of the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), announced June 14 the implementation of two critically-needed tools to address the city's housing crisis.

Secured as part of the Adams's successful advocacy in the state capital during this legislative session, the initiatives are designed to incentivize the construction of multifamily rental construction through a new program called "Affordable Neighborhoods for New Yorkers," or 485-x, which replaces the previous 421-a (16) tool and extends that program's deadline for projects already underway.

In addition, it creates an effort to incentivize conversion of commercial buildings to affordable homes.

The implementation of these tools — paired with the most pro-housing updates in the history of the city's zoning code through the administration's "City of Yes for Housing Opportunity" proposal — will help meet demand for new housing and get closer to reaching the mayor's goal of 500,000 new homes by 2032.

"To meet the challenge of our housing crisis, we need to use every tool in [our] toolbox to complete one simple task: build more," Adams explained in a statement. "The implementation of these new tools in such a short amount of time is another example of the rapid pace in which our administration is moving to deliver affordable housing faster, smarter and more effectively.

"But we are not stopping there," he continued. "‘City of Yes for Housing Opportunity' is not only the most ambitious zoning reform in our city's history but presents another potential tool to help us build our way out of this crisis. Working families need affordable housing now, and we are ready to answer their call."

Carrión noted that the city had worked for more than a year with its partners in the state government to secure what was needed to address the lack of homes for low-income people in the metropolis.

"Now, it's time to get to work and use those tools to create sorely-needed affordable housing," he said. "Our city faces the worst housing shortage in half a century, and we are laser focused on creating more affordable apartments, especially at rents that working New Yorkers, older adults, and the most vulnerable can afford.

"This city is for all of us — let's build housing so that it works for everyone."

The mayor's initiative was immediately hailed by leaders in Albany and New York City.

"The transformative housing package we delivered in this year's budget is already in full swing in New York City," said Gov. Kathy Hochul. "With the launch of these new tools, Mayor Adams is helping to set in motion our plan to build the homes New Yorkers need, expand the city's supply of affordable housing, and reduce costs for New Yorkers. I look forward to a continued partnership with Mayor Adams and local stakeholders to create a more affordable and more livable New York."

Leila Bozorg, New York City's executive director of housing, added, "I am grateful to the incredible public servants at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Housing Development Corporation for their fast, thoughtful and tireless work to address our housing crisis and deliver for New Yorkers."

More Affordable Homes, Better Pay for Building Crews

The 485-x program will be implemented by HPD to incentivize the inclusion of permanently affordable and rent stabilized housing in new, multi-family construction projects. Its affordability requirements include:

  • Rental projects with 150 units or more located in select areas, including Manhattan south of 96th Street, western Queens, and parts of Brooklyn, will require 25 percent of homes to be income restricted at a weighted average of 60 percent of area median income (AMI).
  • Rental projects citywide with 100 units or more will require 25 percent of homes to be income restricted at a weighted average of 80 percent of AMI.
  • Rental projects citywide ranging from six to 99 units will require 20 percent of homes to be income restricted at a weighted average of 80 percent AMI.
  • Rental projects between six and 10 units outside of Manhattan can opt for a smaller benefit and permanently restrict 50 percent of units.

Through the program, construction workers on large projects of 100 units or more will be guaranteed a minimum of $40 per hour.

Those crews on projects with 150 units or more in select areas of Manhattan south of 96th Street, western Queens and parts of Brooklyn will receive between 60 and 65 percent of the prevailing wage, or between $63 and $72.45 per hour, whichever is less, escalating at 2.5 percent per year. Citywide, building service workers in buildings with 30 units or more will receive prevailing wage.

The program also encourages new homeownership development in the outer boroughs with changes from previous iterations of development incentives designed to encourage family-sized units.

HPD expects to officially launch applications for this incentive by the end of 2024 with the first approvals occurring in 2025.

Adams Pushed State to Address City's Housing Crisis

The Adams administration successfully advocated for new tools in this year's New York state budget that will spur the creation of urgently needed housing. These include:

  • A tax incentive program to encourage office conversions to create more affordable units.
  • Lifting the arbitrary "floor-to-area ratio" cap that held back affordable housing production in certain high-demand areas of the city.
  • The ability to create a pilot program to legalize and make safe basement apartments.

Since coming into office in 2022, Adams has taken significant steps to combat New York City's housing and affordability crisis.

Under his leadership, the city financed a record number of new affordable homes in 2023 and is ahead of schedule on a 2024 State of the City commitment to advance two dozen 100-percent affordable housing projects on municipal-owned land this year through the "24 in '24" initiative.

Adams has also cut through red tape and sped the delivery of much-needed housing using the Office Conversion Accelerator, an interagency effort to guide buildings that wish to convert through city bureaucracy and other initiatives of the Building and Land Use Approval Streamlining Taskforce.

Earlier this year, the mayor joined working-class New Yorkers to kick off the public review on "City of Yes for Housing Opportunity," the most pro-housing proposal in New York City's history.

The proposal would enable the creation of "a little more housing in every neighborhood" through a set of carefully crafted zoning changes — something not done in more than half a century — to increase overall housing supply. New York City's planning department released the draft environmental impact statement of the proposal, which estimates the "City of Yes for Housing Opportunity" effort could produce as many as 108,850 new homes over the next 15 years.

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