Building Stronger 2014-2021: What the Next Mayor Can Do to Address New York City’s Housing Crisis
With a rental housing vacancy rate stubbornly hovering around three percent, and one-third of New Yorkers now paying more than half of their incomes on rent, almost all the candidates for mayor agree that New York’s perennial housing shortage has become a housing crisis. And with six percent of the city’s homeowners behind on their mortgages, the threat of foreclosure is surpassed in urgency only by the 50,000 New Yorkers seeking refuge in the City’s homeless shelters each night. New Yorkers are demanding that the next mayor tackle the issue of affordable housing head on, with a robust and far-reaching plan.
But what exactly can the next mayor do about such an intractable challenge? And how will he or she find the resources necessary to make a lasting impact? Housing First! is a diverse coalition of housing experts and a range of stakeholders who understand the real-world challenges facing New York’s next mayor when addressing the chronic lack of affordable housing in our great city. Building Stronger 2014-2021 is the blueprint for success that our new mayor needs. Representing a remarkable consensus, the Housing First! platform provides a concrete, feasible framework to invest $8 billion in a seven-point plan to create and preserve 150,000 units of affordable housing over the next eight years:
- Build 60,000 new affordable homes in multifamily rental buildings, homeownership, senior and supportive housing, by increasing and redirecting City capital investment.
- Preserve the affordability of 90,000 apartments at risk of loss due to expiring rent restrictions and/or physical deterioration;
- Facilitate an increase in both affordable and market rate housing development by reforming zoning and other building regulations, and use these changes to leverage the creation of affordable units without public capital subsidies.
- Strengthen the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to preserve and improve affordable homes in public housing;
- Support affordable homeownership and help households at risk of foreclosure to stay in their homes;
- Address the housing needs of homeless families and individuals, seniors and other vulnerable people, with targeted rent subsidies and supportive housing; and,
- Rebuild a resilient city in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
The Housing First! plan is ambitious, but achievable. It builds upon nearly $4 billion already included in the City’s current capital projections for the next 8 years. It identifies new sources of capital and operating funds, as well as strategies to employ zoning and tax incentives more efficiently. Leveraging $1.2 billion in State funding and $15 billion more in federal and private investment, Building Stronger 2014-2021 will address the urgent housing crisis, and provide an enduring and essential foundation for the future prosperity of the City’s households and neighborhoods.
By harnessing affordable housing development to address some of our city’s most pressing social problems, the new administration will also spur continued economic recovery. Based on an independent analysis,[i] the 18,750 units produced and preserved each year by the Housing First! plan will generate:
- 32,800 new jobs during construction and 3,750 permanent jobs to support resident spending and building maintenance each year;
- $1.8 billion in wages during construction, and $250 million in new compensation annually thereafter;
- $2.65 billion in economic spinoff activity during construction, including spending on materials and services; and,
- $250 million in sustained annual economic spending on goods and services and building maintenance.
While there are many obstacles to developing and maintaining affordable housing in New York City, it is a critical component of the health and economic well-being of a prosperous city and its citizens. The next administration must ensure that the city’s housing stock will support our growing economy, encourage more market-rate housing development, stabilize public housing and homeownership, addresses homelessness, and rebuild communities hit by Hurricane Sandy. The new administration would be remiss to forego this terrific and realizable opportunity to adopt Building Stronger 2014-2021 and strengthen the New York City of tomorrow.
[i] HR&A Advisors, Inc. Economic Impacts of Affordable Housing on New York State’s Economy. May, 2012