Yesterday, the City Council approved zoning changes championed by the de Blasio Administration as the best way to stimulate the supply of affordable housing for New Yorkers.
It’s a victory for the mayor, whose ambitious affordable housing plan calls for creating 80,000 new units and preserving another 120,000. The mayor deserves credit for responding to criticism of his mandatory inclusionary housing zoning proposal from councilmembers, residents and housing advocates with changes that increase the number of units that will be affordable for families making 40 percent of the AMI, or $31,000 a year.
But by itself, the MIH resolution passed by the Council is not enough to protect low income communities when they get rezoned. That’s why we need more affordability measures in each particular rezoned neighborhood. Without such measures, there is the real risk that the new demand created by rezoning will lead to increased rent pressures on the neighborhood’s existing low-income residents.
New low-income housing production is important, but the projected numbers in the mayor’s “Housing New York” blueprint are dwarfed by the numbers of low-income people in rent regulated and public housing. We need to make rent regulation more protective of low-income people by getting rid of the preferential rent loophole, and by decreasing the rent increases that are allowed when an apartment becomes vacant and goes to a new tenant. And, most importantly, we need to seriously address NYCHA’s multi-billion dollar capital needs.
Stabilizing NYCHA, and preserving this resource of affordable housing for half a million low-income New Yorkers, should command the same energy and determination as the effort to build more private affordable housing.