Speaker’s Planning & Land Use Toolkit and Housing Agenda offer comprehensive actions to tackle affordable housing shortage with equitable and responsible development
New York, NY– Today, New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams released her Housing Agenda to Confront the City’s Crisis and announced plans for the Council to pass legislation establishing a citywide Fair Housing Framework with targeted goals for each community district, ensuring every neighborhood contributes fairly to building affordable housing in the nation’s largest city. It would help address historic disparities in housing production and neighborhood investment that have often exempted highly resourced neighborhoods from affordable housing development in New York and cities across the nation. The Fair Housing Framework legislation would position New York City as a national example for equitable housing development, as it faces a dire housing crisis. The Housing Agenda also outlined actions the City must take to deepen affordability, preserve housing, and restore support for city agencies to better meet the greatest housing needs of New Yorkers.
The agenda was accompanied by a Planning and Land Use Toolkit to improve the City’s land use process by establishing principled guidance and tools to advance comprehensive planning that promotes successful development. It is designed to assist Council members, community members, land use applicants and the City in achieving successful outcomes that balance citywide housing goals with neighborhood needs in development.
Together, the agenda and toolkit provide concrete actions the City must take to confront New York City’s housing crisis, caused by an affordable housing shortage that has raised rents to historic highs amidst population growth far outpacing housing production.
“It’s no secret that New York City is facing a housing crisis that disproportionately burdens those who need affordable housing at the deepest levels,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “To meet this crisis head-on, we must build more housing with a Fair Housing Framework, focus on deepening affordability, and prioritize preservation of our housing stock. Every district must participate in solving this crisis to ensure that affordable housing development is distributed equitably across our city. I am confident that a commitment to equitable and responsible housing development will bring a new chapter in New York City, where all New Yorkers have a real chance at building their legacy in this great city.”
The Housing Agenda includes the following:
1. Increasing Housing Production with a Fair Housing Framework
- Pass citywide Fair Housing Framework legislation to require more detailed housing production, preservation, voucher, and neighborhood investment goals for each Community District based on factors that include access to opportunity, infrastructure capacity, and displacement risk.
- Shape and enact the Administration’s “Zoning for Housing Opportunity” citywide zoning text amendment to remove regulatory barriers to housing production in high-opportunity neighborhoods and address the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s (HPD’s) lack of financing to facilitate subsidized affordable housing in high-opportunity neighborhoods.
- Advocate repeal of New York State’s 12 Floor Area Ratio cap on residential development in order to further unlock the potential for new affordable housing in the highest density areas, like midtown Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn where affordable Mandatory Inclusionary Housing is not currently mapped.
- Advocate for HPD to set increased citywide production targets for extremely low-income (30% AMI or less) and very low-income (50% AMI or less) households that are the most cost-burdened and housing-deficient.
2. Deepening Housing Affordability
- Pursue a new city-state New York/New York agreement to build more supportive housing that helps provide stability for New Yorkers with addiction or mental health challenges, who are formerly homeless, living with HIV/AIDS, or returning from the justice system.
- Expand citywide acceptance and use of rental housing vouchers, increasing number of market-rate units in developments dedicated for New Yorkers with housing vouchers.
- Increase opportunities to make homeownership affordable to working families by adjusting HPD’s Open Door Program so that it targets families earning less than $100,000 per year with expanded down payment assistance.
- Collaboratively advocate with the Congressional Delegation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to update AMI calculations to account for inflation and rising costs.
3. Preserving Affordable Housing
- Advance legislation and policy changes at the city and state levels to address the problem of vacant affordable housing units, particularly rent-regulated units.
- Advocate for the Administration to prioritize additional resources and solutions to management challenges at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) that curb delays of needed capital repairs and the deterioration of building conditions.
- Expand funding and improve effectiveness of HPD’s “Neighborhood Pillars” and “Landlord Ambassador” preservation programs for renters, and HomeFix and the Homeowner Help Desk programs that support working-class homeowners at risk of housing instability.
- Advocate and work with the State to advance joint legislation, programs and regulatory changes that will help make basement apartments safe and sustainable as affordable housing.
4. Restoring Capacity for Housing Agencies & Staff
- Advocate and prioritize legislative oversight and accountability to secure adequate support and management changes from the Administration that allows housing agencies to hire and retain staff that resolves understaffing and access adequate resources.
- Continue advocating for the Administration to dedicate increased capital funds for affordable housing, with a combined additional $1.5 billion each year for a total annual commitment of $2.5 billion for HPD and $1.5 billion for NYCHA.
The Planning and Land Use Toolkit consists of six major areas to address planning challenges with essential considerations for stakeholders:
- Elevating community engagement and addressing citywide needs. Expanding participation and input from diverse stakeholders at the neighborhood level in the process – in frequency, depth, and inclusivity. Balancing local input with long-term citywide goals and needs can elevate the role of planning for communities and the city, beyond specific projects and initiatives.
- Advancing fair housing and increasing affordability. Every district must participate in solving our housing crisis with affordable housing development. Though not every project can be 100 percent affordable, we should strive to maximize affordability. And we must address the racial disparities in access to affordable housing. Prioritizing affordability beyond Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, while preserving existing affordable housing, can help residents remain in their communities.
- Supporting equitable economic development. New developments can create long-term economic opportunities. Projects should provide jobs that come with good benefits and wages. 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. Our public spaces are sacred places of gathering and communal living. But low-income New Yorkers and communities of color disproportionately lack access to open and green spaces. We must plan holistically for open spaces and safe streets on a neighborhood-wide level, encouraging greater coordination with the Department of Transportation, the Parks Department, and other agencies.
- Adapting to climate change and transitioning to green energy. As we build, we must do so in ways that help reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and private transportation. New York City should incentivize the use of green energy and prioritize public transit access in development.
- Ensuring equitable access to healthcare, education, and essential services. We must proactively plan to increase access to healthcare and essential services, particularly in neighborhoods that have suffered from historic underinvestment. The health of a community relies on participation of all its members, so we must encourage planning for intergenerational services, like childcare, schools and senior centers, wherever possible.
The release of the Housing Agenda and Planning Toolkit follows the Council’s leadership to approve significant housing development projects with deep affordability. Since the beginning of the year, the Council has approved over 40 projects to create more than 12,000 units of housing, with more than 60 percent being affordable. This includes the Bruckner Rezoning in Council Member Velazquez’s district, Hallets North in Council Member Caban’s district, Innovation QNS, and Innovative Urban Village in Council Member Barron’s district.
Housing production is failing to keep pace with New Yorkers’ need for homes, contributing to a growing affordability crisis. From 2010 – 2020, New York City built only about 200,000 new housing units, while gaining nearly 630,000 new residents and nearly one million jobs. This rate of production lags far behind most other large growing cities. Only 16% of affordable units produced in New York City since 2014 are for extremely low-income households, who face some of the greatest housing challenges, despite their representing 34% of New York City renters.
“Over 62,000 New Yorkers have identified the need for safe, stable and affordable housing as the single-most important problem facing our City,” said Council Member Pierina Sanchez, Chair of the Committee on Housing & Buildings. “The median income in our City would need to double for a New Yorker to afford the median rent price, and the pain is felt most acutely by our lowest-income New Yorkers. There is a devastatingly low vacancy rate in available affordable apartments of less than 1% – compounding neighborhood instability, public safety and lack of opportunity against our most vulnerable New Yorkers. In the face of this housing crisis, we need a bold framework that does not only indiscriminately aim to increase production but aims to increase production in a way that advances fair housing goals, aids those suffering the most and increases protection for tenants. The Citywide Fair Housing Framework legislative initiative answers this call, and with the partnership of the administration, community stakeholders and fellow Council Members, I am excited to utilize my role as Chair of Housing and Buildings to advance this framework and legislative outcomes.”
“As the price of rents in New York City soar past pre-pandemic numbers and employee wages remain stagnant, the need for quality, truly affordable housing has never been greater,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Chair of the Committee on Land Use. “Creating an action plan to build more housing is exactly what New York City needs at this critical juncture to combat this unprecedented housing crisis; Speaker Adrienne Adams’ Housing Agenda and Planning and Land Use Toolkit do just that. A comprehensive framework that highlights and addresses government barriers in developing housing, the report also serves as a guiding document for current and future members of the City Council in focusing on the equitable creation and preservation of housing across all 51 Council Districts. I thank Speaker Adams for her leadership on this very important issue, as well as the Council’s Land Use division for their thorough analysis in creating this plan.”
“Right now, many New Yorkers, especially in our underserved, low-income communities, are facing difficulties to obtain and maintain the basic right to safe and affordable housing for their families. Addressing our city’s current housing crisis takes a collaborative effort that sets both short-term and long-term provisions that will encourage the expansion for more affordable housing, sustainable homeownership, and rental support,” said Council Member Kevin C. Riley, Chair of the Subcommittee on Zonings and Franchises. “As the Chair of the New York City Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, I am proud to stand with Speaker Adrienne Adams and partner with my colleagues to advocate for enhanced fair and responsible developments in our communities. The Speaker’s Housing Agenda and Planning and Land Use Toolkit strengthens the Council’s commitment to provide a substantial and comprehensive means to addressing New Yorkers’ housing needs during this time of crisis.”
“New York City is in the midst of a dire affordable housing crisis that is impacting every community and requires bold solutions,” said Council Member Farah Louis, Chair of the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings, and Dispositions. “I am proud to stand with Speaker Adrienne Adams and my colleagues in the City Council to unveil a housing agenda and land use framework that fairly and equitably prioritizes affordable housing for all New Yorkers. The actions and recommendations included in these plans will address our housing shortage while paving the way for all districts to contribute to solving this crisis. I look forward to working with my colleagues and all stakeholders to ensure the residents of this city can have a safe and affordable home.”
“New York City’s longstanding approach to planning and land use is inequitable and dysfunctional,” said Barika X. Williams, Executive Director of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development. “It consistently puts lower income and BIPOC communities and the Council Members who represent them in a position of reactive negotiations rather than proactive visioning. We applaud Speaker Adams for putting out Land Use Guidelines that point the way to a more consistent, proactive, and equitable way forward.”
“Speaker Adrienne Adams and the New York City Council are right – every district and neighborhood must help solve the housing crisis,” said Rachel Fee, Executive Director, New York Housing Conference. “The principles they include rightly talk about the need to engage communities to improve projects and neighborhoods but also including citywide housing needs when looking at local housing decisions. We thank Speaker Adams for her leadership and look forward to working with her and the rest of the Council to expand housing and affordable housing supply and continuing to work to make housing and affordable housing spread more equitably throughout the city.”