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De Blasio Unveils 10-Year, $41B Affordable Housing Plan

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Bits and pieces of Mayor Bill de Blasio's affordable housing plan have been revealed over the last several months, and now, finally, the full, 115-page plan has been released. A lot of depressing housing-in-NYC-is-stupidly-expensive studies and reports have been released lately, but the Mayor's 10-year, $41.4 billion plan provides a glimmer of hope for the future. Described as "the largest and most ambitious affordability plan of its kind in nation's history," the plan outlines how the administration plans to create 200,000 units of affordable housing. Of those, 80,000 will be new units, 120,000 will be preserved, and they will target a range of incomes, from extremely low (under $25,150 for a family of four) to middle-class. The plan also details new planning initiatives and zoning changes that will help make these affordable units a reality.

The $41.1 billion in funding will come from a variety of sources, and the mayor plans to double the annual capital budget of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development over the next five years. Page 100 in the full plan outlines the exact totals that are expected from all of the involved parties.

A key part of the plan is mandatory inclusionary zoning, which means that affordable housing will be required in new developments. And the 80/20 rule—80 percent market rate, 20 percent affordable—may no longer apply. Instead, the city will decide the breakdown on a case-by-case basis. The inclusionary zoning rule will also require that the units remain permanently affordable. Tax incentives will be more limited, but it seems like megaprojects in gentrifying neighborhoods will still get tax breaks: "Rezonings that add substantial capacity for new housing in transitioning neighborhoods may require incentives to reach lower income levels."

Other zoning and land use changes aim to reduce the number of required parking spaces, make it easier to convert old industrial buildings to residential, and modify height and set-back requirements to account for modern building technologies. Additionally, the plan wants to allow for taller buildings along higher density corridors and find new uses for transferable development rights. For all the talk of De Blasio being anti-development, all of these things certainly sound like things the real estate industry can get behind.

The plan also includes two new programs to spur development of vacant sites: the Neighborhood Construction Program (NCP) and the New Infill Homeownership Opportunities Program. The latter will let sponsors purchase city-owned land and construct smaller condos or co-ops where at least one-third of the units are affordable to low-, moderate- or middle-income households. The NCP will target larger vacant sites that can accommodate at least 20 units.

In order to preserve units that are currently affordable, the city will work more closely with all agencies and the state to ensure that landlords are not illegally deregulated rent-stabilized units or taking advantage of the vacancy and luxury decontrol provisions and capital improvement rules that allow for rent increases. As the chart above illustrates, the rate of deregulation has only increased. Rent regulation laws are up for review next year, and de Blasio's plan says the city "will advocate strenuously for renewal, and for strengthening rent-stabilization protections."

For all of the details and full explanations, click through to the complete plan:
· Housing New York [Full PDF]
· Housing New York [nyc.gov]