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New York City gained over 20,000 units of affordable housing in 2016

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The city added or preserved 21,963 affordable apartments last year—the most since 1989

2016 US Open - Day 14 Photo by Jaime Lawson/Getty Images for USTA

A lot of shit happened in NYC in 2016: the luxury market faltered, 421-a expired, Fifth Avenue became a battleground, and the city lost a few treasured institutions. But along the way, something good was quietly building up, too. Last year saw the largest addition and preservation of affordable housing in New York City in the last 27 years, according to the Times, who note that 21,963 affordable apartments were added or protected in 2016.

The milestone is part of Mayor de Blasio’s campaign promise to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade through his $41 billion Housing New York initiative. Since the plan went into action in 2014, 62,506 affordable apartments have been provided through the administration to lower-income New Yorkers. In 2016 alone, 6,844 apartments in newly constructed buildings were earmarked as affordable.

But as the city’s homeless population soars—it reached over 60,000 people last year—critics continue to deride the income bands for affordable apartments for being too out of reach of the neediest New Yorkers. In response, de Blasio’s administration has sought to set aside apartments for even lower earning New Yorkers. Of the nearly 22,000 apartments built of preserved in 2016, 4,400 were set aside for very low and extremely low income New Yorkers. This more than doubles the 8-percent figure for such earners initially set out in de Blasio’s plan.

Of the apartments built or set aside last year, 30 percent were in Manhattan and about 29 percent were in both Brooklyn and The Bronx. While last year’s precedent is impressive, it doesn’t beat 1989, when Mayor Edward Koch built or preserved 23,126 units of affordable housing.