de Blasio ramps up homes plan, promising 100,000 more affordable homes

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to further ramp up affordable housing construction and protection has the support of New York’s real estate community but not everyone is so thrilled about it.

After moving ahead of schedule on his plan to build or protect 200,000 affordable homes by 2024, de Blasio now wants to add an additional 100,000 homes to that total by 2026.

Both the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and the New York Building Congress praised the de Blasio administration for its housing record.

“Mayor de Blasio and his team deserve credit for recognizing the need to dramatically increase housing production to accommodate New York’s growing population,” REBNY president John Banks said. “The amount of time, effort, and resources devoted to this issue by the administration has produced encouraging results.

“The current pace of housing creation and preservation must continue,” he continued, “to ensure that everyone in every neighborhood has access to an affordable, safe, quality place to call home.”

In addition to increasing his affordable housing target, the mayor also rolled out a new, $275 million program called “Neighborhood Pillars,” a private-public partnership that will provide funds to non-profits and other “mission-driven organizations” to purchase affordable homes and stave off speculators. It aims to preserve 1,000 homes a year and a total of 7,500 in highly targeted areas.

Building Congress president and chief executive Carlo Scissura praised the mayor’s actions during the past three-plus years.

“Shortly after taking office, Mayor Bill de Blasio laid out an ambitious affordable housing agenda and promised to provide the resources necessary to achieve it,” Scissura said. “Despite a number of obstacles, he and his team have risen to the challenge and expect to reach their goal far ahead of schedule. The New York Building Congress commends the Mayor for raising the bar even higher and looks forward to working with him to realize his enhanced target and timetable.”

However, affordable housing advocates do not view de Blasio’s record through such rose-colored lens.

Real Affordability for All, a tenant advocacy group in the city, feels de Blasio’s ambitious numbers are more flash than substance.

“It’s good that Mayor de Blasio is feeling pressure from us and others to increase real affordable housing for low-income New Yorkers, and to partner more closely with nonprofit developers,” Kate Goldstein, an advocate with the group said. “But his Neighborhood Pillars plan does not erase his failed housing policies of the past few years.”

Goldstein argues that the housing de Blasio claims to have protected is actually more expensive than the average asking rents for the neighborhoods in which they’re built, adding that nearly as many affordable homes have been built for households averaging $85,900 in annual income as those attainable by households averaging $25,000 a year.

“We are concerned that de Blasio is still chasing arbitrary goals like 300,000 units and putting quantity over quality,” she said. “In his expected second term at City Hall, de Blasio should deliver much better results for low-income New Yorkers who have been left behind by his administration so far.”

When he entered office in 2014, de Blasio said the city was adding or protecting 15,000 homes per year, a strong number set by his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. The current administration has increased the yearly total to 20,000 homes and it aims to get that number up to 25,000 in less than a decade.

To fulfill his latest campaign promise, de Blasio is calling for a $150 million increase to the city’s four-year housing plan, bringing the yearly expenditure to $1.3 billion for the next nine years. If successful, de Blasio said his plan would provide enough affordable homes to house the entire population of Boston.

But first, de Blasio must defeat a field of challengers in next month’s mayoral election that includes Republican Nicole Malliotakis, Reform Party member Sal Albanese and Independent Bo Dietl.

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