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NYC gas moratorium will exacerbate affordable housing crisis

New York City is set to face yet another obstacle to solving its ever-growing affordable housing crisis—a natural gas moratorium.

At a critical time when we need to be maximizing our production of affordable housing, news that affordable housing developers will be subject to a moratorium is unacceptable.

Elected officials and relevant stakeholders must come together to find a quick solution to our energy needs that will protect housing production for the most vulnerable New Yorkers.

The grossly inadequate supply of affordable housing in New York City is no secret—most New Yorkers feel the heavy burden of their rent every time they make a choice between having a roof over their heads or providing necessities like food and healthcare to their families. Compounding this issue, affordable housing is often subject to variables that are beyond our control which makes new developments exceedingly burdensome and expensive to provide.

One such variable is the proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement Project—a natural gas pipeline expansion that New York’s energy providers say is necessary in order to continue to power our growing city and prevent the May 15 moratorium.

Many question the potential environmental impact of a pipeline expansion and argue that the city should turn to alternative forms of energy to prevent the moratorium.

Still, the de Blasio administration has pointed out that if a quick solution is not agreed upon then a gas moratorium would likely increase the city’s reliance on dirtier fuel sources to heat and power our city’s buildings.

While we appreciate the consideration of the environmental impacts of the project and support meaningful discussion about those impacts, we also urge stakeholders and government officials to acknowledge the reality and quickly develop a solution that would allow vitally needed affordable housing projects to continue unimpeded.

Our concerns are not abstract: there are real development projects at risk. For example, Vital Brooklyn, a $1.4 billion re-zoning project to create thousands of affordable housing units, new healthcare facilities, and community space, will come to a halt. This will mean that the historically underserved and impoverished Central Brooklyn community will continue to be neglected, and long anticipated housing and revitalization will become uncertain.

It is not just Central Brooklyn that is at risk. All over the city, efforts to create affordable housing for more than half-a-million New Yorkers who struggle to pay their rent will stop. More critically, the city’s homeless population will continue to grow. These factors alone make it clear that policymakers must find a solution as soon as possible that will not ground the development of affordable housing for the many New Yorkers in need.

Whatever solution policy makers and relevant stakeholders decide, one thing is clear—decisive action is needed in advance of the May 15 moratorium, or the city’s creation of safe, secure and affordable housing will be put in jeopardy.

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