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Working toward a more affordable New York

After ten years of a rental housing crisis spurred by the Great Recession, housing policy is finally receiving the attention it demands.

Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris have introduced bills that would change zoning regulations to incentivize multifamily development and offer tax relief to the nation’s growing number of renters.

On the West Coast, a growing YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) movement has millennials showing up to public forums and demanding greater density.

And here in New York, affordable housing battles, on everything from rezonings and development to gentrification and homelessness, are in the news every day.

We hope this column will shine some light on these very important discussions.

Every two weeks, the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH) will detail policy issues, trends or new developments in the world of affordable housing from the perspective of the industry that develops and maintains that housing.

Our goal is to offer our unique insights into the complex ecosystem of affordable housing, including the depths of the current crisis, key legislative debates from the industry point of view, clarifying the available tools the state and its municipalities have at its disposal and correcting common misperceptions about the industry and our work.

What exactly constitutes “the industry”? NYSAFAH is the trade association for the affordable housing world.

Our 375 members are responsible for most of the rent-restricted housing built in the state with federal, state and local subsidies. Members include for-profit and not-for-profit developers, lenders, investors, syndicators, attorneys, architects and others active in the financing, construction and operation of affordable housing.

We are the nation’s largest affordable housing trade group and played a leading role in establishing the nationwide Council of Independent State Housing Associations (CISHA), which drives critical advocacy work on federal housing policies and housing resources.

In New York City, we partner with other advocacy groups to speak with a unified voice to advocate for changes that will create more affordable housing. We also host the largest affordable housing conference in the country every May, with over 1,700 registered participants this year listening to panel discussions from experts from around the country.

It is a critically important moment in the landscape of affordable housing.

There are more State and City resources than ever before, more players in the industry building incredible projects and a better understanding of the fact that there is a housing crisis. That’s the good news.

On the other hand, there are looming federal concerns in the form of constantly-threatened funding cuts, our public housing system is crumbling and gentrification’s negative side effects have created a hostility towards development—even affordable housing development—in many of New York City’s communities.

These are the issues that we at NYSAFAH work on each and every day. By digging deeper into complicated policy issues, highlighting the good work being done by those in the industry, and responding to some of the most common questions around affordable housing, we hope this column will be a resource to those who want to learn more and be a part of the solution.

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