During his State of the City address on February 3, New York city mayor Bill de Blasio outlined an ambitious plan to build some 240,000 new affordable and market-rate apartments.
“If we do not act — and act boldly — New York risks taking on the qualities of a gated community,” said de Blasio. “A place defined by exclusivity, rather than opportunity. And we cannot let that happen.”
His plans call for the transformation of entire neighborhoods from Brooklyn to Staten Island, and for an investment of $200 million in affordable housing, infrastructure, and job initiatives for southwest Bronx.
While the typical home purchased in the U.S. during 2012 had two bathrooms and three bedrooms, the construction plans are geared more towards building a new public open spaces, more roads, and some 4,000 units of affordable housing.
The plan will also hopefully have built 1,500 new affordable live-work spaces for artists over the next 10 years. Cultural partners, housing agencies, and philanthropic community organizations will help realize this part of the project.
What’s more, 10,000 units of senior housing units are planned to be created or preserved. This part of the program will be supported by a $400 million capital investment in addition to Section 8 vouchers.
Mayor de Blasio’s address also outlined other programs designed to protect New Yorkers facing displacement as the result of increased rents and harassment. According to officials, about 90% of tenants enter housing court without a lawyer, so a new $36 million commitment will provide free legal assistance to anyone in rezoned neighborhoods facing harassment, building neglect, or eviction proceedings.
The mayor also made a call to find permanent housing for the some 1,000 veterans living in New York city’s homeless shelters.
In order to build these denser, economically diverse and affordable residential communities, Mayor de Blasio hopes to use rules that would make affordable housing a pre-condition, and not just an option, in every major rezoning development.
Mayor de Blasio also wants to increase New York’s minimum wage to $15 by 2019, saying that “Nothing does more to address income inequality than actually raising people’s incomes.”
With such lofty goals, it’s easy to see why the mayor billed the program as “the biggest affordable housing plan anyone’s tried anywhere at any time at the local level in the history of the republic.”
“While the state of our city is strong, we face a profound challenge,” said Mayor de Blasio said. “If we fail to be a city for everyone, we risk losing what makes New York, New York… And nothing more clearly expresses the inequality gap — the opportunity gap — than the soaring cost of housing.”