The article “De Blasio Pins Affordable Housing Hopes on Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning” correctly highlights the challenge of requiring affordable housing in any new developments that depend on zoning changes.
One alternative de Blasio should consider is to mandate the construction of middle-income housing only in the development of city-owned land. The city successfully took this tact with Seward Park, a strip of city-owned land on the Lower East Side, by obligating RFP respondents to make at least half of the housing units there affordable. Refining the requirements to be more capital market friendly may have enabled an even greater amount of middle-income units.
Requiring affordable housing to be built as part of city RFPs – as opposed to all development projects – will send a signal that he wants to work with the real estate industry to create badly needed affordable housing and strengthen New York’s middle class.
Leonard Grunstein is an expert in real-estate finance who worked on the original ground-lease deal for Battery Park City as well as on other public-private projects in the city.