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Mayoral Issue Grid: Housing

by Gotham Gazette Staff, Aug 25, 2005

Mayoral Issue Grid


-Top Priority?
-Repeal Urstadt Law?
-Mandatory Affordable Housing

All of the candidates see affordable housing as one of the most critical issues facing New York City.

Despite a recent real estate boom, the citywide vacancy rate for rental apartments is 2.9 percent, the lowest in the last 15 years. Nearly a quarter of renters pay more than 50 percent of their incomes for housing. And 23 percent of all renters - more than 725,000 people - live in overcrowded apartments. The city also has a record number of homeless people, about 35,000 people in the city’s shelters, 25 percent more than four years ago.

The state has control over the city’s rent controlled and rent stabilized apartments. The Urstadt Law, passed in 1971, gives the state control of the rent regulation laws affecting more than half of rental apartments in the city. Some believe it should be repealed.

In order to build affordable housing in the city, some officials have proposed requiring developers to make a certain percentage of their buildings affordable. While the city currently offers subsidies to encourage developers to do so, it does not mandate it.

Fernando Ferrer

When he was Bronx Borough President, Fernando Ferrer says he helped created 66,000 homes. Now, he has outlined an ambitious $8.5 billion plan to create or preserve 167,000 affordable housing units over the next ten years.

“When I am mayor, we will build our way out of this crisis,” Ferrer said. “Brick by brick. Apartment by apartment. House by house. Those aren't just words in a speech. They're the work of my life.”

Ferrer wants to require developers to set aside 30 percent of housing units for middle- and low-income individuals in targeted areas. He says this will create an additional 15,000 homes. Financial incentives will be made available to developers who set aside an additional 20 percent of units for affordable housing. Ferrer wants to raise taxes on vacant land.

Ferrer supports the repeal of the Urstadt Law, which gives the state control of the rent regulation.

(Read Ferrer’s housing plan)

Ferrer supports mandatory affordable housing in new development. His housing plan calls for 30 percent for low to middle-income housing.

C. Virginia Fields

C. Virginia Fields has outlined a plan to build 100,000 new apartments over the next 10 years.

She wants to make affordable housing units mandatory in particular communities that are seeing dramatic increases in rents. Fields also advocates giving financial bonuses to developers in residential districts outside of Manhattan.

Fields also wants to utilize vacant land to build new housing. “I think it is important too to look at the inventory of city-owned land and to make sure that we are not selling that at market-rate prices,” she said at a recent forum.

Fields supports the repeal of the Urstadt Law, which gives the state control of the rent regulation.

(Read Fields’ housing plan)

Fields supports mandatory affordable housing in new development. She said it depends on the neighborhood and the real estate market, but that she would support "as high as 30 percent" affordable housing.

A. Gifford Miller

Gifford Miller has proposed a $7.2 billion plan to preserve and construct more than 169,000 affordable units over the next ten years. (Read Miller's housing plan.) In order to achieve this goal, Miller promises to:
- Invest $2.66 billion to preserve 85,000 units of affordable housing
- Invest $4.5 billion over to build 64,000 new units of affordable housing for low, moderate, and middle income New Yorkers, including to 9,090 units of supportive housing for seniors and the disabled.
-Create 20,000 new units of affordable housing by using Affordable Housing Impact Statements to require aggressive use of inclusionary zoning and expanding the 80-20 program.

Miller also promises to give a rent tax credit to all households that make under $100,000 a year, but don't currently qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. A household earning $100,000 or less and paying a $1,000 monthly rent would get a $360 credit, under the plan.

Miller supports the repeal of the Urstadt Law, which gives the state control of rent regulations. “There is no reason, no reason, that we should have to go up to Albany and bargain with some upstate senator for our homes,” Miller said at a recent forum. “It is wrong.”

Although Millers supports inclusionary zoning and as Speaker of the City Council has implemented rezonings of areas that create 20 percent of new development as affordable, he said he is opposed to mandatory requirements.

At a recent forum, Miller said, "If you set the set-asides too high in a mandatory what happens is that nobody builds at all. So there really isn't a difference between an effective voluntary plan and an effective mandatory plan, because if the percentages work on the dollars for people then they'll take advantage of them."

Anthony Weiner

If elected, Anthony Weiner promises to develop a comprehensive plan for affordable housing that will encompass the entire city. He believes that all rezoned residential areas should include 20 percent affordable housing, but he also wants to create a special designation for “middle-class housing.”

“It is not enough merely to have inclusionary zoning that says 80 percent at market and 20 percent for low-income people,” Weiner said at recent forum. “We need to create a third category of housing for middle class New Yorkers.”

Weiner supports the repeal of the Urstadt Law, which gives the state control of rent regulations.

At a recent forum, Weiner said he would favor housing development with "60 percent at market rate, 20 percent for middle-income families like mine and 20 percent for those making somewhat less."

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg set out a plan to build 68,000 new homes. So far, the administration says 26,000 new apartments are already under development.

Bloomberg also proposed the creation of a New York City Housing Trust Fund, which will use $130 million in Battery Park City Authority revenues to construct or preserve 3,000 units of affordable housing.

Bloomberg’s position on the repeal of the Urstadt Law - which gives the state control of the rent regulations - has changed over time. In the past, he said he supported the repeal. However, he now says that the law should not be repealed because the city cannot afford to administer the rent regulation system that the state currently administers.

(Read Bloomberg’s housing plan)

Although Bloomberg supports inclusionary zoning and as mayor has implemented rezonings of areas that create 20 percent of new development as affordable, he has not proposed mandatory requirements.

- Candidates Vie Over Affordable Housing And Homelessness Prevention Plans
- The Mayoral Candidates On Housing (Forum)
- Homeless Programs That Are Working, So Far
- The Latest Rent Increases
- Repealing the Urstadt Law


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