Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics


Adams 2021: Housing - Reimagine Our City

Much of our city is zoned for another era when all New Yorkers lived in one area and worked in another. When COVID-19 hit, it economically decimated neighborhoods dominated by tall office towers, where retailers, restaurants, and other businesses relied almost entirely on 9-to-5 workers. The city also relies too heavily on office workers and the service economy overall, when it could and should be expanding employment options in areas like life sciences, urban agriculture, and manufacturing.

  • Create more live/work communities.
  • Empower community development corporations and non-profit land trusts.
  • Give faith-based institutions the tools to provide housing.

Create live/work communities.

Neighborhoods with a healthier mix of residential, commercial and retail space have done better than single-use areas in the city during the pandemic because people are traveling less. Live/work communities like Lower Manhattan also use City resources more consistently and efficiently, are more resilient to economic downturns, and can be safer because they are in constant use.

Use City offices as anchor tenants in new outer-borough development.

By moving City offices from Manhattan to the outer-boroughs, we will free up density for housing in high quality of life areas while stimulating growth in under-developed, underserved areas around outer-borough transit centers. We must augment this shift by increasing intra-borough transit options—which will be one of our overall citywide transportation goals.

Create a livable city for New Yorkers of all abilities.

Every New Yorker has the right to enjoy our city and have access to the same basic quality of life as their neighbors. But many of the approximately 1 million disabled New Yorkers are prevented from easily using City buildings, streets, and even housing because their needs have not been prioritized. My administration will conduct a citywide audit of City infrastructure and properties — including cultural institutions and groups leasing City property — to determine where those needs are not being met and form a plan for action.

Empower community development corporations and non-profit land trusts.

Community development corporations (CDCs) were a major reason New York was able to build its way out of the fiscal crisis in the 70’s and 80’s — by granting these local organizations property and funding to bring economic investment to their own neighborhoods. We will do that again to reinvigorate distressed lower-income areas by creating new economic activity and affordable housing.

Additionally, vacant and underutilized City property is a massive waste of our resources and often a blight on neighborhoods. In the midst of this housing crisis, we will aggressively seek to partner with community land trusts by offering properties to organizations that commit to building permanently affordable housing.

Give faith-based institutions the tools to provide housing.

Faith-based institutions have the social vision and local understanding to advance affordable and supportive housing projects on their own properties, but they often do not have the financial or technical capacity to do so. We will partner with faith-based institutions across New York City to leverage these development rights for a public purpose.

Finally tackle property tax reform.

Mayor after mayor has promised to tackle property tax reform, but struggling homeowners continue to wait and pay unfair bills under a fundamentally unfair and overly complicated system. I’m going to immediately put in place a committee to look at these tax laws and come up with real solutions to alleviate co-ops and condominiums and shift the tax burden off of renters and homeowners in less affluent areas to the owners of pricey apartments in wealthy areas . Billionaires are not paying their share of taxes. This will be fairly examined within our first year, with a robust outreach effort that gets maximum input from impacted New Yorkers.

End the lien sale, for good.

There is enough evidence that the annual lien sale has not been a just or an effective debt collection program. A real recovery is not balanced on the backs of the generational wealth in Black and Brown communities. Our focus should be on reinvesting in historically marginalized communities, and there are a number of promising models we will consider to replace the lien sale and do just that.

Additionally, we will ensure there is massive reform of the controversial Third Party Transfer (TPT) program, which was supposed to be used to help preserve affordable housing but has too often been a subterfuge to remove properties from homeowners who had their properties, in some cases, for more than thirty years.

Allow building inspections by drones

One of the most expensive regulatory costs and biggest potential slowdowns for any building developer is the inspections process — and those costs either stall growth or are eventually passed on to tenants. Drones can and should be used to cut costs by performing inspections much more efficiently and cheaply.

Adopt pet-friendly housing policies.

According to a study by the ASPCA, housing-related issues are the number one reason renters give up their pets. NYC is a city of renters, and housing that is owned or operated by the City of New York should not displace the cost of caring for animals on yet another City system — our animal shelters. By adopting pet-friendly policies in our City-owned and operated housing systems, we can keep pets out of the animal shelter by keeping them where they belong — with the people who love them.

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