Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Mayoral Issue Grid: Housing

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 Some believe it should be repealed.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.

Michael Bloomberg

In September 2005, Michael Bloomberg expanded his original $3 billion plan to build 68,000 new homes by 2008 to a to a $7.5 billion plan to build and preserve 165,000 units by 2013. So far, the administration says 28,500 new apartments have been preserved or funded to be constructed.

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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