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A Commitment to Affordable Housing

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Mayor de Blasio announces his housing plan (

Over the past several weeks, those of us committed to meeting the housing needs of all New Yorkers have witnessed real progress, giving us great hope for the future of affordable housing in our city and state. Highlighted by the announcement of a comprehensive housing plan for New York City, along with a sound capital budget, we have learned that we have a Mayor and housing leaders who are true visionaries for dramatically growing New York City's affordable housing stock.

This was particularly evident when last week the de Blasio administration, as the old saying goes, put their money where their mouth is. By announcing $1.2 billion in additional capital funds as well as critical increases for HPD staff, the Mayor has demonstrated a significant and wise investment to immediately allow for the construction and preservation of units across the five boroughs.

For the Mayor's plan to succeed, however, it will take more than just the work of government, which is why, as the state's largest organization of affordable housing professionals, we have been called to action. Speaking at our 15th annual NYSAFAH housing conference earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio addressed the more than 1,400 attendees and outlined his guiding principles towards reaching 200,000 units over the next decade, including smart rezoning, eliminating regulatory hurdles, and streamlining permitting – all worthy objectives.

As he concluded, the Mayor made his case for why, in order to meet the plan's ambitious benchmarks – 8,000 units of new housing per year, for instance – all of us committed to affordable housing must work faster, more creatively, more efficiently, and, most importantly, must work together. This includes, among other priorities, placing an emphasis on bringing new construction to economically distressed neighborhoods, as well as preserving existing housing in order to ensure these buildings can remain affordable over time.

A true public-private sector partnership is the only way to ensure we are using every tool available to solve New York's housing crisis, and our organization is honored that the Mayor has asked for our collaboration in this effort. Our members stand at the ready. With decades of experience investing in New York's communities, we understand that the real goal of affordable housing is to ensure that every New Yorker has an opportunity to succeed. Affordable housing revitalizes entire neighborhoods, it creates jobs, and it allows our economy to grow.

This will not be an easy task. But as the Mayor said in his address: "We don't take on small and easy plans. We challenge ourselves on purpose." We believe this is the right approach – one that leaves little doubt that the future of affordable housing in New York City is bright. With strong leadership from government and a community of private sector professionals demonstrating their shared commitment to this cause, we are confident that we will achieve the goals for the coming decade.

To those within affordable housing industry who have not yet joined our efforts – whether developers, financiers, or others – we urge you to become a part of this growing community. Together, we can achieve great things, enabling future generations to experience a city and state that is affordable for all.

Jolie Milstein is the President & CEO of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing, a trade organization representing more than 300 affordable housing professionals statewide. For more information on NYSAFAH visit

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