BY MIKE LEE
Later this month, the New York City Council will make a decision on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious and innovative housing plan, which he presented in late 2015.
A final vote by the City Council is expected by March 22 on the housing package, called the Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning and Zoning for Quality and Affordability.
The proposals follow on the heels of other de Blasio policy changes, including a first-ever rent freeze for a million rent-regulated tenants. Also, the mayor intervened to ensure tenant protections in the recent sale of Manhattan’s Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town apartment complex.
The initiative is a clear break from the retrograde policies of previous mayors, and it requires private developers receiving tax breaks and state and federal subsidies to make a quarter of new housing units affordable for working families. Also included in the package being considered by the City Council is a plan to encourage housing for low-income retirees in New York City. Because one quarter of retired persons in the five boroughs make less than $11,000 a year, this new proposal is vital for the thousands of at-risk senior citizens who struggle to maintain a home.
“If you want to build anything, you have to build affordable housing,” said the mayor at a City Hall rally to support his housing plan on March 9. “The days of giveaways are over. It is time to put the interests of the public first.”
Pressing the issue, on March 9, the mayor wrote in a New York Daily News editorial that, “We need Mandatory Inclusionary Housing to build affordable housing where the private marketplace won’t. Developers will have to build affordable housing in order to put a shovel in the ground—period.”
The union strongly backs the mayor’s proposals, and it is joined by a number of advocacy and labor groups like AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons), the Hotel Trades Council and Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union in backing Mayor de Blasio’s housing plan.
Speaking on DC 37’s radio show, DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido added his voice in support of the mayor’s aggressive housing plan.
“This plan has the elements that we believe are necessary in order to create housing for the people we represent,” Garrido said. This plan does have key elements toward maintaining a permanent housing stock. I urge the City Council to vote for this plan.”
We agree with the mayor when he says, “We cannot wait for affordable housing. The time is now.” Yes, the time is now for the City Council to support the mayor.