City Council Approves Union-Backed de Blasio Housing Plan

On March 23, DC 37 Housing Committee Chair and Local 2627 President Robert Ajaye and the union’s Municipal Employees Housing Program Director Ruth Peña spoke shortly before DC 37 joined hundreds of other union and housing activists at a rally in lower Manhattan to celebrate the City Council’s passage of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan.

On March 23, DC 37 Housing Committee Chair and Local 2627 President Robert Ajaye and the union’s Municipal Employees Housing Program Director Ruth Peña spoke shortly before DC 37 joined hundreds of other union and housing activists at a rally in lower Manhattan to celebrate the City Council’s passage of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan. Photo: Mike Lee

BY MIKE LEE

After certain modifications, the New York City Council voted in support of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious and innovative housing plan, which he presented in late 2015.

The City Council overwhelmingly approved the housing package — the Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning and Zoning for Quality and Affordability — on March 22.

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.

The plan will create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing while requiring developers to set aside below-market rate units for new residential projects.

Also included in the package 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.

The union strongly backed the mayor’s proposals along with other advocacy and labor groups like AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons), the Hotel Trades Council and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

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.”

In a statement after the Council added the modifications to the two zoning plans, the Mayor said, “New York City is now on the verge of implementing the strongest, most progressive affordable housing policies in the nation. Years from now, we will look back on this as a watershed moment when we turned the tide to keep our city a place for everyone.”

On March 23, DC 37 leaders and activists joined hundreds of housing activists and other supporters at Foley Square in lower Manhattan to celebrate the victory.

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