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Op-Ed | Affordable homes for New Yorkers

Aug. 15, 2023 By Mayor Eric Adams

New York City is home to people from all over the world. We may eat different foods and speak different languages, but in the end, we all want things: jobs, good schools for our children, public safety, and a chance to live the American Dream. A central part of that dream is an affordable home, and our city, like the rest of the state and country, urgently needs to create much more housing for people of all incomes.

Today, less than 1 percent of apartments in New York City listed below $1,500 in rent are available for new tenants. That’s the lowest in 30 years. And there are more families and children in need of affordable housing than ever before. I have talked to hard-working New Yorkers who struggle to afford rent for their families. I have met with our brothers and sisters living in shelters and tents. But I also know what happens when they get the key to an affordable home. I have seen the smiles and relief when they finally have a stable, safe place to build their dreams. That is why our administration announced a “moonshot” goal of 500,000 new homes for New Yorkers over the next decade. And we are working tirelessly to make that goal a reality. 

We are speeding the production of affordable housing, preserving the housing stock we already have, taking steps to allow unused office space to be converted to homes, and removing bureaucratic barriers to get New Yorkers out of shelters and into permanent homes swiftly.

Over the last year, we created and preserved nearly 27,000 affordable new homes; and we lifted the 90-day rule so that, instead of having to wait for 90 days, those in shelter can now receive housing vouchers immediately and move into permanent homes as quickly as possible. In fact, this year, we moved the most people from shelter into permanent housing in the history of the voucher program.

One in 17 New Yorkers live in public housing. And we are giving them more power through the NYCHA Trust, which will allow thousands of NYCHA residents to have a say in their own future and unlock billions of dollars for much-needed repairs.

We also need action from the state Legislature to pass a tax incentive (421-A) to get new housing built. Last year, projects that relied on 421-A made up half of all newly built affordable housing. And we need the Legislature to help us convert empty offices into affordable homes for New Yorkers. Without state lawmakers’ assistance, the progress we made last year will stall. We are also working on removing outdated state regulations that prevent us from building more housing in crowded areas like Midtown Manhattan, and we are sparing no efforts to make sure that state lawmakers do their part to support us with the necessary legislation.

Building more affordable homes isn’t easy in a place like New York City. You need creativity and persistence to get it done. But as someone who lived on the edge of homelessness as a child, I know how important it is to have a place to call home. Having your own home can change your destiny. And that is what our administration aims to deliver for all New Yorkers.

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