Groups Warn Failure to Act Before End of Session Will Deepen Affordability, Migrant Crises
ALBANY – Senior officials from New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ administration today united with labor unions, civil rights leaders, and housing advocates to urge immediate legislative action in Albany to address New York’s dual housing affordability and migrant crises.
Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer and Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz were joined by members of 32BJ SEIU, Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York, and Laborers Local 79 as well as NAACP New York State Conference President Hazel Dukes and a coalition of elected officials — including New York State Senators Andrew Gounardes and Luis Sepúlveda as well as New York State Assemblymembers Alex Bores, Kenny Burgos, Brian Cunningham, Eddie Gibbs, Jenifer Rajkumar, and Tony Simone — to call for measures to be passed by the end of the current legislative session that will increase affordable housing production and allow for struggling New Yorkers and those in the city’s shelter system to find permanent housing.
Between the city’s different systems offering shelter to both long-time unhoused New Yorkers and asylum seekers, there are currently more than 95,000 individuals, including more than 45,000 who have come to New York over the last 13 months seeking asylum from other countries — a number that is only projected to keep growing. Yet, since the expiration of 421-a — the city’s main incentive program for building new affordable housing — in June 2022, New York City has seen a significant decline in new housing creation. New housing applications for the first four months of 2023 would produce just 3,365 total homes, less than half of the number seen in an average year. Rents in parts of the city have also exceeded pre-pandemic highs, further squeezing those at risk of eviction as housing supply dwindles.
“Our administration won a critical victory for affordable housing and working people with emergency rent relief for NYCHA residents in this year’s state budget — but there is so much more we can and must do to create the affordable housing New Yorkers so desperately need,” said Mayor Adams. “For the last several months and going back to last year, our administration has put forward serious plans to tackle the city’s severe housing shortage. In close partnership with Governor Hochul, our legislative partners, community and labor leaders, and advocates, we will continue to go to bat for working-class New Yorkers in Albany to make these commonsense changes and create much-needed affordable housing.”
“We are in a perfect storm of housing crises that threatens to devastate the people of our city and state unless immediate action is taken this year,” said Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer. “We cannot wait another year for legislators to come back to Albany. We must pass this common-sense agenda now so that we have the tools to build and prosper.”
“From new housing supply in core Manhattan to protecting tenants across all five boroughs, New York City has a robust legislative agenda on the table to tackle the housing crisis,” said Chief Housing Officer Katz. “We have just over a week left in Albany to bring these solutions home. Working with labor leaders, tenants, advocates, and elected officials, we must ensure that all New Yorkers have a safe and affordable place to live.”
The Adams administration laid out a clear agenda for action on housing this year, including tax incentives that would facilitate construction of new affordable housing, regulatory changes that would make it easier to convert unused office space to housing, and the elimination of a zoning cap that prevents the city from adding housing in midtown Manhattan. The production of more housing also complements the administration’s agenda to protect tenants, including increased funding to combat discrimination based on source of income, improving access to housing vouchers for individuals experiencing homelessness, and securing relief for thousands of New York City Housing Authority residents who fell behind in rent during the pandemic.
“We cannot ignore the urgent need for action on housing in New York. The convergence of the housing affordability crisis and the growing migrant crisis demands immediate legislative measures,” said New York State Senator Luis Sepúlveda. “It is imperative that we unite behind Mayor Adams’ administration, labor unions, civil rights leaders, and housing advocates to pass legislation that will increase affordable housing production and provide permanent housing for struggling New Yorkers and those in our shelter system. Failure to act before the end of this session will only exacerbate these crises and deepen the hardships faced by our communities.”
“We cannot wait until next year to take clear, decisive steps forward out of New York’s current housing crisis,” said New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes. “The need for more affordable housing is only growing — and we must take real action to meet that demand. In Albany and in Brooklyn, I am committed to doing all I can to increase housing supply in New York and ensure it is truly financially accessible to all.”
“Housing affordability is at a crisis level in New York City. More than half of renters are rent-burdened. New housing construction is not keeping pace with population growth. Over 95,000 New Yorkers are in our shelter system,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “Mayor Adams developed a bold, ambitious housing blueprint to address affordability in New York City. This plan will jumpstart new developments, promote affordability, and assist unhoused New Yorkers — all while creating good-paying jobs. Whatever tools the people of New York City need from Albany, I am here to deliver. We will create a 421-a replacement, provide incentives and upzoning for residential conversion of Manhattan office space, and enact tax breaks for rehabilitation of affordable housing. I have also introduced my own legislation to promote affordability, including studying 3D-printed housing, and will always collaborate with my Albany colleagues to ensure every New Yorker has a roof over their head.”
“We need to escape the situation where the only way to get a home in New York City is to win the lottery: Either Mega Millions or a Housing Lottery,” said New York State Assemblymember Alex Bores. “We need an abundance of housing so that everyone can find an affordable place. We just went through some housing proposals in the budget that were opposed by many who urged Albany to listen to locals and not overrule them. Well, New York City locals are speaking, and they need these changes. Will Albany listen?”
“The affordable housing crisis demands a bold statewide housing plan,” said New York State Assemblymember Tony Simone. “Too many New Yorkers are being priced out of their homes. Without increasing the housing supply across the state, we will only see more neighborhoods become unavailable to low- and middle-income earners. We must take major action to reform our system with every tool in our chest, such as legalizing and incentivizing office conversions and facilitating building more affordable housing with tax incentives in all districts. There is no more time to wait.”
“We’ve said it many times, but it bears repeating: We are in a housing crisis,” said Manny Pastreich, president, 32BJ SEIU. “Our state needs to take action now without any further delay. There can be no long-term solutions that don’t involve building more housing. This is a large-scale problem, but to begin to tackle it, we need to enact the policies that are right in front of us now. Extending the completion deadline for 421-a projects, converting empty commercial office buildings to residential housing, and raising the FAR cap are common-sense measures that our legislature should pass before this session is over.”
“Our union firmly believes housing is a human right,” said Michael Prohaska, business manager, Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York and Laborers Local 79. “That’s why we’re proud to join Mayor Adams in his fight to address the housing crisis in New York City. From building and preserving affordable housing, to ensuring construction connects New Yorkers to unionized careers in the building trades, and finally addressing the subsidy needs of developers that supply the housing — the mayor has a robust plan for the city we call home that Albany can and must help him achieve before session ends on June 8.”
“New York’s housing emergency needs immediate attention — and the Adams administration has laid out a common-sense plan to lead us out of this crisis,” said NAACP New York State Conference President Hazel Dukes. “Our legislature must act before session ends to enact measures that allow New York City to build the affordable housing we so desperately need.”
“Addressing New York’s housing crisis must not only happen immediately, but also in a manner that uplifts struggling communities, creates economic stimulus, and provides working-class New Yorkers a more accessible path to the middle class,” said Gary LaBarbera, president, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “This is why it is crucial that any housing plan put into action incorporates strong labor standards and prioritizes the creation of family-sustaining union careers. We are hopeful that city and state leadership will identify solutions and adopt common-sense policy to address this significant hurdle for our city and state and remain committed to creating and providing a highly skilled workforce that can quickly and masterfully begin to execute on the finalized plan.”
“CBC’s research finds both that New York doesn’t produce enough housing — choking supply and decreasing affordability — and that changing state laws and regulations is necessary to solve this crisis,” said Andrew Rein, president, Citizens Budget Commission (CBC). “Lifting the FAR cap, regulatory relief and incentives to facilitate office to residential conversion, a 421-a extension for approved projects and successor for new ones, and streamlining environmental review would make it easier, faster, and less costly to build the housing New York desperately needs. We urge the State Legislature and all communities to take action to solve this crisis so that New York remains an attractive and affordable place to live and work.”
“The legislature missed an historic opportunity to address New York’s affordable housing crisis while negotiating the state budget,” said Jolie Milstein president and CEO, New York State Association for Affordable Housing president and CEO. “The situation has only worsened since then. It’s time for lawmakers to put parochial politics aside and do what’s right to incentivize and speed construction of much-needed housing statewide. Albany has a moral obligation to act before the session ends in a few short days.”
“The state of our housing stock has been in crisis for decades, and for as long, we’ve played political chess with the programs and policies that could have increased our affordable housing supply,” said Rafael E. Cestero, CEO, Community Preservation Corporation. “Today, we are realizing the cost of doing nothing as we face the dual humanitarian crisis of ongoing homelessness issues and an unforeseen influx of asylum seekers. Both the Adams and Hochul administrations have provided clear roadmaps to jumpstart housing production, including tax incentives to spur development, increased access to vouchers, fixes to regulatory red tape, and tools to preserve units and create equitable housing opportunities. We can’t wait another day — let alone another year — for the legislature to pass the common-sense agenda that will get housing built now and provide overdue relief to millions of vulnerable New Yorkers.”
“New Yorkers across the five boroughs know that our city’s housing supply crisis will only get worse if lawmakers fail to act,” said John Sanchez, executive director, 5 Borough Housing Movement. “Lifting the FAR cap and expanding office-to-residential conversions will help jumpstart the production of new units. Our coalition urges the State Legislature to take these two actions this session and applauds the Adams administration for its leadership in pushing for these long-overdue reforms.”
“Albany needs to immediately act in order to enable New Yorkers to access thousands of affordable homes in Gowanus and throughout New York City that are threatened due to the 421-a construction deadline,” said Michelle de la Uz, executive director, Fifth Avenue Committee. “Let’s ensure these units are created so that families can have the housing stability they deserve as soon as possible. Ensuring these units are built is a critical piece of the larger comprehensive affordable housing solutions that must be addressed.”
“The need for housing continues to outpace the sluggish levels of production,” said Rev. Reginald Lee Bachus, president, the 400 Foundation, Inc. “Without direct and swift action, we stand on a precipice of a cliff called crisis. We need direct action through the tools available to us — policy at the New York State level.”
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