New York City: Affordable Housing in the Big Apple

new-york-1517278__340The reasons for New York’s affordable housing issues are varied and complex.  Much like the other major cities of the world, population growth and limited space are somewhat to blame.  However; any commodity that is in high demand is going to cause supply issues.   If affordable housing was an Iphone, we would simply just build more to meet demand.  That is not that simple.  Other issues are hurting New York City and increasing affordability issues.  Lets summarize a great article by Curbed that you can find here. 


  • Rent controlled apartments are disappearing
  • Affordable units being built are targeting income groups of $60,000-$130,000-important but does not get that group that probably would not qualify for public housing or section 8 vouchers
  • Tenants throughout NYC are spending a ridiculous amount of their money on rent.  Over 50% in many cases.
  • Lobbying against efforts to restrict development or mandatory set asides.
  • Blue Zoning-which is investing in lower income neighborhoods with the intention of targeting wealthier income brackets.

Of interesting note, another author brings out that rent controls/stabilization hurt everyone not in a controlled unit.  This drives developers to focus on building higher scale luxury apartments to make up for the lack of rental income.

Planning to Build:

Building your way out of an affordable housing crisis is a tough road to travel.  However NYC is looking at inclusionary zoning to help.  This is any type of zoning that requires some amount of affordable housing in some sort of way.   One of the plans is to up-zone in certain areas so that developers can go higher vertically.  In exchange, they would add some affordable units to the development.  This is a pretty standard idea being pushed out across cities across the USA that are having affordability issues.   Many people believe it is unfair that only a few neighborhoods are being chosen and that some type of city wide program would be more equatable.


The plan in NYC is to build 200,000 affordable units between 2014-2024.  The goal is ambitious to say the least.  However; we are seeing that a lot of construction is taking place.   The multi-layered plan includes affordable housing across all of the major districts and parts of the city.

A few years back, the New York City Department of Building and Preservation launched plans for a massive 5,000 unit project in Queens.

The update on the housing plan showed that the city is working and making a lot of progress.   They financed the development of 17, 246 units of housing for those making less than $31,000.  These units are also in place for those making less than $40,800 for a family.  More housing was built for those with disabilities or other social issues.  That includes more than 2,000 supportive housing units for those with need especially formerly homeless.   The plan to build affordable housing in NYC is trying to also maximize overall community development as well as job creation.  The update to the Mayor’s plan can be found here.  I recommend giving it a read.


NYC is not standing by and ignoring the affordable housing issue.  The major plans for development, zoning, and rent stabilization are all ways for the city to meet the demand for housing.  Developers should be put in a situation where they can turn a profit but NYC is not just for the wealthy.  It has a history of many different income groups, races, ethnicity and that must be protected.  Do you live in NYC?  Do you have any experiences positive or negative with the affordable housing?  Email us at




**Source Material**

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