The City Council voted decisively in favor of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to rezone areas of the city to create more affordable housing Tuesday. His landmark legislation will link approval for increased development with the creation of more affordable units and dramatically slow the tide of residents being priced out of the longtime neighborhoods.
The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Plan that mandates affordable housing in newly rezoned areas passed by a vote of 42-5 and will take effect shortly. Zoning for Quality and Affordability that changes height and parking requirements passed by a vote of 40-6 with one abstention as protesters objected from the balcony of the council chamber.
“New York City is not the only city struggling with an affordable housing crisis, but it is the only one to pass a plan that will benefit half a million low-to-moderate income people, build and preserve over 200,000 affordable housing apartments, and require developers to build affordable housing,” de Blasio said. “Years from now, when working-class families and seniors are living soundly in their homes without fear of being priced out, we will look back on this as a pivotal moment when we turned the tide to keep our city a place for all New Yorkers.”
City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) called the passage of MIH and ZQA a “phenomenal accomplishment” for the mayor.
“It’s a campaign promise kept and I was proud to be able to support it,” Dromm said. “While it’s not 100 percent perfect, for instance it doesn’t address those that are homeless right now, it is still a very good thing for New York City moving forward.”
After failing to win wide support from community boards and borough presidents, the administration had to negotiate with a City Council in which many members wanted more units set aside for the city’s poorest residents. De Blasio agreed.
“Over the course of council negotiations, significant changes were made to MIH and ZQA to address and respond to concerns of residents of the 26th District, including issues brought up by Community Boards 1 and 2,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “These changes have made MIH and ZQA stronger pieces of legislation, and turned them into bills that will allow more affordable housing while maintaining existing communities.”
Van Bramer represents Long Island City, which is one of seven areas that have been identified for rezoning under the new rule. Parts of Flushing are also in the mix.
“This bill isn’t perfect,” City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) said. “But it sets a standard that provides a good baseline for neighborhoods to begin considering plans for real affordable housing for a variety of incomes.”
In Astoria, nearly 20,000 seniors are on waiting lists for housing -- the highest number in they city and almost double the number in the second highest district -- according to City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria).
“This agreement will ensure more senior housing is built while staying contextual to current neighborhood zoning,” Constantinides said. “The two community boards in our district, CB1 and CB3, are the only two in Queens that approved the proposals last year. This agreement addresses many of their concerns and builds on their meaningful input. The overall plan will bring us forward in our efforts to keep our city affordable for working families and seniors.”
In certain areas of the borough such as Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s 25th District, covering Middle Village, Glendale and Ridewood, the housing and rezoning plan has little affect because it is comprised mainly of one- and two-family homes. Other areas like Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland’s 21st District, which includes Corona, East Elmhurst and parts of Jackson Heights, are densely populated and in need of affordable housing.
“The zoning changes the Council passed are the most aggressive in the country,” Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst) said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr