New York Zoning Code Change Boon for Affordability

New York passes rent rules to blunt gentrification, and aid lower-income folks, including seniors.

The New York City Council passed sweeping changes to the zoning code on March 22, compelling private developers to build low-cost rental units and handing Mayor Bill de Blasio a victory on the centerpiece of his efforts to blunt neighborhood gentrification, wrote J. David Goodman, in his story in the New York Times:

The mayor’s plan, which changes zoning requirements across the city, survived staunch opposition. “Our plan mandates the creation of affordable housing,” Mr. de Blasio said. “It’s what is so powerful about it.”

Negotiations with the Council on the major points of the plan ensured the inclusion of units affordable to more lower-income residents–including those making 40 percent of the area median income or less–in new developments that benefit from zoning changes, a major concern in poor communities where the mayor’s plan is likely to spur development. The deal, which also includes neighborhood-specific changes to the zoning codes and the creation of housing for older adults, assured the plan’s passage on Tuesday.

Just as important as this is for low-income renters, lower income buyers must be addressed, too, particularly the millennials. “Frankly, the big market that’s not being served right now is the debt-laden Millennials, young people aged about 25 to 32,” says Matt Power, editor-in-chief of Green Builder magazine. “The risk is that if they don’t find an entry into ownership soon, they’ll join the ranks of lifetime renters.” affordablehousing

Although it’s much harder for developers to build affordable housing profitably, it’s not impossible. “Take a look at the McArthur Park Towers in Los Angeles. They managed to create some decent multi-unit housing at entry level prices, although of course they leaned on low-income housing tax credits.”

Read the full story at the New York Times. Read a related story about a study that shows how affordable rental units (like the one shown right) can also be energy efficient.