Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito with Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo: NYC Council/William Alatriste)

Things weren’t looking so great two months ago for Mayor Bill de Blasio and his Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Plan (MIH)– also known as his Affordable Housing Plan– one that required the City Council’s approval but had many detractors.

But on Tuesday, the 51-member City Council approved the two-tiered plan by a wide margin, ushering in a policy that would mandate below-market-rate apartments when developers take advantage of a city-issued rezoning.

According to the mayor, the two proposals would be the most rigorous zoning requirement for affordable housing of any major U.S. city by applying one or both of two requirements to each Mandatory Inclusionary Housing area:

  • 25% of residential floor area must be for affordable housing units for residents with incomes averaging 60% Average Median Income (AMI) ($46,620 per year for a family of three), or
  • 30% of residential floor area must be for affordable housing units for residents with incomes averaging 80% AMI($62,150 per year for a family of three)

The second policy passed on Tuesday was the Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA), an expansive revision to the city’s zoning code that shrinks parking requirements tied to affordable and senior housing, allows taller residential buildings in certain areas, lowers the minimum size of so-called micro units and enables senior residences to be built taller than nearby homes.

Both policies are intended to accomplish the mayor’s goal of creating and preserving 200,000 units of below-market-rate housing by 2024.

For months, housing advocacy groups, community boards, construction unions and most of the city council members representing the affected areas took exception with the plan, saying it didn’t go far enough, setting the bar for affordability still too high.

At the current AMI levels, the City’s proposal targets families earning at or above $51,000 annually. Meanwhile, more than 25 percent of New York City households earn less than $25,000 annually.

However, unlike building on city-own public property, there are presumed limitations around how much you can mandate with private property before developers begin claiming that it’s a taking of their property.

Earlier in the week, the mayor repeated to several press outlets that his proposals did much in the way of reigning in aggressive developers who claimed had it too easy.

“For the first time the peoples’ needs are being put first. For years developers basically got what they wanted when it came to dealing with the city government,” said de Blasio on New York 1. “Now we’re going to have a law that says we need affordable housing required any time there’s a rezoning.”


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