NYC Officials Realize They Have an Affordable Housing Crisis, 10 Years Too Late

Manhattan Skyline with ReflectionsNew York City is undergoing an affordable housing crisis, and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recently announced plan to alleviate that crisis is being condemned by residents on all sides of the political divide.

The affordable housing program, if approved, would go into effect over the next decade. In total, the mayor wants to create and maintain 200,000 affordable housing units for working class residents already being pushed out of a gentrifying city.

Critics, however, say that the plan offers too little, too late to address the city’s rapidly rising rents and housing prices, while offering too many concessions to developers interested in developing luxury housing.

To reach the 200,000-unit goal, the city is easing some restrictions on developers under the condition that they set aside a portion of their units for affordable housing, according to Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development and the mayor’s point person on the housing project.

“We are in a true housing crisis, and we can’t just sit by and do nothing as market pressures change the city,” she said.

Of course, most critics agree that the de Blasio administration is about 10 years too late. While the recession and mortgage crisis rocked real estate prices nationwide, New York City was immune to this effect, instead seeing some of the highest prices in the country.

Most experts define affordable rental housing as housing that costs 30% of less of a household’s income. For families looking to buy, Ellie Mae data reveals that successful mortgage borrowers have a debt-to-income ratio of about 24%, on average.

In 2016, New Yorkers are expected to pay up to 65.4% of their income just to afford the median rent, and that’s up from 58.7% in 2015. For the vast majority of New York residents, the median home price is completely out of reach.

Meanwhile, de Blasio also announced a new effort to address the city’s growing homeless population by creating Homeless Outreach and Mobile Engagement Street Action Teams. Homeless researchers agree that a scarcity of affordable and low-income housing creates homeless populations, and the city has thousands of homeless residents on the streets, not counting the thousands more living in shelters.

The homeless action teams will track the chronically homeless and perform outreach; the mayor hopes to have the teams active by next March.

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