Is the Affordable Housing Goal in New York City Unrealistic?

Although Mayor Bill de Blasio was able to negotiate a deal with the developer at the Domino Sugar factory site in Brooklyn to build additional affordable housing units, the agreement only secured an extra 40 units. The Mayor can consider this a victory, but he certainly has a long way to go if he would like to accomplish his goal of building and preserving 200,000 affordable units in the City over the next ten years.

The Mayor’s plans are still unclear but despite his efforts, as well as success from former Mayors Ed Koch and Michael Bloomberg, can the dream of continuing to provide thousands of affordable units in New York City ever be fulfilled? Hundreds of thousands of apartments have been built or converted over the last 30 years and are priced at below-market rates, including 190,000 under Koch and 165,000 under Bloomberg, yet the demand for affordable housing only seems to increase.

Even if Mayor de Blasio succeeds in generating 200,000 additional units, this still will not make a dent in New York City’s dream of providing affordable housing for all of those who need it. Perhaps City officials should reconsider their pursuit of what seems to be an impractical fantasy and direct their attention to providing rental subsidies to those truly in need, as the Section 8 program does.

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