New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided to one-up his own housing pledge. In 2013, he announced a plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing by 2024. Now, nearly a year after announcing that his administration was about one-third of the way to that goal, he’s decided to make the number 300,000 by 2026.
In 2013, de Blasio labeled his plan the most ambitious in city history, a “key piece of a larger vision to end what he described as a ‘Tale of Two Cities,’ a place where the rich and powerful had City Hall’s ear but the average New Yorker was ignored,” the Real Deal reports.
But there was some skepticism about his methods, as Henry Grabar reported for Next City in 2015 — and that wariness on the part of housing advocates still follows him.
To accomplish his super-sized plan, de Blasio will need another $150 million in funding per year. He’ll also create a number of new programs. One will combine public and private funds into a $275 million pot and then facilitate partnerships with nonprofits and “mission-driven organizations” to buy rent-stabilized buildings and keep them affordable, according to the Real Deal.
But some advocates question what “affordable” means, including Jonathan Westin, director of nonprofit New York Communities for Change.
NYCC and a number of other housing groups on Monday called on de Blasio to fire Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Housing Alicia Glen. They see Glen as an obstacle to a truly affordable plan. That critique is nothing new. The former Goldman Sachs executive was one of de Blasio’s early cabinet appointees, and her for-profit developer-centric approach began rubbing some the wrong way in the first days of the mayor’s tenure.
The city continues to be criticized for its partnerships with for-profit developers. In July, however, de Blasio’s administration announced that it would increase the number of low-income units and decrease the number of middle-income units to accommodate more truly low-income residents.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.