NEW YORK CITY — Housing advocates who say Mayor Bill de Blasio's affordable housing plan is out of reach for the poorest New Yorkers postponed planned civil disobedience in front of City Hall Wednesday because they said progress had been made in negotiations.
Real Affordability for All, a coalition of advocacy groups, threatened civil disobedience at its protest last month, saying they planned for at least 50 people to block traffic and perform other acts in front of City Hall to protest de Blasio's plan.
The group also planned a march from Zucotti Park to City Hall.
"We are postponing this action, not canceling it, based on productive movement in current negotiations," said Maritza Silva-Farrell, campaign director of Real Affordability for All, in a statement sent late Tuesday. "In the days ahead, we hope to reach an agreement with city officials on how to achieve deeper real affordability and job standards in Mayor de Blasio's housing plan."
Sources familiar with negotiations say the City Council made progress in asking the de Blasio administration to insure that 30 percent of all units under the mayor's zoning proposals to help create or preserve 200,000 units of housing by 2024 be affordable to people making 30 percent of the area median income or AMI.
De Blasio's Mandatory Inclusionary Housing zoning change would require some new construction to include a certain amount of permanently affordable housing. As the proposal currently stands, 25 percent of housing would have to be affordable to those making 60 percent of AMI or 30 percent of housing for those making 80 percent AMI.
A new report from the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development found that 30 percent of New Yorkers would be left out if the affordability levels of the mayor's plan exceed 30 percent AMI, include NYCHA residents, minimum wage workers, single mother led households and single senior citizens.
"The hope was that the plan for civil disobedience would move negotiations along and they did. There's no deal yet but productive discussions are underway," said one source familiar with negotiations.
The City Planning Commission approved the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing zoning changes and also Zoning for Quality and Affordability which would increase building heights, among other changes, to spur construction of affordable and senior housing.
The City Council is now examining both proposals and have also raised concerns about the levels of affordability.
Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams said he feels the threat of civil disobedience helped council negotiations with the administration.
"We have to go deeper. We have to get to 30 percent of AMI," said Williams. "Conversations are ongoing. We are not there yet. But having civil disobedience on the table helped us to get to where we are now. There has been progress."
Williams said the discussions are centering on how to get the plan to work at the levels of affordability the City Council is pushing for.
"There is a disagreement as to how deep we go and how we go about getting there," Williams said. "We have to keep pushing if we want this to be reflective of the city."
Austin Finan, a spokesman for de Blasio, said the administration was having "productive discussions" with the City Council and expected their plan to pass.
"As we have said all along, to make sure these affordable housing requirements stick and get the housing we need built, we’re holding to the same standards we’ve discussed throughout this whole process," Finan said.
De Blasio, speaking Wednesday at an AARP and union-sponsored rally on the steps of City Hall to support his zoning proposals, heaped praise upon his affordable housing efforts, saying they "changed the game" and were unprecedented in the United States.
The mayor also urged rally attendees to press the City Council to pass the measures.
"We need the City Council members to understand the time is now. We cannot wait for affordable housing. The time is now," de Blasio said.
In spite of the show of support for de Blasio's zoning proposals, Silva-Farrell said the idea of civil disobedience is still on the table and "could happen as early as next week if necessary."