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Leading Critics of De Blasio's Rezoning Plan Endorse Proposal

By Jeff Mays | March 13, 2016 1:01pm
 Mayor Bill de Blasio rallied outside of City Hall with the AARP and union supporters and called on the City Council to pass his rezoning plans.
Mayor Bill de Blasio rallied outside of City Hall with the AARP and union supporters and called on the City Council to pass his rezoning plans.
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DNAinfo/Jeff Mays

HARLEM — A coalition of advocacy groups that had opposed Mayor Bill de Blasio's affordable housing rezoning plans on Sunday endorsed the proposals after City Hall agreed to conduct a study to find a way to get to deeper levels of affordability, the main sticking point in negotiations.

Real Affordability for All, a coalition of advocacy groups, had threatened to conduct acts of civil disobedience if the mayor's rezoning proposals didn't make new housing more affordable to lower-income New Yorkers.

“As community organizers and advocates, our job has been to push hard and raise our voices for the real affordability and good jobs that low-income New Yorkers so desperately need," Maritza Silva-Farrell, campaign director of Real Affordability for All, said in a statement.

"We know Mayor de Blasio shares our core progressive values, and he has listened to our concerns," she added. "That's why we support this stronger, more robust affordable housing plan, along with the administration's commitment to do a study that will examine mechanisms for achieving even deeper affordability and job standards in new housing."

READ MORE: Here's What You Need to Know About the Mayor's Citywide Rezoning Plan

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 area median income, or AMI. That amounts to an income of $46,620 for a family of three.

Another option calls for 30 percent of housing to be affordable for those making 80 percent AMI or $62,150 for a family of three. Real Affordability for All wants 30 percent of new housing to be affordable to those making 30 percent of AMI.


"We welcome this support, and look forward to working with communities across the city to identify even more tools to reach New Yorkers with quality jobs and affordable housing," de Blasio spokesman Wiley Norvell said in a statement.

It's unclear who would conduct the study or what the cost would be to taxpayers, but Silva-Farrell said groups from her coalition hoped to be involved.

The City Planning Commission approved the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing zoning changes and also Zoning for Quality and Affordability, another de Blasio zoning proposal, 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.

Real Affordability for All canceled planned acts of civil disobedience in front of City Hall last week because it said there had been some progress toward their goals.

Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams, who is involved with negotiations, said last week that "having civil disobedience on the table helped us to get to where we are now."

Real Affordability for All believes de Blasio can get developers to build more affordable apartments in certain neighborhoods by using density as a bargaining chip.

"There are neighborhoods in city with a median income of $25,000 to $30,000 that should be the definition  of affordability," Silva-Farrell said.

The study will also look at ways to enforce better job standards. Union groups that are part of Real Affordability for All have called for the city to mandate that union workers be used on the construction projects under the zoning proposals.

The City Council is expected to vote on the zoning plans at the end of the month. The study won't happen until after de Blasio reaches an agreement with the City Council.

"Whatever happens with Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, we will get another tool that will help for future rezonings and help the way we rezone for years to come," Silva-Farrell said.