inclusionary zoning chief among them, and the mayor
vowed to pursue as many as possible.
Shortly thereafter, Murray announced that a “grand
bargain” had been reached among the city, housing advocates and developers. For the first time, the city would
require all new commercial and multifamily residential developers either to include 5 to 7 percent of units
affordable to 60 percent of median income or pay into
a housing fund, with a goal of creating 6,000 units over
10 years. In return, the city would “upzone” 16 percent of
the city — including downtown and all of the areas
percent, according to a New York University study, and
he vowed to address it. In March, after long and often
contentious debates, the New York City Council approved
his Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program. With a
goal to preserve or build 200,000 units of below-mar-
ket-rate housing by 2025, it almost certainly is the most
aggressive such effort to date.
The key to the plan — and its salient feature — is a prom-
ise to rezone neighborhoods throughout the city to allow
increased density and height limits. The city also will offer
low-interest financing and tax advantages to further sub-
sidize permanently affordable units. In exchange, projects
requiring a land use action have two basic options:
• Set aside 25 percent of units for those making 60 per-
cent of area median income ($47,000 for a family of
three), with a further 10 percent for those making 40
percent or less ($31,000), or
• Offer 30 percent to those making 80 percent or less
of median income, or $62,000 for a family of three.
The city also has the discretion to offer two other options,
one aimed at creating more units for the lowest incomes,
and another going as high as 115 percent of median income.
As it works through rezoning plans for 15 areas, the city
also plans to offer those neighborhoods greater investment
in infrastructure and amenities. In the East New York
section of Brooklyn, city officials have vowed to beautify streets, build schools, improve parks and make other
moves to improve livability as new construction arrives.
Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda
Seattle, home to a tech boom driven by Amazon and
fueled with refugees from its pricey counterpart by the San
Francisco Bay, has been among the five fastest growing
big cities since the recovery began. The influx of above-average incomes has helped drive rents and house prices
skyward, despite — some would say because of — frenetic construction seemingly everywhere.
Worried that the city was “losing its soul”, as a New York
Times article put it, Mayor Ed Murray in 2014 convened a 28-member panel of for-profit and nonprofit
developers, housing experts and other stakeholders to
plan a counter-attack. Ten months later, the committee
produced a Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda
(HALA) with 65 aggressive recommendations, mandatory
The key to the plan is a promise
to rezone neighborhoods
throughout the city to allow
increased density and height limits.
Photo by Catherine Bassetti
Courtesy of State Farm