Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio released “Housing New York,” a 10-year, 5-borough plan to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing in New York City.

“The plan announced today is an important milestone on the road to a more just and equitable city where New Yorkers in every neighborhood will benefit from the opportunities that affordable housing creates. We look forward to continuing our work with Mayor de Blasio to promote and protect affordable and sustainable homeownership in New York City,” said Christie Peale, our Executive Director (read the full press release here).

Homeownership programs played a major role in the previous administration’s housing plan and we applaud the de Blasio administration for their commitment to homeownership in the new plan. Affordable homeownership is a key ingredient to a long-term affordable housing strategy in New York City, where over 1 million households own their own homes. Almost one-third of NYC homeowners earn less than $50,000 per year. And these homeowners, in turn, create even more affordable housing–with more than a quarter-million small property owners renting out apartments.

We look forward to continuing to work with the City to preserve this naturally occurring affordable housing. In particular, we’d like to thank Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and HPD Commissioner Vicki Been for their continued commitment to low- and moderate-income homeowners across New York City.

“Housing New York” lays out many strategies and programs that are squarely in line with the vision we and our network of community-based non-profits share for the future of New York City housing. Below are several highlights from the plan that intersect with our work:

  • Support for foreclosure prevention activities: The City has been at the forefront in terms of deploying resources to prevent foreclosures, including foreclosure prevention counseling and legal services at the neighborhood level. Preventing foreclosures is essential to preserving naturally occurring affordable housing and maintaining neighborhood stability. The “Housing New York” plan reaffirms the City’s support for these critical, home-saving services.
  • Combat predatory practices targeted at homeowners and homebuyers: More than five years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, tens of thousands of New Yorkers continue to suffer from the effects of the foreclosure crisis. The reckless and predatory lending that caused the financial crisis disproportionately harmed New York City’s communities of color. Today, foreclosure rescue scams targeted at homeowners are on the rise, continuing to put homeowners at risk. Predatory practices targeted at homeowners and homebuyers require a concerted approach from the City and we strongly support the housing plan’s call to support those efforts.
  • Foster resiliency and lower flood insurance premiums in our coastal communities: Rebuilding following Hurricane Sandy, while making our city more resilient to future extreme weather events, is a major priority of the Center’s. Preserving affordability in our coastal communities is especially important because they are home to many low- and moderate-income homeowners. Unfortunately, rising flood insurance premiums threaten the ability of these homeowners to stay in their homes and communities. The “Housing New York” plan makes several key recommendations in this area. It calls for the City to ensure that federal regulations allow flood mitigation methods suitable for New York’s urban coastal communities, and to support educational efforts to make homeowners aware of these changes. Additionally, it calls for the exploration of a new loan program to assist low-, moderate-, and middle-income owners with resiliency upgrades. We applaud the plan’s commitment to fostering resiliency and working to keep flood insurance premiums affordable.
  • Explore cost effective approaches to address conditions in informal dwelling units: Tens of thousands of New Yorkers call informal dwelling units (such as basement and above-garage units) home. As a member of the BASE campaign, we support the conversion of these units into legal dwelling units when it is safe for tenants to do so. This initiative would also strengthen the housing stability of homeowners, who would be able to derive predictable, legal rental income from these units. Therefore, we are pleased to see the housing plan’s commitment to developing methods for bringing these units into the regulated housing system.
  • Increase affordable homeownership opportunities: The “Housing New York” plan calls for creating new opportunities for affordable homeownership through a variety of new programs, including the New Infill Homeownership Opportunities Program, which would work with small developers and local CDCs to purchase City-owned land and construct one- to four-family homes, cooperatives, or condominiums. The plan also pledges continued support for creating new affordable homeownership opportunities through the Real Estate Owned Program, in which a third party acquires and rehabilitates bank-foreclosed homes. Finally, it calls for creating a New York City land bank to create long-term affordable development opportunities. These affordable homeownership programs are essential to providing vital asset-building opportunities for low- and moderate-income households in NYC, and we commend the de Blasio administration for including these programs in the housing plan.

You can read Mayor de Blasio’s “Housing New York” plan in full here.