Housing proponents argue that Mayor Eric Adams’ plans to spend $22 billion over the next decade to maintain and build affordable housing in New York City are not enough to address the city’s housing crisis and are lagging far behind. at what he promised last year during his mayoral campaign .
Adams presented his executive budget on Tuesday, saying he has added another $5 billion to the original $17 billion he proposed in his preliminary budget presented in February. The amount would increase total housing investment spending from an average of $2 billion per year to about $2.5 billion over the next four years.
Still, the New York Housing Conference (NYHC), an advocacy and policy group for affordable housing, said it’s far less than the $4 billion a year Adams pledged when he was a candidate vying for mayor of New York City.
“It just isn’t enough,” said Brendan Cheney, the group’s director of policy and communications. “It won’t stand in the way of us much more affordable housing production beyond what is already planned.”
During the mayoral campaign, NYHC gathered more than 90 organizations with expertise in housing, homelessness, real estate and finance to develop a housing plan. The coalition promoted candidates who pledged to invest $4 billion a year in affordable housing, including money to restore the city’s public housing stock and reduce and prevent homelessness.
Adams was one of the mayoral candidates who voted in favor of the pledge and signed the blueprint developed by the coalition, which calls itself United for Housing.
Charles Lutvak, a spokesman for the mayor, declined to comment, referring to comments Adams made Tuesday at a news conference shortly after he released his executive budget.
“We are now at the highest level and we will continue to work with our housing attorneys to get this right,” Adams said.
Mayor Adams unveiled his $99.7 billion executive budget, his first, at Brooklyn’s lavish Kings Theater. The venue was originally chosen for his inauguration which he canceled in January due to concerns about the rise of COVID-19 infections caused by the ommicron variant.
In front of an audience of supporters, Adams highlighted several spending priorities, including an additional $177 million for homeless services to create 1,400 Safe Haven beds designed to bring homeless people from the streets in.
The pandemic exacerbated a housing crisis that began long before the virus was first detected in New York City in 2020. In 2019, on any given night, 78,600 homeless people lived in the city’s shelters, 59% more than in 2009, according to United for the housing plan. The city’s public housing agency, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), provides housing for more than 400,000 low- and middle-income residents and needs $40 billion to repair and restore its buildings and apartments, according to a report from 2021 from United for Living.
Under Bill de Blasio’s administration, the city produced about 9,000 to 10,000 new affordable homes a year and saved another 19,000 to 20,000 affordable homes a year, NYHC’s Cheney said. He added that the $2.5 billion a year in capital spending on affordable housing that Adams proposed will allow the city to produce the same level of affordable housing, but will not help the city generate additional housing, which he believes is the key to solving the housing problem. affordability in the city.
“Under this status quo, affordable housing will be produced. But we’re going to maintain this unacceptable status quo, an ongoing housing crisis with a lot of homelessness, a lot of people paying more than they can afford in their rent, and housing crises,” Cheney said.
Mayor Adams’ investment plan for NYCHA maintains existing financial commitments, NYHC said.
Not all members of the United for Housing coalition are critical of Mayor Adams going back on his campaign promise.
James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the real estate industry lobbying arm that has seen Adams as an industry ally, said the group is “happy” with the increased capital spending that Adams is proposing but said that the city will need many more housing outside public units to keep up with population and job growth.
Addressing this crisis fully requires increased action at both the city and state levels, particularly to promote policies that reflect the vital role the private sector must play in producing the approximately 560,000 new homes that will be built by 2030. across the city,” Whelan said in a statement. a statement.
The New York City Council set its own priorities in March, including $4 billion a year in capital spending on affordable housing that advocates want.
Speaker Adrienne Adams, who represents Southeast Queens, said on Thursday she believes the council wants to spend more on housing than the $22 billion the mayor proposed in a decade.
“We are still trying to climb out of this pandemic,” Chairman Adams said shortly before calling a council meeting. “People are sleeping in the trains, people are still living in encampments. We try, you know, to make their lives a lot better. We cannot do that without housing.”
The two branches of the city government will negotiate and decide how to spend taxpayers’ money in the coming years.
The city has until June 30 to approve a final budget.