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  October 17, 2004

Moving Forward: An Update on Our Future
By Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

Every New Yorker deserves a good home in a community that offers security, opportunity, and hope. That's why our Administration is moving ahead with the "New Housing Marketplace," the biggest affordable housing initiative that New York City has seen in two decades. Its aim is to finance the construction or rehabilitation of 65,000 units of affordable housing-enough for 200,000 New Yorkers-by the end of 2008. We launched this initiative nearly two years ago, and right now, we're on course to meet our objectives. By the middle of next year, work will be completed or underway on 26,000 affordable houses and apartments; that will put us 40% of the way to our goal.

And last week, the New Housing Marketplace got a big boost from one of the nation's largest funders of affordable housing, the non-profit Enterprise Foundation. They have committed $1 billion to maintaining and creating 15,000 units of affordable housing in our city over the next five years. About $200 million of these funds will be used to help preserve existing affordable housing. For example, some will go to protect the homes of low-income seniors who are especially vulnerable to the upward push on rents in New York's hot housing market. The balance of this new money will help finance construction of new housing.

This represents a strong vote of confidence in New York. It also shows that the "New Housing Marketplace" strategy for encouraging private and non-profit housing development is working. It has involved investing $3 billion in City funding to prime the housing pump. More importantly, we've found new tools to encourage the construction of affordable housing. New zoning methods, for example, will ensure that much of the housing going up in former industrial and waterfront areas is priced for low- and moderate-income households. We've identified underutilized City-owned property where 7,000 units of affordable housing will be built. And we've brought seven of our city's largest banks together to create a fund that helps housing developers acquire land on former industrial brownfields and other sites.

One of the great things about the New Housing Marketplace is that you can see it taking shape right in front of your eyes. In about three weeks, for example, the first building in a 700-unit mixed-income housing and commercial development on Chrystie Street on the Lower East Side will be topped off. And in Bushwick, families have already started to move in to Rheingold Gardens, a 250-unit affordable housing development built on a long-abandoned brewery site.

With the Yankees battling to get into this week's World Series, it's a good time to recall the 1977 fall classic, when television cameras showed a house being consumed in flames not far from Yankee Stadium, and announcer Howard Cosell told a national audience, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning." It was a bleak picture in a disheartening time-and now it's a rapidly fading memory. Because today the Bronx-and the other four boroughs, too-are building the affordable housing that New Yorkers need.