Funding Affordable Housing: A Priority for All New Yorkers
By Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
New Yorkers desperately need more affordable housing. Too many families are cramped into apartments that are too small, and pay rents that eat up far too much of their income. New Yorkers also deserve a City government that keeps its word. And now our Administration aims to substantially increase affordable housing by honoring a longstanding promise to the people of our city.
We're proposing to set up the largest housing trust fund in the nation. It will dedicate $130 million over the next four years to developing and preserving affordable housing. That's over and above the $3 billion our Administration has already committed to creating affordable housing. The housing trust fund would allow us to add 3,000 more apartments and houses to our already-existing goal of creating and preserving 65,000 units of affordable housing for more than 200,000 people in all five boroughs by the end of 2008.
This trust fund would derive from money paid to the City by the Battery Park City Authority, or BPCA, which is responsible for developing and managing Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan. Back in 1989, the City and the BPCA agreed that this money would be used to develop housing throughout the city. But in practice, over the years most of these funds have gone for other purposes.
Now, in cooperation with City Comptroller Bill Thompson, Jr., our Administration has come up with a plan to finally spend this money the way it's supposed to be used: to create affordable housing for New Yorkers. Establishing the housing trust fund will also require approval from the BPCA-and we're confident that will happen.
Once it's in place, the housing trust fund would be used for three main purposes. First, it would subsidize apartments for low-income New Yorkers who don't benefit from existing programs; this would greatly increase our ability to create housing for the formerly homeless. Second, we'd use the trust fund to acquire and repair existing housing, often in bulk and at discounted prices. And third, we would use this money to obtain and prepare land now for building housing later; think of it as investing in a real estate "bank account" for affordable housing in the future.
All of this will add significantly to our Administration's affordable housing efforts-already the largest affordable housing program New Yorkers have seen in two decades. Over the last two years alone, we've already started the ball rolling on developing more than 26,000 affordable houses and apartments throughout the city. The housing trust fund would let us do even more. And that's great news for New Yorkers. Because good, affordable housing in safe, stable neighborhoods is fundamental to building a city of opportunity for everyone.