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Transcript: Mayor Adams Delivers Address on Future of Housing in NYC and Holds In-Person Media Availability

September 21, 2023

Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, Housing, Economic Development and Workforce: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center. Let's please hear it for CUNY and for BMCC for graciously hosting us on this important day. 

Before we get started, I wanted to acknowledge so many partners in government; in particular, our partners in elected office: Assemblymember Rajkumar, Assemblymember Bores, Assemblymember Taylor, Councilmember Powers, Councilmember Sanchez, Councilmember Yeager, State Senator Kavanagh, State Senator Sepúlveda, Borough President Reynoso, Borough President Levine and Assemblymember Rosenthal. A round of applause, please, for our partners. 

You know, I have always believed that New York City, it's built on a promise. A promise that regardless of who you are or where you come from, you can dream here, you could make a life here, you can make a difference here. It's a promise that continues to bring so many people to our city to live and to work, to build community, to start a family. And it's what makes this city so dynamic: an economic and cultural powerhouse, a capital of science, and of the arts, of education and innovation. 

Now, the future of New York City, it's incredibly bright. But if there is one thing that threatens it all, it is the ever rising cost of living here. The root cause of our housing crisis, it's simple: millions of people want to live and work here, but for decades we have not built enough homes for them. 

And the result is a profound housing shortage, which leaves New Yorkers competing against each other for housing that is in scarce supply. For families on the margins, too many are priced out of the apartments they can afford; and so for them and for many others, the promise of this great city feels too out of reach. And we've been stuck in this vicious cycle for too long: ever climbing rents, more and more housing instability, more and more tenants at the mercy of landlords. 

But when we add housing, the power shifts. Tenants have room to negotiate, landlords compete for tenants and fight to attract them on cost and quality. It should be no surprise, then, that the cities that are doing the best at controlling housing costs are the ones that are meaningfully adding new housing: Minneapolis, for example, whose city council overwhelmingly adopted rules to enable new housing, has seen average rents fall by more than 20 percent since 2017. And the cities that are doing the worst on housing costs, by contrast, are the ones that don't build enough, New York included. 

Now that wasn't always the case. Brick by brick, generations of immigrants and working people built this city from the ground up. During the 1920s, for example, the city built 750,000 new homes. That's more than three times the number of homes built over the past 10 years. 

So, why did we lose so much ground? It's because over time we created rules to prevent new housing, and production slowed to a crawl. Now, some of those rules, they were well intentioned but are outdated; and others, make no mistake, were purpose built to exclude working people and people of color. 

And so it is long passed time that we dismantled zoning rules written by people who could not even fathom a Black mayor, a Black speaker and a majority woman City Council. 

Our challenge as the city is indeed profound, but here's the good news: the good news is that because our city made these choices, we can un make them. And so, when Mayor Eric Adams took office, he charged the entire team with building a plan that meets the scale of this crisis; and today, we're unveiling perhaps the most important piece of that plan. 

It's a plan that calls on each and every one of you into this room into action. It's a plan that is made possible because of the leadership and the vision and the conviction and the faith of the person that I now have the honor of introducing. So, please join me in welcoming the 110th mayor of New York City, Mayor Eric Adams. 

Mayor Eric Adams: You know, as I was listening to the amazing Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, I just couldn't help but to just reflect on this team that we have assembled: First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright, Chief Advisor Ingrid Lewis-Martin, my chief of staff, Camille Joseph-Varlack, Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom. And what gets us in trouble often — Deputy Mayor Ana Amazar — what gets us in trouble is just that we're straight up New Yorkers. 

You know, we got that New York attitude. We don't try to search around to, you know, be creative when we have a problem, we're just going to communicate it. These are authentic New Yorkers, authentic New Yorkers. And there have been some great administrations with some great people work in government, but I don't know of a greater team of people that just came up the hard way and are willing to do this work in a real way. We're not going to always get it right, folks. You know?  We're perfectly imperfect. But damn it, we're dedicated. We're dedicated. 

And so to my fellow New Yorkers, let me take you back to the year 1961. New York City was a different place then. A young Bob Dylan was playing guitar at Café Wha? Aretha Franklin put out her debut album, and the New York Yankees were winning big, defeated the Cincinnati Reds to win their 19th World Series. Living in New York City was different then, too. You could rent a three and a half room apartment in Manhattan for $95 a month; or, an air conditioned studio with a fireplace in the West Village for $110. It was a different time. It was so far away from how we live and work now, as those days were from the days of top hats and horse drawn carriages. 

But for all the things that have changed in six long decades, there's one thing that has barely changed since 1961: New York city's zoning laws. The 1961 Zoning Resolution drastically changed the way our city would build housing and office space for decades to come, and those changes were not for the better. We can never lose sight of the fact that many, those who pushed for the 1961 Zoning Code aimed to promote, as the Deputy Mayor stated, segregation. In addition to that injustice, the 1961 code prioritized highways and cars over housing and mass transit, and limited growth rather than encouraging it — ultimately, leading to a massive housing shortage, one that we are still reckoning with 62 years later. 

So many of the issues we face as a city are rooted in this ongoing crisis: a housing shortage that has forced so many people to leave this great city and making life increasingly difficult for those who stay. Everybody has a story. The would be homeowners outbid by cash buyers or a private equity firm; the firefighter who cannot afford to live in the neighborhood he serves; the older New Yorker who has spent a lifetime in the family business only to find herself unable to pay rent on a fixed income; the new parents who cannot afford a big enough apartments to raise their family; and, the asylum seekers who have journeyed so far from home to make a better life for themselves and their children. 

In the 62 years since the zoning resolution was passed, we have added layer upon layer of regulations to that 1961 code, effectively outlawing the kinds of housing that our city has long relied on, buildings so many of us have lived in, buildings so many of us grew up in. 40 percent of the buildings in Manhattan would be illegal to build today, 40 percent. If we are going to keep New York City a city for all where working people, immigrants and young people can thrive, we cannot let a choice our city made six decades ago determine what we do now. We must change the restrictive laws that were put in place 62 years ago. We must do it now, because the future of the house in the future of New York City are tied together. 

Today we are proposing the most ambitious changes to zoning in the history of New York City, changes that will finally end exclusionary zoning, cut red tape and transform our city from the ground up. This is not tinkering around the edges. This is a ground breaking — literally— by rewriting the wrongs of history. 

This plan will allow us to build a little more housing in every neighborhood, incentivize affordable housing, build more housing near transit hubs, convert unused office space into apartments, renew our commercial corridors, help small homeowners to build better...use better spaces on their property; and finally, prioritizing people over parking. 

Earlier in this administration we set a moonshot goal with the leadership of Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer of creating 500,000 new units of housing in our city over the next decade. But to get to the moon, we would need to change a few things here on earth. 

Today we're proposing a slate of new rules that if passed by our city council remove long standing barriers to opportunity and usher in a new golden age of housing in New York City. These are major transformational changes that virtually every housing expert and city planner agree on, changes that have been championed by advocates and covered by national media outlets from The Wall Street journal to The New York Times, changes that past administration refuse to prioritize. 

Where do we begin?  It's simple. We have to build more housing. More homes, more apartments, more development. Cities from Tokyo to Minneapolis are keeping housing costs down by increasing the supply of housing. How are we allowing Tokyo to do things better than us? And there's broad and strong support for this bold new way of building housing across America, but New York City must lead the way. 

Our administration has already done important things to combat the housing crisis. In fiscal year 2023, we created the second most new affordable homes in one year and launched a moonshot plan to get stuff built, produce the most new supportive homes and homes for formerly homeless New Yorkers ever in this city's history and connected more New Yorkers to permanent homes with CityFHEPS housing vouchers than ever in the program's history. 

Programs we have championed have helped families like Elijah and Jenny's as we saw in the video, and we are delivering relief to families now. But we must plan for a future of more housing for more New Yorkers. The changes we are proposing would do more than just add new buildings, they will push developers to build the kinds of houses so many New Yorkers want: modern apartment buildings, beautiful brownstones and affordable condos, all in mixed use neighborhoods with multiple transit options. 

This is the New York City we love, the iconic mix of people, places and experiences that have defined life in our city for generations. We know that the laws we are talking about changing have been in place for so long that some will have deep concerns about changing them. I hear you. I get you. I understand you. 

New York City small property owners have a lot invested in their homes, I'm one of them. And everyone is concerned about the impacts of these changes on parking, transit and traffic. But what we are proposing would benefit virtually every neighborhood and every New Yorker, making it easier to live, work and get around smoothly and safely. This is what the City of Yes looks like: every neighborhood, yes to more density, flexibility and sustainability. Yes to an urban future that will be more inclusive and not just for some but for all. 

Here's the plan that will give us there. First let's start with affordable housing. We need to open up every part of this city to working people, including neighborhoods in Manhattan that have lost so much affordable housing over the last few decades. Our housing production in New York has not kept up with our job growth. In the past decade, we created 800,000 jobs but only 200,000 new homes. The effects of that shortage are not hypothetical, they are real. 

Half of all New Yorkers to date are rent burdened, which means that they spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent; and in some communities, that number is even higher. Too many New Yorkers struggle with rent, and far too many New Yorkers are at risk of poverty and homelessness. 

Affordable housing is what we need, and increasing density can help us get there. In our existing high density neighborhoods, we are going to allow buildings to get 20 percent bigger if and only if they use the new space to deliver permanent affordable housing. Permanent affordable housing. 

Under this policy, the rules for market development would not change, but we will get more affordable housing. We will also cut back limitation on small and shared units. Our rules should not limit the development of buildings with shared kitchens and bathrooms or studio apartments. This kind of housing used to be all over New York City. It allowed so many people to move here and make a brand new start of it. 

And it allowed people like me to stay in the city I grew up in, the city I love, the city I protected. I remember my first apartment. As a young man, a one bedroom apartment in Midwood, and how much it meant to me to turn that key in the door for the first time and walk in. The key to my first apartment, the key to my future. That kind of housing appeals to young people just starting their careers, immigrants arriving in search of the American dream, or even seniors who want to downsize, and it's time we brought it back. 

Second, our proposal will legalize the types of modestly sized apartment buildings that the current zoning laws have made so difficult to build, bringing back the kind of mixed use developments that define so many neighborhoods so many of us know and love. By allowing two, three or even four stories of housing above commercial spaces, we will bolster the kinds of main streets that already anchor so many of our communities, places where we can stroll, shop and dine as well as commute to our places of work. 

These kinds of neighborhoods are not just good for those who live there, they support local businesses, too. That is how changing something as simple as zoning can result in a more livable city for all of us. 

The third, we will put public transportation at the center of our approach to housing by building more apartments within walking distance of our transit system. This is the way so many New Yorkers want to live, in walkable neighborhoods with great amenities, food and transit options. These are the kinds of neighborhoods that are not only attractive to tenants and buyers, there are essential to building the city of the future. 

Just this week we saw a major protest demanding actions on climate, and one way we can do that is by building cities where so many of us can enjoy a high quality lifestyle combined with a low carbon footprint. Changing zoning may not sound dramatic, but it is one of the most realistic ways that we can lower emissions across the board. 

Fourth. This plan would eliminate barriers to create new housing on existing campuses like ones at Mitchell-Lama developments, NYCHA or faith based institutions. Under our existing rules, many of these institutions are prevented from developing new buildings on their unused land. We must allow them to create housing and establish new revenue streams for their organizations. That includes campuses owned by faith based organizations. We want the chance to house those in need from the surrounding community, as we saw in the video with Reverend Bachus. There's a great deal of opportunity here to create new housing by saying yes in God's backyard, and we want to prepare the way. 

Fifth. You heard me say this over and over again. Let's make it easier to transform empty office space into available and accessible housing. This is a clear win-win, but our own rules are getting in the way. Right now, you can only turn an office building into housing if it is in a specific neighborhood or it was built before 1961. We are going to spend that year of eligibility to 1990 and apply it city wide to ensure that more empty office [space] is qualified for this program. This would allow empty offices from Manhattan and midtown to the Bronx hub to be converted into new housing that would keep our neighborhoods vibrant and dynamic. 

Sixth. In addition to offering renters more options, we're going to give homeowners more flexibility to use their own property as they wish. All across America, cities and states have dramatically expanded their housing supply by legalizing backyard cottages, converted garages and basement apartments. Under our proposed rules, New Yorkers would be able to do the same. This will let homeowners create new spaces to help seniors age in place, give young people an opportunity to live closer to home, provide a place for mom and dad to stay when they visit, or even help more New Yorkers generate the income they need. 

And last but definitely not least, we're going to create housing for New Yorkers, not cars. As unbelievable as it may seem, New York City's zoning rules mandate off street parking spots as a part of new housing, and parking in buildings where it is offered is usually too expensive and out of reach for most of the residents living there. Most of these garage or parking spaces come with high monthly fees that cost as much as a second rent. This makes no sense in a city where the majority of residents do not own a car, especially at a time when we are looking to reduce emission and support the nation's largest public transit system. 

Our administration has never been afraid to make big changes for the common good, and this will be one of the biggest. Our new rules will eliminate parking mandates for new housing across New York City and dramatically expand the options for adding more homes across the board. 

Right now, every two parking spots that are added to a new building take up a space for one studio apartment, making housing more expensive for everyone. If you want to build parking spots, you still can, but we will not force people to build parking they do not want. We are going to let the market decide how much parking New Yorkers are willing to pay for, all while driving down the cost of new housing. 

These changes will encourage more housing, help more people afford rent and turn the five boroughs into a City of Yes. But we cannot do this alone. We need Albany's help to maximize affordability. Without a replacement tax incentive for 421a which delivers rent stabilized affordable housing construction, fewer units will get built. The antiquated 12 FAR cap which caps how much housing we can build on sites in New York City will continue to hold us back, and offices that are able to convert to housing will remain vacant without the proper incentives. 

During the last session in Albany, our hopes of a grand bargain on housing did not come to fruition. We may not have made the progress New Yorkers deserve in the last session, but as a former state senator, I know a thing or two about Albany, and I know there is a deal to be had. Let's get it done. Let's get it done. 

But New Yorkers, while we need Albany's assistance in the long run, what we are proposing today is entirely within the power of New York City. That is why we need our friends on the city council to join us in this effort to make housing more affordable and more available. Passing these new rules will help us create an additional 100,000 new homes on top of our current housing projection. That is enough new homes for a quarter of a million New Yorkers, almost the same number of people who live in Buffalo; and on top of that, this proposal will create 250,000 family sustaining jobs. 

Next week, the Department of City Planning will begin the process to advance this proposal; and with your support, these changes will be in effect by next fall. We look forward to working with New Yorkers, housing advocates, community leaders, elected officials and our brothers or sisters in labor unions to help this become a reality. 

The thousands of new apartments we're talking about do more than house New Yorkers and create new jobs, they would keep New York City the economic and cultural capital of the world. If we want to remain the beacon of freedom and idealism, we must be a city where we can build the housing we need: housing for young people, growing families, immigrants, veterans, students, housing for people with disabilities or mobility issues, housing for New Yorkers aging in place, housing for New Yorkers from every walk of life and every generation. 

If we do this right, decades from now New Yorkers will see this moment for what it is: a turning point away from exclusionary policies and outdated ideas and towards a brighter, bolder and more equitable future. It will be the moment when we came together and decided to be the City of Yes. 

And that moment is not yesteryear's, that moment is now. Housing is so crucial. As I say on so many issues that are important like employment, housing is a precursor to sleep that allows us to experience the American dream. And the fear that I see in the face of New Yorkers every day with the certainty if they know they're going to have their homes or not, it breaks my heart when I hear people say don't build on their block or in their neighborhood. 

We cannot have a city where the shelter system is how we are defined. We must put people in housing so they can sit around coffee tables and plan college tuition, so they could talk about their lives and their future, plan weddings, and talk about the good times and bad times, sit among the TV together, enjoy family time. 

We have to do this, New York. I don't know where I would be if my mother was not able to have that little small house that eventually became a home. My little apartment gave me the stepping stone that I needed. So many people need that stepping stone. This is a difficult road that we're on, but I know this city. We're made up of the best stuff on earth. We're New Yorkers. Let's get this done. 


Mayor Adams: Before we go into Q&A on this amazing project looking at zoning in our city, I want to both thank Dan and Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, and they're going to go over some of their points, we want to go over the announcement that was made last night based on TPS. 

Our administration, we've spent the last few months asking for work authorization, particularly through TPS, which is considered Temporary Protected Status. We really heard the announcement from the White House last night. I spoke with White House Chief of Staff, and we really want to thank President Biden for hearing our call. 

We want to thank the congressional delegation. I met with Congressman Jeffries last week, I believe it was, and he clearly understood the urgency of it. Congressman Espaillat met with the Hispanic Congressional Delegation. I was communicating repeatedly with Senator Schumer and all of our partners, our union members, our faith based institutions, the advocates for immigrants throughout the city and many of our elected officials. 

There was a clear call coming from New York City about work authorization, and I want to thank the White House for hearing us, by extending protected status to Venezuelan asylum seekers here before July 31st, 2023. That announcement was well received by us. We can begin the process of allowing the seekers to become job seekers    from asylum seekers to job seekers. 

And every time I speak with asylum seekers, that's all they ask for. They've been asking, they want to work, they want to contribute to the American experience and American dream. We've traveled so far and there's so much more we want to do, so I want to thank everyone that was involved. 

What we do want to make clear that we have clarity on how this impacts New York City, so I just want to go over some very clear numbers so we can have some accurate reporting, because I think there was a lack of clarity on the numbers, so I want Fabien, Deputy Mayor of Communication, to write down some of these numbers so you can get the accurate number and count. 

We don't want to prematurely spike the ball. We want to make sure that we're moving in the right direction to deal with this humanitarian crisis that we're facing. We have approximately 60,000 total asylum seekers in our care, approximately 60,000. Three quarters are not eligible for the announcement that was made last night, so that's 60,000, that's minus 45,000. 

We have, about, approximately 15,000 that are eligible. Out of the 15,000, 5,500 can't work in the city because they're under the age that they can, or they're under 18 years old. We're not going to have four year olds going to do a job in the city. And so 5,500 are not eligible, so that leaves us a total of 9,500 out of the 60,000 that are eligible to apply for the work authorization. In addition to that, we are getting 10,000 a month. We're getting 10,000 a month that are coming into this city. So, more than three quarters of the asylum seekers still in our care wouldn't qualify for last night's announcement. 

So, this is the number we're talking about: 60,000 in, 10,000 a month, 9,500 are qualified for it. Those who are coming in now won't fit the qualification. And so this was important, because I'll take this. That's 9,500 people I don't have to find housing. I'll take it. But I'm getting 10,000 a month, and a substantial number are still in our care today. And so we can't spike the ball, we need to be clear on that. 

We want to continue to work with the White House, we want to continue to work with our congressional delegation and our unions and advocates to deal with this crisis. So, I think all of you saw that there's a real spike at the border and there's a clear mental pathway that many people believe the answer to this crisis is New York City. It's not sustainable. It's not sustainable. 

So, we should be commended for the announcement that was made last night for these 9,500, and now we must deal with this 45,000 that remain and the 10,000 that we are getting every month so that we do not financially harm this city. So, I just wanted to make sure we got clarity, because we received a lot of mixed communications last night. People were given numbers, but we wanted to make sure that people got the accurate number of people who are here and who would benefit from the announcement that was made last night. 

And this really goes into the imperativeness of what we announced today around the housing crisis that we are facing, because if we do not continue to house New Yorkers, we are going to be unable to address the housing crisis we are facing for long term New Yorkers as well as new arrivals in the city. 

And I really want to thank Dan Garodnick, the director of the Department of City Planning for just really using his expertise from being a former councilman in this area and thinking bold here. One assignment: go in and be bold. Be bold. And he stepped up to that assignment. And First Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer who came to us with the moonshot of 500,000 units of housing. We were honest with ourselves, we have to build more. And I think the two of them with their team came up with a proposal that we're looking to get our partnership with the city council and our state lawmakers to finally start addressing some of the sins of the past that are now being carried down to the children of today. So, we'll open it up to some questions that we could answer. 

Question: Yes. Mr. Mayor, when you talk about 20 percent: bigger buildings, bigger how? Taller? And is there a cap on how many floors or stories? Or are we talking about more super tall buildings? 

Dan Garodnick, Director, Department of City Planning: So, this would be applicable in medium to high density areas in New York City in zoning R6 to R10 districts. Today we have a density bonus program that applies exclusively for senior affordable housing, so you are entitled to get roughly a 20 percent bonus if you provide permanent affordable housing for seniors. So, we are looking here to expand the eligibility of that program beyond senior affordable and include all types of affordable housing and supportive housing. 

We also know there are parts of the R6 to R10 districts that today do not enjoy that bonus for senior affordable, we want to provide it there. So, to the extent that there are limits in existing districts, we're taking a look at that, but this is roughly going to be a 20 percent density bonus, so the development rights that you have would be enhanced and for the benefit of permanent affordable housing. 

Question: Are you talking about area wise? 

Garodnick: Yes, it's within your development rights, so within the envelope that you own you have a certain amount of development rights today. We would enhance that exclusively for the benefit of permanent affordable and supportive housing. 

Question: So, the density bonus is in exchange for affordable housing. So, what constitutes affordable housing? What are the income levels? 

Garodnick: Thank you. So today, this would essentially function as a voluntary inclusionary housing program in all of our medium and high density districts. Today, the AMI levels for that are at 80 AMI. We are looking at those levels now, we believe we can do better than that as part of this universal affordability preference. And we are going to be discussing that level with our partners in the council and thinking about that through this process. The process is just beginning. We're starting our environmental review on September 26th, and we're going to be looking at that through this process. 

Question: Do you have an ideal level that… 

Garodnick: We're just starting that process now. We believe that we can and should do better than the current 80 percent AMI level. 

Mayor Adams: And we also want to, keep in mind, because we hear that question often. Working class new Yorkers are struggling. The teacher and that accountant with, you know, three children, they're struggling. Low income New Yorkers that… A husband wife that works for a fast food chain that is, because we fought and got an increase in the minimum wage, they are struggling. 

And so we have to find housing for all New Yorkers and we're going to be extremely thoughtful on how we're doing it. But the working class people are struggling in the city, and we don't want to lose them and have them leave the city because they could no longer afford to be here. 

Question: [Inaudible] seems to me given the numbers that you just talked about that despite this program that you're announcing and the housing you're going to be building under this program won't happen fast enough to deal with the amount of migrants that you have coming in, the 10,000 that you have and the 45,000 [inaudible] be here. 

So, where are you going to put these people if you can't provide shelter for them? And given the fact that there are already demonstrations in Staten Island yet again today about putting a shelter in Staten Island, what's going to happen? What do you want the federal government to do? What do you want the state to do, and how are you going to find places for them given the fact that this program is going to happen way too late [inaudible] to deal with the problem [inaudible]. 

Mayor Adams: Well, one, we're not sitting on our hands. As Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer reminds us often, the record number of items we did around housing with CityFHEPS vouchers, placing in supportive housing, we know we have to continue. Even as we ask for help, we have to continue to place people in housing, and we're doing that. 

But I have made it clear, this is not sustainable. We realize that, and we are extremely pleased to get 9,000 out of our system in an ability for them to work and file the documents. But the way the incoming continues and the number who are here already, there must be a national response to that, and we stated it. 

There needs to be control at the border, real immigration reform. I think far too many of our Republican lawmakers have been pushing back on that. And it should be funded. This should not come out of New York City taxpayers. $2 billion already, $5 billion this fiscal year, projected $12 billion over the next fiscal budgetary cycles, where we have to do two year budgets. 

And what's also important, Marcia, that many people are misunderstanding. New York City's budget is $106 billion. Almost $76 billion of that is already locked up. There's nothing we can do about it, it's to pay for various things. So, we're talking about $30 billion that we have to find efficiencies in, in $30 billion. So, if you have to take $12 billion out of $30 billion, that math is problematic. And so we need this national problem to be addressed by the national government. 

Question: And so how do you [inaudible] go about this protest that keeps going on in Staten Island about locating that shelter [inaudible]. 

Mayor Adams: Listen, we need to separate the hateful terminology that a small number of Staten Islanders are displaying from the pain that everyday New Yorkers are feeling and the pain that migrant and asylum seekers are feeling. So, there's...everyone is frustrated with this. New York City residents and migrants and asylum seekers should not be placed in these circumstances. 

But those who are banging on the buses, using derogatory terminology, that is not who we are. And if you break the law, we're going to take appropriate behavior. And so when you look at 50, 60, 70 people, that is not the population of Staten Islanders. They just want to be fairly treated. I know they're frustrated. We are all frustrated. 

This administration and the workers who have been spending countless number of hours addressing this, we're frustrated. We're angry. We deserve better as a city. But I'm not going to allow those who have used some of the terminologies I heard to define what we are as a city. This is a city of immigrants. This is a city that has always allowed people a stepping stone to participate in the American dream. But what you're seeing now is a humanitarian crisis, and the national government and the state should help addressing this. This should not be New York City's problem. 

Question: [Inaudible.] 

Mayor Adams: We've had great conversations with the speaker, and you know, we wanted to make sure they saw this before we rolled it out. And we're going to now engage in real conversations with each of the Council persons to… We all need to get on board. There's one thing I'm sure of. If you were to speak to every councilperson, every state lawmaker, every borough president, they would say the number one thing they hear from their constituents is housing, number one. 

Everyone is concerned about the affordability of living in the city and how are we going to deal with this housing crisis. And from the research that deputy mayor and Dan did of showing how we got here in the first place, we created zoning and policies to keep people out and not to bring people in. We're saying, let's go back and correct the sins of the past. Dan, did you want to talk... 

Garodnick: Yes, just wanted to add. I agree with all of that. I think what councilmembers are seeing today is the direct impact of the lack of housing on their constituents. And there is a moment now where people are connecting the cost of rents, the gentrification pressures, the imbalance of power between landlords and tenants in the city, to our housing scarcity problem. 

So, we have been having very productive conversations with councilmembers and with the speaker, and they are our partners in this. The speaker has made it very clear this is a priority of hers, and we really appreciate that and look forward to working with them to be able to get this over the goal line. 

Deputy Mayor Torres-Springer: Mayor, can I add something?  If I could just add. In the past year and a half, this already builds on a number of projects that we have worked on together and collaboration that already exists. So, from individual projects like Innovation QNS to the Bruckner project in the Bronx, to area wide rezonings that we are working on diligently as councilmembers — and a couple of them joined us here today — raised their hands and said, we know that we need to be part of the solution. 

So, the collaboration is not going to be new. We will spend the next year making sure that we are continuing to provide the type of information about what these set of proposals does and what it doesn't do. And so we're hopeful, because as Dan mentioned, housing is every New Yorker's number one expense. 

And the time for tinkering, as the mayor mentioned in his speech, is really over when we have the number of people who are sleeping in our shelters and when too many New Yorkers feel that the promise of the city is out of their reach. 


Question: Yes, quickly on the plans for NYCHA infill and other infill projects. Similarly, are those going to be like MIH type zoning or are there plans to push for deeper affordability? Can you give any specificity about that? 

Garodnick: So today there's strict limitations on what you can even add in a campus infill context. It's defined by zoning. If you have existing structures that are beyond what today's zoning allows, you can't actually add anything there today. So, we are taking a look at this question about how we can expand the universe of campus infill. The mayor cited the example in his speech of a church with a parking lot next door. 

We see real opportunities for even in that example 100 percent affordable development in partnership with the city to be able to turn underused properties into affordable housing. And there is campus infill opportunities whether it's NYCHA or other bigger campuses where you have development rights that exist today but can't actually be effectuated because the zoning rules create too much complexity. We're trying to do away with that to eliminate those barriers which today are keeping anything from that. 

Question: Have there been conversations about actual affordability levels, though; or, is that… 

Garodnick: Well, in the case where you have the development rights, you have the development rights where zoning is just saying you can't do it because you're too close to the building next door or it has to be contextual, existing buildings are not contextual. So, we want to eliminate those barriers to enable anything to happen first, and if you have the development rights, that would not be a trigger for MIH. 

Mayor Adams: And I just want to about housing from NYCHA, because your question is a good question. NYCHA's capital problem is billions upon billions of dollars, and there has been a lack of creativity of addressing that. Everyone has stated they're waiting for the federal government to bail us out. The bugles you hear, that's not the cavalry coming, it's Taps. NYCHA's dying. 

And we are looking at various ways such as the NYCHA trust, we were able to get that passed with our partners in Albany. The Chelsea project is a very exciting project for us that is underway. The deputy mayor included… Jessica, who is the former chief housing officer, included NYCHA in our housing plan. 

NYCHA is very much part of our focus. If we don't start finding real ways of putting capital into NYCHA, it's going to increasingly become problematic. And so we have to think differently. We have to be bold about it. And making sure zero displacement, but at the same time using that footprint and that campus to get the quality that those NYCHA residents deserve is what we're focusing on. 

Question: Mayor, the governor had through recent executive action and through her housing plan as you noted didn't get through Albany last time but signaled there would be increasing state dollars for municipalities to do the type things that you're talking about doing right now. Does that play into all of this? How much will this change impact the budget crunch that we know the city is in? 

Mayor Adams: Dan? 

Garodnick: Yes. First, I just want to… This goes back to also Marcia's question, which is we're looking at zoning changes here which are for the next 60 years, right? We're looking back to 1961 and we're looking forward to the next 60 years of where we want to grow and how we want to grow responsibly in the city. 

We want to encourage growth in town centers, small commercial areas around the city. We want to do it near transit. We want to promote affordable housing in medium high density areas, and we want to prioritize housing over parking. That's what is animating this proposal, which is what we can do in zoning. And this is the stuff that we will advance through the city's own powers in zoning, and we look forward to partnering with the city council. 

The State of New York can do a lot of things that would significantly enhance the ability for these sorts of opportunities to exist whether it's through tax abatement, whether it's through ending the antiquated 12 FAR cap. There's a lot of things that the state can do including programs that, like what you mentioned. But this is a zoning proposal within the power of New York City. Everything can be enhanced through various actions at the state level. 

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor. Do you expect pushback on the proposal to eliminate parking requirements from outer borough councilmembers and community boards and if you do, how do you plan to move forward. 

Mayor Adams: This is New York City, 8.3 million people, 35 million opinions. There's nothing you could do in New York that you're not going to have pushback. But pushback does not mean there will be a step back. We have to house New Yorkers, and if there are those who say they would rather have a place to park a car and not park a family in an apartment, then they need to explain that to their constituencies. We're going to show them how this city with the transportation network we have, that we could find adequate parking without taking away housing. 

We need to get people in housing. Our shelter capacity has reached a record level of including those who were in the shelters and now with our migrant and asylum seekers. We need to be on a clear pathway of housing. And so yes, there's going to be pushback. In New York City, there's always pushback, but it doesn't mean we have to take a step back from doing what's right for New Yorkers. 

Question: [Inaudible], two part question. One, Marcia mentioned the timeline here. So, how long exactly are we expecting until we seek relief for New Yorkers, you know, our new arrivals and long term… 


This is. This is. So, regarding this plan, this proposal... 

Mayor Adams: Yes. Yes. 

Question: …how long do you expect it to provide relief for New Yorkers, new arrivals, long term New Yorkers? 

Mayor Adams: Well, I think there's… Because I want to be extremely clear. Even as we plan for the future projects, there are a large number of projects that if we have a real 421a extension with Albany, there are projects waiting to put a shovel in the ground and start immediately doing building. We need to understand that. 

Second, as the deputy mayor indicated, we are still moving projects through. We have the Willets Point Project, the Bruckner project. We have Innovation QNS project. So, we're not waiting as we continue to build, but we're building also for the future. 

So, any successful housing plan is going to state while we're building now we need to put units in the pipeline. That is what we're saying. So, some of the things that we're talking about is going to take a couple years before you actually see the results, but there are things we're doing now to put housing for people right now. 


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