Press Releases

For Immediate Release
September 21, 2015

Rachaele Raynoff - (212) 720-3471


Mandatory Inclusionary Housing would require permanent affordability in new major zoning actions Zoning for Quality & Affordability would promote better buildings and architectural quality while reducing costs of building affordable and affordable senior housing

September 21, 2015 - Public review officially launched today for two proposed changes to New York City’s Zoning Resolution designed to promote production of more affordable housing in better quality buildings, and foster more vibrant, inclusive, livable and diverse neighborhoods. The proposals, developed by the Department of City Planning (DCP), will work together with other initiatives to achieve key goals of Housing New York, Mayor de Blasio’s ten year plan to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing.

The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) program would require (through zoning) that when City Planning Commission actions create significant new housing capacity in medium and high-density areas, either 25 or 30 percent of new housing would be permanently affordable. MIH is intended to promote economic diversity in neighborhoods where the City plans for growth by ensuring that new housing meets the needs of a wider range of New Yorkers. It is the most ambitious such program of any major U.S. city. Production of affordable housing would be a condition of residential development when developers build in an area zoned for Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, whether rezoned as part of a City neighborhood plan or a private rezoning application. As “enabling legislation,” the proposed text amendment would establish a framework that would then be applied as neighborhoods are rezoned throughout the City.

The program would be applied to DCP’s neighborhood rezonings where housing capacity significantly increases, beginning with East New York, which also entered public review today. It would also apply to individual applications, private or public, to the City Planning Commission where a significant amount of new housing capacity is created. Each would go through its own land use review process.

City Planning Commission Chairman Carl Weisbrod said, “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing is designed to be predictable, feasible and permanent. It would foster economic diversity in neighborhoods. Most important to residents is that it will assure that the affordable housing units are affordable forever and protected, regardless of what happens to neighborhoods over time, enabling us to create and sustain a long-term stable reservoir of affordable housing for our communities.”

As part of Housing New York, MIH would work together with City housing subsidies, other zoning changes and 421a reforms achieved in the last legislative session in Albany, and would facilitate affordable housing in a variety of market conditions. MIH was developed in close consultation with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and informed by extensive policy and financial feasibility analysis.

Under the proposal, the City Planning Commission and ultimately the City Council would apply at least one of these requirements to each Mandatory Inclusionary Housing area:

  • 25% of residential floor area must be for affordable housing units for residents with incomes averaging 60% AMI ($46,620 for a family of 3), or
  • 30% of residential floor area must be for affordable housing units for residents with incomes averaging 80% AMI ($62,150 for a family of 3)

In addition to the options above, the City Council and the City Planning Commission could decide to apply an additional, limited workforce option for markets where moderate-income development is marginally feasible without subsidy. Under this option:

  • 30% of the residential floor area must be for housing units for residents with incomes averaging 120% AMI ($93,240/year for a family of 3)
  • No units could go to residents with incomes above 130% AMI ($101,010/year for a family of 3)
  • No direct subsidies could be used for these affordable housing units
  • This option would not be available in Manhattan Community Districts 1-8, which extend south of 96th Street on the east side and south of 110th Street on the west side

MIH is one of several tools to create new affordable housing under Housing New York, and can be combined with subsidies to achieve broader and deeper affordability. Acknowledging that neighborhoods may have greater economic need than can be met by MIH alone, under each DCP neighborhood planning initiative, HPD and DCP will evaluate the area to determine the role that HPD programs could play in broadening and deepening affordability.

Requirements would apply to developments, enlargements and residential conversions of more than 10 units. Developments between 11 and 25 units would have the optional alternative of making a payment into an affordable housing fund, to be used to support affordable housing within that Community District.

Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) would amend zoning regulations to encourage better buildings and accommodate the needs of mixed-income and affordable housing. The proposal would encourage better architecture and good design with targeted changes to rules in medium- and higher-density neighborhoods, and would allow taxpayer dollars and investments that go into affordable housing and senior housing under Housing New York to go further.

Chairman Weisbrod said, “The goals of quality and affordability are complementary: it is essential that we achieve both. Zoning for Quality and Affordability will address longstanding concerns about our zoning rules to help make the City more affordable to a wide range of New Yorkers, and foster diverse, livable communities with buildings that contribute to the character and quality of neighborhoods.”

Among the highlights of the proposal:


  • In medium- and high-density districts, encourage buildings to provide ground floors that include better space for retail where permitted and a better relationship to the street, by allowing limited additional height (in over 95 percent of areas, no more than 5 feet). This additional height would be available only where taller ground floors are provided. The number of stories in the building would be capped.
  • Change rules that today lead to flat, dull apartment buildings to encourage visual variety and features common in traditional residential buildings, such as bay windows and courtyards.
  • Maintain rules that work well today, including the essential rules of “contextual” zoning districts and lower-density zoning districts.


  • Enable Inclusionary Housing buildings, which provide mixed-income housing, to construct quality buildings that fit the full amount of housing they are allowed under zoning today.
  • Rationalize definitions under zoning to make it easier to provide the range of affordable senior housing and care facilities needed to meet the varied needs of an aging population, and to help seniors remain in their communities. In addition, in lower density districts that permit multifamily housing, modify zoning that today produces walkup buildings in order to allow affordable senior apartments to be built in a building served by an elevator, not exceeding four to six stories.
  • Reduce unnecessarily high costs of building transit-accessible affordable housing by making off-street parking spaces optional, rather than required, for new affordable and affordable senior housing developments near transit.  This will allow taxpayer dollars to go toward more housing or better open space rather than unnecessary parking spaces.

The proposal would not rezone any area, grant any additional market rate floor area or have any effect on as-of-right development in one- and two-family zoning districts. Nor would it alter in any way the protections afforded to designated landmarks or historic districts by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

DCP has conducted extensive outreach to inform community boards and stakeholders throughout the City how the proposal would affect their respective neighborhoods, posted individual profiles online for each of the 59 community districts and made the zoning text available in advance of the beginning of public review today.

The public review for both zoning text amendments is expected to take approximately six months, and includes review by Community Boards, Borough Presidents, Borough Boards, the City Planning Commission and the City Council.