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NYC plans to build ‘a little more housing’ in every neighborhood to tackle shortage

Calling it “an urgent, groundbreaking effort” to tackle the city’s persistent and severe housing shortage, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced a plan to build an additional 100,000 homes over 15 years – the most significant pro-housing reforms ever to the city’s zoning code.

The plan includes measures to improve and modernize the city’s zoning, including allowing greater flexibility for homeowners to add extra space or bring existing properties into compliance with zoning to facilitate renovations; ending the “Sliver Law,” which limits development based on the size of a property for height-limited developments; and more easily allowing landmarked sites to sell transferable development rights, allowing them to better raise revenue for maintenance of the landmarked building.

DCP will release a draft scope of work for the City of Yes for Housing Opportunity and early documentation in the environmental review process, as well as host a virtual public information session where the public can learn more and ask questions about the proposal. The draft scope of work will be followed by a scoping meeting, where the public can weigh in on the environmental review.

It’s the third citywide zoning changes announced recently.

The plan includes measures to eliminate mandates that parking spaces be constructed with new homes, create additional affordable and supportive housing, eliminate bans on apartments across the city, and enable conversions of empty office buildings into homes for New Yorkers.

“So many of the challenges we face as a city are rooted in an ongoing housing shortage that is forcing too many people to leave New York City and making life increasingly difficult for those who stay. For more than 60 years, we have added layers upon layers of regulations, effectively outlawing the kinds of housing that our city has long relied on. Today, we are proposing the most pro-housing changes in the history of New York City’s modern zoning code — changes that will remove longstanding barriers to opportunity, finally end exclusionary zoning, cut red tape, and transform our city from the ground up,” Adams said. “This plan will spur an additional 100,000 new homes for a quarter-million New Yorkers.

“If we do this right, decades from now, New Yorkers will see this moment for what it was: a turning point away from exclusionary policies and outdated ideas and towards a brighter, bolder, more equitable future.”

The City of Yes for Housing Opportunity plan could add 100,000 homes to expected housing production over the next 15 years, create nearly 260,000 temporary jobs and an additional 6,300 permanent jobs, and provide $58.2 billion in economic impact to the city over the next 30 years.

Here’s what the plan includes:

Ending parking mandates for new housing

  • eliminate requirements that new homes come with new parking spots. Parking would not be barred from new developments, but this plan would get zoning regulations out of the way so developers could make decisions consistent with the market and their potential residents.

Universal affordability preference

  • Building on the successful Affordable Independent Residence for Seniors (AIRS) program — which allows affordable senior housing to be about 20 percent larger than other types of housing — this policy would extend that preference to all types of affordable housing.

Shared living

  • Adjust current rules that mandate larger unit sizes, allow more smaller-sized apartments to reduce the need for single adults to live with roommates, and re-legalize homes with shared kitchen or bathroom facilities while maintaining strong building code and livability standards.

Town Center “Main Streets” zoning

  • Allow between two and four stories of residential development over ground-floor commercial space to encourage mixed-use communities and foster naturally affordable types of housing.

Transit-Oriented Development

  • Allow apartment buildings between three and five stories on large lots near transit stops in places where they will blend with the existing neighborhood. Small multifamily buildings are already a part of New York’s fabric — making up more than one in five homes in one- and two-family neighborhoods — but have been banned by increasingly restrictive zoning in recent decades.

Accessory dwelling units

  • Legalize an additional dwelling unit of up to 800 square feet on one- and two-family properties across the five boroughs, adding new housing that fits into neighborhoods, while providing space for multigenerational families, health aides, or local workers.

 Converting empty offices into housing

  • Update the year of construction to 1990 for flexible conversion regulations, extend geographic eligibility to anywhere in the city that zoning permits housing, and allow conversion to more types of homes, including supportive housing. Through these changes, commercial space could be converted to create an additional 20,000 homes over the next decade.

Maximizing campuses

  • Ease approvals for new buildings on campuses that reflect the context of the surrounding buildings — allowing properties ranging from multi-building housing developments to religious institutions to create new housing and support the revitalization of their communities.
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