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Friday, December 9, 2022

Mayor Adams Unveils "Get Stuff Built," Bold Three-Pronged Strategy to Tackle Affordable Housing Crisis, Sets "Moonshot" Goal of 500,000 new Homes

New York
– New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday December 8th, unveiled "Get Stuff Built," a comprehensive, three-pronged effort to address New York City's affordable housing crisis and underlying housing shortage by rapidly accelerating the pace of housing production, with a "moonshot" goal of meeting the need for 500,000 new homes over the next decade. Led by a new report titled "Get Stuff Built," Mayor Adams' plan focuses on building housing faster, everywhere, and together in partnership with New York State, the New York City Council, and New Yorkers in all five boroughs.

"If New York is to remain the city we love, we must have places for the people we love. We need more housing, and we need it as fast as we can build it," said Mayor Adams. "The system has been broken for so long that we have come to view it as our reality. Our city declared a housing emergency five decades ago, yet, we have failed to address it with the same urgency we would any other crisis. That ends now. We can, and we must, do better. We need to add hundreds of thousands of units to address the problem, and that is exactly what we are going to do. Today we are saying yes to more housing and yes to getting stuff built. We are going to build faster, we are going to build everywhere, and we are going to build together."

"Making our city stronger and bringing opportunity within reach of every New Yorker isn't something that's going to happen accidentally," said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. "We need bold action to address our chronic and acute housing crisis and we cannot leave any stone unturned – from reforming our own processes to building housing near new transit stations and to allowing a wider range of unit types in neighborhoods across the city. I'm looking forward to working with our partners to 'Get Stuff Built' and to build everywhere, faster, and together."

"New York City can and should be a leader in ensuring everyone has access to housing. Today's announcement is a proud moment that shows we are committed to making government work for our neighbors," said Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz. "This means cleaning up our processes, updating the rules, and removing the unnecessary administrative burdens that are holding us back. 'Housing Our Neighbors' laid out a blueprint for tackling the city's homelessness crisis, and today you are seeing the results of that work. We have a long way to go, but we will 'Get Stuff Built' together and ensure all New Yorkers have a safe, stable, and affordable home."

"Get Stuff Built," a report produced by the Building and Land Use Approval Streamlining Task Force (BLAST) convened in June, includes 111 concrete actions the city will take to create more housing more quickly by cutting red tape, streamlining processes, and removing bureaucratic obstacles that are slowing housing production and economic recovery. These actions will increase the speed and lower the cost of development by accelerating project timelines by 50 percent, ensure environmental protection and meaningful public participation, and stimulate the creation of affordable housing across New York City.

Additionally, Mayor Adams formally kicked off the environmental review process to rezone the areas around two of the four new Metro-North train stations coming to the Bronx, with proposals to create thousands of new homes and family-sustaining jobs. Finally, Mayor Adams announced a series of policy priorities focused on stimulating housing creation, which his administration will pursue alongside partners in New York City, Albany, and Washington, D.C.

All of these initiatives fulfill commitments made in "Housing Our Neighbors," the Adams administration's blueprint for housing and homelessness; "Rebuild, Renew, Reinvent: A Blueprint for New York City's Economic Recovery," the administration's blueprint for a strong, equitable comeback; and the mayor's "City of Yes" plan, which includes proposed zoning changes that would allow for the creation of a significant amount of additional housing.

Cover of the "Get Stuff Built" report. Credit: New York City Mayor's Office

Build Faster

The "Get Stuff Built" report includes 111 specific actions that will improve efficiency and effectiveness of three governmental processes that have slowed housing production: City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR), land use approvals, and the city's building permitting process. These improvements will shorten the time needed for these processes by 50 percent, accelerating the creation of new housing and reducing costs. City actions will include:

  • Speed up the pre-certification process and make it more transparent: Historically, land use review applications can get stuck in review and revision loops at several points. The pre-certification process – which must be completed before the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) can begin – has no mandated timeline and can take two years or longer. Through a series of actions and measures, the New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) will remove and eliminate certain requirements and actions that will allow applicants to complete the pre-certification process much more quickly. ULURP application materials will also become available to community boards and the public earlier in the pre-certification stage.
  • Exempt small housing projects from Environmental Assessment Statement: Most housing projects subject to land use approvals or public financing must conduct an environmental review that takes six to eight months to complete and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yet, nearly all of these smaller projects are found to have no significant impacts on the environment. Exempting small housing projects from environmental review will decrease overall cost and help open new homes to New Yorkers more quickly.
  • Improve traffic analysis: Proposals to build housing beyond current zoning limits must generally go through the CEQR process. Revising the methodology for traffic analysis could significantly improve the environmental review process and shorten the overall time required on a project. The city will update the current guidelines in the CEQR Technical Manual to replace the existing methodology of predicting possible vehicle delays at every nearby intersection and, instead, use simple modern data tools and reach conclusions based on typical neighborhood congestion patterns and the size and type of the proposed project.
  • Streamline construction inspections of fire protection systems: Currently, the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) performs examinations, permitting, and inspections for construction-related activities of buildings, and the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) monitors operation, maintenance, and compliance for fire safety of buildings after completion of construction. The city will make near-term systems improvements to coordinate plan review between DOB and FDNY, and, in the long-term, will consider transferring FDNY's construction-specific permit responsibilities to DOB – while maintaining FDNY's authority in operation and maintenance of buildings for fire safety compliance – to remove the redundancy of separate inspections during the construction process without compromising the safety of building occupants.
  • Expand DOB NOW to create a centralized city "one-stop shop" construction portal: This portal will process construction-related transactions across all city agencies involved in construction approval, permitting, and sign-off. This new system will break down silos between city agencies, create a single point of contact for an applicant, and allow applicants to track their approvals in real-time.

City agencies have already completed implementation of several improvements outlined in "Build Faster," with approximately half of the identified improvements to be implemented over next 12 months. Most of the remaining recommendations will generally be implemented over the following 12-24 months. Several actions – namely those requiring ULURP review or major technology upgrades – may take up to 36 months to fully implement.

Conceptual rendering of a potential Morris Park Plaza, connecting the existing community to the Metro-North train station. Credit: New York City Department of City Planning

Build Everywhere

Taking the next steps in the "City of Yes" plan, and delivering on a core commitment in "Rebuild, Renew, Reinvent," to invest in business districts and emerging job hubs across all five boroughs, the Adams administration is advancing two major neighborhood planning efforts.

The first is aimed at leveraging four brand-new Metro-North train stations set to open in the East Bronx in 2027, for which scoping documents are now available. The City of Yes Bronx Metro-North Plan would bring a projected 10,000 jobs; major new public and private investments, including by large health care institutions already in Morris Park; and as many as 6,000 new homes – at least 1,500 of which will be permanently affordable. To support the environmental review process for this project, public information meetings are set for December 13 and 15, 2022, and a public scoping meeting will be held on January 9, 2023. The project is set to be certified and begin ULURP in summer 2023.

The second major planning effort is a neighborhood development initiative in Central Brooklyn known as the Atlantic Avenue Mixed-Use Plan. It promises to bring thousands of new homes, and permanently income-restricted homes, commercial and industrial jobs, infrastructure, and other improvements to Atlantic Avenue and its neighboring blocks in Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. A steering committee formed to help shape the plan held its first meeting on December 1, 2022. Six months of public engagement is expected to begin in January and run through June 2023, followed by the release of a report. Certification is expected in 2024.

Beyond these two neighborhood planning efforts, the administration has proposed Zoning for Housing Opportunity, a citywide zoning text amendment as part of Mayor Adams' "City of Yes" plan. Scoping for this proposal will begin at the end of 2023 and will stimulate the creation of tens of thousands of new homes in neighborhoods across the entire city. The text amendment would:

  • Expand opportunities for affordable and supportive homes for New Yorkers by increasing the floor area ratio for all types of affordable housing, similar to the allowance already afforded to affordable housing for seniors;
  • Broaden the acceptable variety of housing types and sizes, including studios, to accommodate a wider range of families and households where appropriate;
  • Ease conversions of underutilized commercial buildings into homes; and
  • Reduce or eliminate unnecessary parking requirements that add cost and reduce the number of homes being built.

Build Together

Recognizing that New York City can only meet the scale of the housing crisis in partnership with allies at the federal, state, city, and community level, Mayor Adams committed to working in partnership with Governor Kathy Hochul, legislative leaders and members of the State Legislature in Albany, the City Council, borough presidents, federal partners, and community leaders – including the faith-based community – to advance a shared regional agenda.

Priorities for the administration include:

  • Prohibiting exclusionary zoning practices and encouraging appropriate density near jobs and public transit;
  • Legalizing existing basement apartment units and allowing homeowners to create other accessory dwelling units;
  • Providing New York City the ability to allow additional residential density in high-density neighborhoods;
  • Allowing the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to finance and preserve more affordable housing, secure longer affordability, encourage affordable homeownership, and enable affordable housing to include critical resources like child care and senior centers;
  • Facilitating the conversion of obsolete office buildings into housing;
  • Creating a tax benefit that enables multifamily rental development while requiring affordable housing;
  • Establishing an incentive to preserve housing quality and ensure healthy, safe living conditions for tenants; and
  • Streamlining approval processes and environmental review as outlined in the "Get Stuff Built" plan.

Mayor Adams will also continue to work with federal partners to secure financial support and regulatory changes. This includes working towards an increase in the value of tax credits and tax-exempt bonds and reducing the "50-Percent Test" to stretch federal housing dollars further.


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