Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen on Expanding Affordable Housing

Encore: August 27, 2014

Alicia Glen, New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, joins MetroFocus host Rafael Pi Roman to discuss Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing plan.

Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his $41 billion Housing New York plan in January 2014. The plan sets out to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next ten years, aiming higher than the Koch administration with 190,000 units over 13 years, and the Bloomberg administration with 165,000 units over 12 years. The de Blasio administration has dubbed Housing New York “the most expansive and ambitious affordable housing agenda of its kind in the nation’s history.” But are 200,000 units enough for New York City’s rapidly growing population?

Alicia Glen, the city’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, is in charge of realizing the plan. Glen, formerly head of Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group, first tackled affordable housing under Mayor Giuliani as the Assistant Commissioner for Housing Finance with the city’s Department of Housing, Preservation and Development.

“[We] think that 200,000 units of affordable housing that will be affordable for decades to come will be a significant down payment on what is a larger issue that we’re facing in terms of our larger residential production,” Glen told MetroFocus host Rafael Pi Roman.

Housing New York also indicates plans to invest in supportive housing, or affordable housing with built-in support services. After watching a MetroFocus story on the topic, Glen said that long-term investment in supportive housing makes sense, but will require multiple pieces.

“There’s the actual building of the buildings, which requires a huge capital commitment by the city. It also requires state and federal participation to make sure that those families have the services they need so that the model is really very successful…[I]t is going to require all layers of government coming to the table to really increase the amount of supportive housing,” she said.

But supportive housing is just one piece of the pie when it comes to housing New Yorkers considered “extremely low income.” In 2012, more than 50 percent of New Yorkers were considered “rent-burdened,” or contributing more than 30 percent of their income towards rent.

“[T]he mayor has been very clear that as we are allocating our resources in the plan, we are prepared to again put city-based subsidies and dollars to make sure that we are increasing the number of units available for extremely low income. I think we’re going to make big progress,” Glen told Pi Roman.

According to Glen, the de Blasio administration has already made a dent in their goal towards building and preserving 200,000 affordable housing units.  “[I] would say…by 2015 New Yorkers should have a palpable sense that there’s more affordable housing being produced, and hopefully more housing produced in general,” Glen said.

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