MetroFocus: December 5, 2022

CHASING THE DREAM: HOW CAN NEW YORK SOLVE ITS AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRISIS? 

As millions of New Yorkers feel the crunch of record-high rents and few affordable places to live, it’s becoming clearer by the week that New York is facing a deepening housing crisis. Mayor Eric Adams has responded by rolling out his “City of Yes” initiatives to combat the housing shortage and the fact that almost one-third of city renters spend more than half their income on rent. Amid the crisis, the multimedia news organization City & State is bringing together some of New York’s top experts for the public event “Solutions to Affordable Housing in New York City and State.” For more on these possible solutions, MetroFocus is joined by three housing leaders taking part in the Dec. 6 conversation: NYC Council Member Pierina Sanchez, who chairs the Committee on Housing and Buildings; Dan Garodnick, chair of the City Planning Commission and director of the NYC Department of City Planning; and Moses Gates, vice president for housing and neighborhood planning at the civic nonprofit Regional Plan Association.

 

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Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, NEW YORK'S ESCALATING HOUSING CRISIS.

AS MILLIONS FEEL THE CRUNCH OF RECORD HIGH RENTS AND LACK OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING, FIND OUT WHAT THE CITY IS DOING TO BOOST BUILDING, COMBAT INEQUALITY, AND HELP NEW YORKERS IN THIS CRISIS.

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD,AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

WEEK AFTER WEEK, IT'S BECOMING INCREASINGLY CLEAR THAT NEW YORK IS FACING A DEEPENING HOUSING CRISIS.

ALMOST ONE-THIRD OF CITY RENTERS SPEND HALF THEIR INCOME ON RENT, AND RECENT POLLING IN THE METRO AREA SHOWS THE ABILITY TO FIND AFFORDABLE HOUSING RANKS DEAD LAST IN TERMS OF SATISFACTION AMONG NINE KEY CATEGORY.

MAYOR ADAMS RESPONDED BY PUSHING AHEAD WITH THIS CITY OF YES INITIATIVES TO CUT RED TAPE, BOOST BUILDING AND COMBAT THE HOUSING SHORTAGE.

THIS AS WE WAIT THE SEE WHAT NEW POLICIES GOVERNOR HOCHUL WILL FAVOR IN ALBANY NEXT YEAR.

AMID THE CRISIS, CITY&STATE IS BRINGING TOGETHER SOME OF NEW YORK'S TOP EXPERTS FOR THE PUBLIC EVENT TITLED 'SOLUTIONS TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN NEW YORK CITY AND STATE.'

IT'S TAKING PLACE THIS TUESDAY DECEMBER 6th AT THE MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE.

TONIGHT WE'RE JOINED BY THREE HOUSING LEADERS WHO WILL BE TAKING PART IN THAT EVENT AND JOIN US TONIGHT TO PREVIEW THE CONVERSATION.

NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL MEMBER PIERINA SANCHEZ.

DAN GARODNICK IS CHAIR OF THE CITY PLANNING COMMISSION AND DIRECTOR OF THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CITY PLANNING.

AND MOSES GATES IS VICE PRESIDENT FOR HOUSING AND NEIGHBORHOOD PLANNING AT THE REGIONAL PLAN ASSOCIATION, A NONPROFIT SIIC ORGANIZATION THAT DEVELOPS AND PROMOTES IDEAS TO IMPROVE THE METRO AREA.

THIS IS PART OF OUR ONGOING CONVERSATION.

WELCOME TO ALL OF YOU.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.

LET ME START OFF WITH THE SAME QUESTION TO ALL THREE OF YOU, AND JUST A QUICK ANSWER FROM YOU, BUT I THINK IT WILL HELP SET THE STAGE FOR THE REST OF THE CONVERSATION.

I'LL LOOK TO EACH OF YOU BECAUSE OF DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES.

DAN, WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE CAUSE AND THE SCOPE OF THE AFFORDABLE HOUING PROBLEM?

I THINK FUNDAMENTALLY IS THE CAUSE IS THAT WE HAVE NOT DELIVERED NEARLY ENOUGH AFFORDABLE HOUSING OR HOUSING OF ALL VARIETIES IN NEW YORK CITY.

OVER THE LAST DECADE WE HAVE, YOU KNOW, CREATED ABOUT 800,000 JOBS WHILE ONLY CREATING ABOUT 230,000 UNITS OF HOUSING.

YOU KNOW, IN THE LAST 40 YEARS, WHEN OUR POPULATION GREW BY 1.7 MILLION PEOPLE, RECREATED HOUSING AT HALF THE RATE DURING THE PRIOR 40 YEARS WHEN WE ACTUALLY LOST POPULATION.

THE END RESULT IS WE HAVE A HOUSING CRISIS.

IT'S FUNDAMENTALLY A PROBLEM, AND THE SCOPE, THERE HAVE BEEN SOME ESTIMATES THAT WE NEED TO DELIVER MORE THAN 500,000 UNITS OF HOUSING BY -- WITHIN THE NEXT DECADE.

IT'S A MAJOR, MAJOR CONCERN, AND WE SEE THE EFFECTS THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE CITY.

PIERINA, HOW ABOUT YOU?

YOUR PERSPECTIVE AS A CITY COUNCIL MEMBER.

ABSOLUTELY.

I'M NOT GOING TO DISAGREE WITH DAN, BUT I ABSOLUTELY WOULD ADD THAT THERE'S A DEMAND SIDE TO THIS QUESTION.

SO YES, NEW YORK CITY NEEDS TO DO MORE.

WE NEED TO BUILD MORE HOUSING.

BUT INEQUALITY IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK AND IN THE NEW YORK REGION IS INTENSE.

WE NEED TO FIGHT THE INCOME SIDE OF THEEQUATION AS WELL, MAKING SURE THOSE JOBS DAN MENTIONED, THAT WE ALSO ARE BUILDING GOOD JOBS AND FOLKS HAVE ACCESS TO PAY.

BECAUSE WHEN WE LOOK AT NEW YORK CITY'S HOUSING CRISIS, YES, IT'S ACUTE, BUT IT'S THE MOST ACUTE FOR THE LOWEST INCOME NEW YORKERS.

THEY ARE THE ONES THAT ARE SUFFERING THE MOST.

AND SO I WOULD ADD THAT ON TO THE SCOPE THAT IT'S NOT JUST SUPPLY, BUT ALSO THE DEMAND SIDE.

AND MOSES, HOW ABOUT YOU FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE?

I CAN'T DISAGREE WITH EITHER OF THOSE TWO THINGS.

I THINK THE LACK OF SUPPLY IS A BIG ISSUE.

INCOME INEQUALITY, AND LIKE PEER PIERINA SPOKE ABOUT, THE DEMAND SIDE IS EQUALLY AS BIG.

THE PROBLEM ADDRESSING THESE IS NEW YORK IS COMPLICATED AND WHILE THEY'RE SIMPLE PROBLEMS, THE SOLUTIONS ARE NOT SIMPLE, AND THE SOLUTIONS ARE THINGS WE HAVE TO GET NUANCED AND SMART ABOUT.

I'M GOING TO GET TO SOME SOLUTIONS AND THINGS THAT ARE TAKING PLACE NOW AND YOUR VIEWS ON ALL OF THEM.

BUT AS PART OF THE BACKDROP FOR THIS ORGANIZATION, WE TALK ABOUT HOUING AFFORDABILITY.

IS THERE A UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED DEFINITION OF AFFORDABILITY HELPS US UNDERSTAND THIS AS WE MOVE FORWARD?

PIERINA, YOU FIRST.

WE HAVE TO START WITH WHERE FOLKS ARE AT.

WE HAVE TO PROFILE THE INDIVIDUAL COMMUNITY.

SO IN THE BEGINNING WE MENTIONED THAT A THIRD OF NEW YORKERS ARE PAYING MORE THAN 30% OF THEIR INCOME ON RENT.

IN MY AREA, 70% ARE PAYING MORE THAN 35, 35% A THEIR INCOME IN RENT.

I REPRESENT A COMMUNITY THAT'S MORE THAN 98% OF COLOR.

WHEN WE TALK ABOUT AFFORDABILITY, SOME OF THE METRICS THE GOVERNMENT USE, THE AREA MEDIAN INCOME, THE BASIC DEFINITION, THE AMI LEAVES OUT THE BULK OF MY COMMUNITY.

IT'S A QUESTION OF, IF YOU'RE IN SCHOOL, DO YOU USE AN A, B, C, F GRADING SYSTEM IN A 4 HADN'T 0 GRADING SYSTEM?

A ZERO TO 100 GRADING SYSTEM?

WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE WHATEVER SYSTEM WE USE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THOSE THAT ARE AT THE LOWEST END OF THE INCOME SCALE AND WE'RE DELIVERING FOR THEM AND HAVING HOMES.

MOSES, IF WE'RE SEEING MAYBE DIFFERENT UNDERSTANDINGS -- PERHAPS THAT'S THE RIGHT WAY TO TERM IT HERE -- IN TERMS OF DEFINITION IS THAT CREATING HURDLES FOR US TO HELP US SOLVE IT?

YEAH, AND IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE THIS DEFINITION CHANGED THROUGHOUT HISTORY.

WHEN WE FIRST STARTED CREATING THIS DEFINITION, IT WAS PEOPLE PAYING NO MORE THAN A QUARTER OF THEIR INCOME ON HOUSING COSTS.

THAT WAS CONSIDERED THE RIGHT AMOUNT TO PAY.

THAT GOT CHANGED TO 30% BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

THESE ARE REALLY ALL FEDERAL GOVERNMENT STANDARDS.

AND NOW IS EVEN SOMETIMES CREEPING UP TO 35%. SAME THING WITH AREA MEDIAN INCOME.

THE STANDARDS OF WHAT WE CONSIDER AFFORDABLE IN TERMS OF INCOME LEVELS FOR CERTAIN LOW-INCOME HOUSING PROGRAMS, THOSE INCOME LEVELS HAVE KEPT GOING UP AND UP AND UP, NOT NECESSARILY BECAUSE PEOPLE'S INCOMES HAVE GONE UP, BUT BECAUSE HOUSING COSTS HAVE GONE UP, AND THAT FORMULA GETS PUT INTO THE FORMULA TO DEVELOP IT.

SO IT'S ALMOST A CATCH 22 AS THE HOUSING CRUNCH GETS WORSE AND WORSE.

PEOPLE HAVE TO PAY MORE AND MORE OF THEIR INCOME ON RENTS, KIND OF HAVE SLOWLY BEEN RATCHETING THE DEFINITION OF AFFORDABILITY UP AS THE AMOUNT WE THINK PEOPLE SHOULD BE PAY AND THE INCOME LEVEL NECESSARY.

LET ME SHIFT THE CONVERSATION.

LES TALK ABOUT THINGS THAT ARE BEING DONE NOW AND THINGS THAT NEED TO BE DONE.

I TALKED TO MAYOR ADAMS AND HIS CITY OF YES INITIATIVES.

GIVE US A SENSE OF WHAT THE ADAMS ADMINISTRATION IS DOING HERE TO TRY TO ALLEVIATE THIS HOUSING PROBLEM.

FOR US IT'S A MULTITIERED PROCESS.

WE KNOW THAT WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT WHEN WE'RE LOOKING AT NEW -- NEIGHBORHOODS THAT HAVE ZONING, WHICH IS ANTIQUATED AND NO LONGER MAKES SENSE, THAT WE TAKE THOSE OPPORTUNITIES TO CREATE NEW HOUSING LIKE WE ARE ALREADY DOING.

ATLANTIC AVENUE IN BROOKLYN WITH A NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN WE ARE PRESENTLY WORKING ON AS WELL AS NEAR THE FOUR NEW METRO NORTH STATIONS UP IN THE BRONX, WHICH ARE COMING IN 2027, WHICH WE'RE INCREDIBLY EXCITED ABOUT.

SEE REAL OPPORTUNITIES AROUND MORRIS PARK.

PLUS, MOVING PRIVATE APPLICATIONS.

WHEN SOMEBODY COMES TO US WITH A PROPOSAL LIKE AN INNOVATION QUEEN OR INNOVATIVE URBAN VILLAGE, THESE VERY SIGNIFICANT PRIVATE APPLICATIONS WHERE IT IS THE PRIVATE SECTOR NOT ONLY INVESTING IN NEW YORK CITY, BUT ALSO DELIVERING THAT MUCH NEEDED AFFORDABLE HOUSING AS A PERCENTAGE OF THEIR PROJECT, WE WANT TO MOVE THOSE PROJECTS QUICKLY.

WE WANT TO DO THEM WITH AS LITTLE PAIN AS POSSIBLE, PROVIDED THAT THEY ARE SUPPORTING OUR BROADER CITY POLICY GROELS.

AND FINALLY, THE MAYOR IS PROPOSING AND WE ARE ADVANCING A CITYWIDE TEXT AMENDMENT, WHICH IS TO CHANGE THE TEXT OF THE ZONING CITYWIDE TO UNLEASH LOTS MORE HOUSING IN EVERY CORNER OF THE CITY TO DO MORE, MAKE SURE THAT EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD IS DOING THEIR SHARE.

WE HAVE THOUGHTS OF HOW TO DO THAT IN HIGH DENSITY AREAS.

WE HAVE THOUGHTS OF HOW TO DO THAT IN LOW DENSITY AREAS.

IT INCLUDES ELIMINATING UNNECESSARY PARKING REQUIREMENTS AND OFFICE CONVERSIONS AND EVERYTHING WE THINK WE CAN POSSIBLY DO TO ADDRESS THIS CRISIS CITYWIDE.

SO IT'S A BIG, YOU KNOW, COMPLIMENT OF EFFORTS THAT ALL COME TOGETHER, ALL WORK TOGETHER.

AND YOU KNOW, WE ARE SO GRATEFUL TO HAVE PARTNERS LIKE COUNCIL MEMBERS LIKE SANCHEZ ON THE COUNCIL BECAUSE WE KNOW THERE'S A PARTNERSHIP AND WE HAVE A LOT DO.

PIERINA, DAN MENTIONS THE COUNCIL AND TRYING TO WORK TOGETHER.

OBVIOUSLY A WONDERFUL IDEA, AND DOESN'T ALWAYS HAPPEN, FOR LEGITIMATE REASONS.

FOR LEGITIMATE REASONS.

FROM YOUR POSITION AS A COUNCIL MEMBER, HOW ARE YOU ASSESSING THE INITIATIVES FROM MAYOR ADAMS AND HIS ADMINISTRATION?

AND ARE THERE THINGS THAT THE COUNCIL CAN AND SHOULD BE DOING THEMSELVES?

NO, ABSOLUTELY.

I MEAN, I AM -- I'M ALSO GRATEFUL FOR THE PARTNERSHIP OF CHAIR GARODNICK AND THE WAY THE ADMINISTRATION IS THINKING ABOUT AFFORDABLE HOUSING I THINK IS THE WAY THAT WE SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT IT -- HOW DO YOU MAKE IT EASIER TO BUILD IN HOW DO YOU GET RID OF ALL THIS RED TAPE?

THINGS THAT ARE COMMON SENSE LIKE WE NEED AFFORDABLE HOUING IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK.

LET'S BUILD MORE.

LET'S RELIEVE THE ROADBLOCKS.

ABSOLUTELY WE SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT THOSE, AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT THESE SET OF INITIATIVES WILL HELP THE CITY TO DO.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME, I ALSO WANT TO -- I CONTINUE TO PUSH THE MAYOR, CONTINUE TO PUSH THE ADMINISTRATION.

LIKE, WE GOT TO THINK BIG, RIGHT?

WE IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK, WE HAVE TO BUILD MORE.

PART OF THAT IS UNLOCKING THE NASTY, NITTY-GRITTY DETAILED POLICIES THAT GET IN THE WAY OF CONSTRUCTION AND PRODUCTION.

BUT ALSO A BIG PART OF THAT IS THINKING ABOUT, YOU KNOW, HOW DO WE CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO?

THERE ARE PLACES IN NEW YORK CITY THAT STILL HAVE SINGLE FAMILY HOMES.

HOW DO WE DENSEFY THOSE?

HOW DO WE THINK ABOUT EMPTY OFFICE SPACE IN MANHATTAN RIGHT NOW?

WE COULD BE THINKING ABOUT AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN THOSE AREAS.

BUT I THINK FOR ME, AGAIN, WE ALWAYS TALK ABOUT SUPPLY, AND IT'S IMPORTANT TO TALK ABOUT SUPPLY, BUT WE GOT TO BE PUTTING STRINGS ATTACHED TO THESE RELATIONSHIPS WITH DEVELOPERS.

I THINK ABOUT IT LIKE DATING.

YES, THERE'S STRINGS ATTACHED.

THE STRINGS ATTACH SECOND DOWN YOU'RE GOING TO BUILD FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT MOST AND YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE IT AT THE LOWER INCOME LEVELS, BECAUSE WE CAN'T JUST PRODUCE, PRODUCE, PRODUCE, WE HAVE TO PRODUCE FOR THOSE THAT NEED IT THE MOST, THE PEOPLE OF COLOR ARE DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED HERE, LOW INCOME NEW YORKERS, LGBTQ NEW YORKERS SENIORS.

WE HAVE TO BE VERY INTENTIONAL.

YOU BOTH TALKED ABOUT GETTING THINGS DONE MORE QUICKLY, MORE EFFICIENTLY -- MAYBE THAT'S A BETTER WORD TO USE HERE.

MOSES, I'LL ASK YOU THIS QUESTION, AS SOMEONE WHO'S NOT DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN THE GOVERNMENT PROCESS, IF YOU WILL.

I WAS STUCK BY A COUPLE THINGS I SAW IN LOOKING AT THIS, AND ONE IS THE NOTION OF HOW LONG IT TAKES ON AVERAGE -- I SAW A NUMBER OF TWO AND A HALF YEARS FOR AN APPLICATION TO GET WORKED THROUGH.

THE ADDED COST TO THAT THAT GETS PILED ON TOP OF THE -- FOR THE APPLICATION PROCESS.

AND I WAS ALSO STRUCK BY A NUMBER -- AGAIN, YOU CAN TELL ME IF IT'S ACCURATE AREN'T, BUT SOMEWHERE AROUND 40% OF APPLICATIONS ARE WITHDRAWN OR BASICALLY THEY'RE TOLD NO, IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

IF YOU LOOK AT THAT, THAT CERTAINLY SEEMS TO BE A RECIPE FOR NOT GETTING THE THINGS DONE WE'RE ALL TALKING ABOUT HERE.

MOSES, AS THE OUTSIDER, HOW DOES THAT PART OF IT GET FIXED?

SO, WE'RE REALLY EXCITED ABOUT WHAT THE CITY OF YES ZONING AMENDMENT IS, BECAUSE IT DOES PRECISELY THAT.

TIME IS MONEY WHEN IT COMES TO DEVELOPMENT, AND MONEY IS FEASIBILITY, AND IF THINGS BECOME TOO LONG, TOO EXPENSIVE, THEY DON'T GET DONE, AND THAT -- I'M NOT SURPRISED THAT 40% OF APPLICATIONS GET WITHDRAWN OR REJECTED, BUT THAT'S NOT EVEN COUNTING THE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE WHO DON'T EVEN PLAY BECAUSE THEY DON'T THINK IT'S GOING TO GET THROUGH THE PROCESS.

AND THE OTHER THING IS THAT THE PEOPLE WHO CAN AFFORD THE TIME AND THE MONEY AND TO GO THROUGH THE PROCESS ARE DISPROPORTIONATELY AND ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY LARGE, WELL CAPITALIZED DEVELOPERS.

AND WE'VE REALLY LOST OUR ECOSYSTEM FOR SMALL AND MIDSIZED DEVELOPERS TO BE ABLE TO OPERATE IN NEW YORK, A LOT OF WHOM ARE NONPROFITS, FIRMS.

THEY DON'T HAVE THOSE OPPORTUNITIES SIMPLY BECAUSE GOING THROUGH THE PROCESS IS JUST TOO MUCH.

SO, THE 'CITY OF YES' ZONING AMENDMENTS ARE REALLY DESIGNED TO GET A LOT MORE WHAT WE CALL AS OF RIGHT DEVELOPMENT DONE IN NEW YORK CITY.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN, MOSES?

MEANS THINGS THAT DON'T HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE ENTIRE -- THE LONGEST LAND USE PROCESS THAT WE HAVE, WHICH IS THE UNIFORM LAND USE REVIEW PROCESS, OR ULER.

IT'S THINGS THAT ARE ABLE TO BE DONE MORE QUICKLY WITH LESS PAPER WORK, LESS RED TAPE, AND ARE ABLE TO KIND OF HAVE A LITTLE MORE SOLIDITY IN TERMS OF KNOWING, OKAY, WE'RE GOING TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS AND GET IT DONE AT THE END OF THE DAY, AND I THINK THAT'S REALLY GOING TO HELP RESTORE OUR SMALL AND MIDSIZE DEVELOPMENTS AND ALSO THE BUSINESSES AND JOBS THAT GO LONG WITH THAT.

DAN, YOU HAVE A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE HERE, HAVING BEEN A COUNCIL MEMBER BEFORE, AND NOW IN THE POSITION THAT YOU'RE IN.

ANOTHER THING THAT STRUCK ME, AS I WAS SORT OF READING UP ON ALL OF THIS -- I WAS A LAWYER BEFORE I GOT INTO NEWS, BUT I WAS A TRIAL LAWYER.

HI A PARTNER OF MINE WHO DID LAND USE APPLICATIONS, AND HE USED TO SAY TO ME -- I USED TO SAY TO HIM, ACTUALLY, YOUR THINGS ARE FAR MORE CONVOLUTED AND CONFUSING AND TIME -- THAN, YOU KNOW THE THINGS THAT I TRY THAT MAYBE TOOK MONTHS TO TRY, BUT AT LEAST IT GOT OVER.

WE KNEW WHEN IT WAS GOING TO END.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT STRUCK ME WAS THE NOTION -- AND CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG ON THIS --. I'VE SEEN THE TERM MEMBER DEFERENCE USED WHICH ESSENTIALLY ALLOWS A COUNCIL MEMBER, NOT LITERALLY, TO SAY, THIS IS IN MY AREA.

I'M NOT GOING SAY IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

BUT GIVES THEM WHAT APPEARS TO THE OUTSIDER TO BE EXTRAORDINARY POWER TO, AT THE VERY LEAST, SLOW THINGS DOWN.

MAYBE FOR TRADEOFFS.

AND I'M NOT SAYING THAT'S A BAD THING.

BUT AGAIN, FROM THE OUTSIDE, IT LOOKS LIKE, IS THIS THE MOST EFFICIENT WAY OF GETTING THINGS DONE?

WHAT'S THE ANSWER TO THAT?

IT'S A HARD QUESTION, AND IT'S A HARD, YOU KNOW, CONCEPT TO PUT A SPECIFIC DEFINITION TO AS TO WHAT MEMBER DEFERENCE IS.

WHEN I WAS IN THE CITY COUNCIL IN MATTERS THAT WERE COMING UP IN MY LOCAL AREA, I DID FEEL LIKE AT LEAST MY VOICE SHOULD BE AMPLIFIED BECAUSE I WAS THE LOCAL GUY, AND I THOUGHT THAT WAS IMPORTANT.

BUT IT WAS NEVER AN ABSOLUTE.

IT WAS NEVER A, 'YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO VETO THIS.'

IT WAS ALWAYS A 'YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO HAVE YOUR VOICE AMPLIFIED IN THIS CONVERSATION', AND I THINK THAT THAT'S OKAY.

THE AREA I THINK IT BECOMES PROBLEMATIC IF IT IS PERCEIVED OR IN FACT IS A VETO, THAT IS NOT WHAT IT IS INTENDED TO BE AND IT'S NOT WHAT IT SHOULD BE.

AND I ACTUALLY THINK WHAT YOU'RE SEEING IN THE COUNCIL IS HAPPENING IN REALTIME -- MEMBERS WITH IMPORTANT PROJECTS COMING IN THEIR DISTRICTS ARE MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD.

THEY'RE SHAPING THEM.

THEY ARE REVISING THEM.

THEY'RE MOVING THEM IN THE DIRECTION THAT THEY WANT TO MOVE THEM.

AND THEY ARE GETTING THEM DONE.

AND THAT IS -- THAT IS A PROCESS THAT IS DEFINED BY THE CITY CHARTER.

YOU KNOW, THE DEFERENCE, NOT OFFICIALLY, BUT THE PROCESS OF THE COUNCIL, YOU KNOW, MOVING AND SHAPING, TAKING THE THINGS WE SEND FROM THE CITY PLANNING COMMISSION, BOROUGH BOARD COMMENTS ON, AND THE COUNCIL HAS WITH THE SUPPORT OF COLLEAGUES AND SPEAKER THE ABILITY TO SHAPE THESE PROPOSALS.

AND I WOULD ARGUE THAT IS FREQUENTLY A POSITIVE THING.

AND WE AT CITY PLANNING COMMISSION, WE WANT TO BE A SUPPORT IN THAT.

WE UNDERSTAND THAT THESE ARE COMPLICATED I CERTAINLY UNDERSTAND THESE ARE COMPLICATED AS A GUY WHO'S LIVED THROUGH MORE THAN MY SHARE OF REZONINGS ON THE COUNCIL SIDE.

WE GET IT AND WANT TO BE SUPPORTIVE IN THESE PROCESSES.

PIERINA, I'LL ASK YOU BECAUSE YOU'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF IT NOW AS THE COUNCIL MEMBER.

HOW DOES THIS GET RESOLVED?

FROM THE VIEW OF A COUNCIL MEMBER, IF A COUNCIL MEMBER HAS A GENUINE LEGITIMATE CONCERN FOR THE PROJECT'S IMPACT ON THEIR REGION, WHERE THEY REPRESENT?

BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, THERE'S A LEGITIMATE AND GENUINE BENEFIT FOR THE CITY AS A WHOLE TO GET SOMETHING DONE.

YOU'VE GOT A CONFLICT.

YOU'VE GOT A CLASH HERE.

HOW DOES THAT GET RESOLVED?

YEAH.

I THINK IT'S -- I JUST WANT TO AGREE SO MUCH WITH WHAT DAN IS SAYING, BECAUSE YOU'RE BORN -- FOR ME, I'M BORN AND RAISED IN THE BRONX.

I HAVE BEEN THERE MY WHOLE LIFE.

LEFT FOR COLLEGE, CAME BACK, DID URBAN PLANNING, RAN FOR OFFICE AND I KNOCKED ON 12,000 DOORS.

I KNOW WHAT MY NEIGHBORS THINK.

I KNOW WHAT I'VE HEARD FROM THEM, AND I WANT TO HAVE THE POWER TO INFLUENCE AND SHAPE PROJECTS FACING OUR COMMUNITY WITH THEIR VOICES, RIGHT?

BUT I THINK, YOU KNOW, TO DAN'S POINT ABOUT IT'S NOT ABSOLUTE, I THINK AT THE END OF THE DAY WHEN I'M LOOKING AT MY COLLEAGUES WHO HAVE DIFFICULT PROJECTS BEFORE THEM, MY FIRST QUESTION, IS WHAT ARE MY VALUES AN INDIVIDUAL BOARD MEMBER?

MY VALUES ARE BRINGING EQUITY AND OPPORTUNITY AND FIGHTING THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRISIS AND ALL OF THESE, RIGHT?

AND THEN WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS THAT THE MEMBER IS SAYING IF THEY'RE AGAINST A PROJECT?

WELL, I DON'T LIKE SHADOWS.

THAT'S NOT A VALUE THAT I HAVE, SO IF THEIR CENTRAL CONCERN IS ABOUT SHADOWS, AND THAT'S WHY THEY DON'T WANT TO BUILD A BUNCH OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING, I MAY NOT BE WITH THEM ON THAT ONE.

BUT WHAT THEY SAY -- THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED WITH MY COLLEAGUE JULIE WANN JUST A WEEK AGO.

IF WHAT SHE'S SAYING IS NO, THIS PROJECT DOESN'T GO FAR ENOUGH.

WE NEED DEEPER AFFORDABILITY, THAT'S VALUE FOR ME AND SO MANY OF THE MEMBERS.

I NEED TO BACK HER UP SO SHE CAN GET EVERYTHING SHE CAN GET FOR THE COMMUNITY AND FOR THE CITY OF NEW YORK.

I THINK IT WILL ALWAYS BOIL DOWN TO THAT QUESTION OF, WHAT ARE THE VALUES YOU HAVE AS AN INDIVIDUAL MEMBER?

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE CITY NEED AS A WHOLE?

AND HOW DO YOU EVALUATE WHAT YOUR COLLEAGUE IS TELLING YOU ABOUT WHY THEY ARE FOR OR AGAINST OR WANT TWEAKS AND CHANGES MADE TO A PROJECT?

MOSES, LET ME ASK YOU THIS.

I THINK THIS CONVERSATION YOU'RE GOING TO BE HAVING NEXT TUESDAY IS GOING TO BE FASCINATING.

PEOPLE SHOULD PLUG INTO THIS.

WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THINGS THAT NEED TO BE DONE.

LET ME ASK YOU, ONCE AGAIN AS SOMEBODY WHO'S THE OUTSIDER LOOKING INTO IT, ARE YOU SEEING PROJECTS TAKING PLACE NOW THAT YOU'RE ABLE TO POINT TO AND SAY, THERE, RIGHT THERE, THAT'S A GOOD SIGN.

THAT'S THE KIND OF THING WE SHOULD BE DOING?

A COUPLE THINGS OUT THERE THAT MIGHT FIT INTO THAT CATEGORY.

ABSOLUTELY.

I'LL GIVE YOU TWO.

IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO BE ABLE TO, LIKE THE OTHER PANELISTS POINTED OUT, TO BUILD AFFORDABLE HOUSING EVERYWHERE IN NEW YORK CITY IN DIFFERENT NEIGHBORHOODS.

AND FOR A LONG TIME WE'VE KIND OF STAYED AWAY FOR A COUPLE TYPES OF NEIGHBORHOODS.

WE STAYED AWAY FROM TRYING TO BUILD A LOT MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN THE WEALTHY MANHATTAN NEIGHBORHOODS AND WE STAYED AWAY FROM TRYING TO BUILD AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN A LOT OF THE SUBURBAN LOW RISE ALSO PRETTY WEALTHY AND PRETTY WHITE NEIGHBORHOODS OF THE OUTER BOROUGHS.

AND THAT'S SOMETHING THAT IN THE LAST -- IN THE END OF THE LAST ADMINISTRATION, THIS WAS A REZONING OF SOHO NOHO TO BE ABLE TO BUILD MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING THERE.

AND IN THIS ADMINISTRATION, SOMETHING IMPORTANT THAT I THINK HAPPENED WAS IN THE EAST BRONX, WHICH IS A PRETTY MIDDLE TO UPPER MIDDLE CLASS SUBURBAN NEIGHBORHOOD OUT IN FROG'S NECK, THERE WAS A PROPOSAL TO BUILD A REALLY GOOD DEVELOPMENT.

I WANT TO SAY ALMOST HALF OR MAYBE OVER HALF AFFORDABLE, REPLACING A GROCERY STORE SO THEY COULD UPDATE SOME OF THAT COMMUNITY AMENITY AND COMMERCIAL SPACE, HOUSING FOR VETERANS.

JUST A REALLY GOOD PROJECT AND THE KIND THAT NEW YORK NEEDS THAT ENCOUNTERS A LOT OF VOCIFEROUS OPPOSITION.

I WOULD CALL A LOT OF THE OPPOSITION BAD FAITH VITRIOLIC, AND THE CITY, THE LOCAL COUNCIL MEMBER COMMITTED TO GETTING IT THROUGH AND GETTING IT DONE, AND SAYING, NO, THIS IS THE TYPE OF DEVELOPMENT NEW YORK CITY NEEDS.

WE UNDERSTAND THAT YOU HAVEN'T HAD THIS CONVERSATION YET ABOUT NEEDING MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

BUT YOU DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO JUST VETO EVERYTHING.

THAT IF THERE'S SOMETHING WE NEED BOTH FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND FOR THE CITY AS A WHOLE, WE HAVE TO LOOK AT EVERYWHERE, AND WE HAVE TO LOOK AT SOME OF THOSE NEIGHBORHOODS THAT HAVEN'T BEEN IN THE CONVERSATION OVER THE LAST 10, 20, EVEN LONGER KIND OF YEAR, AND I THINK THAT'S VITALLY IMPORTANT.

I WILL NOTE IF I CAN ABOUT THAT PARTICULAR PROJECT, THAT WAS A NEIGHBORHOOD WHICH PRODUCED ABOUT 60 UNITS OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING OVER THE PRIOR SEVEN YEARS.

SO, YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU'RE TALKING AT A GOOD PROJECT, THE WAY MOSES WAS DESCRIBING IT, HAD GREAT COMPONENT PARTS TO IT, SUPPORT FOR SENIORS, AFFORDABLE HOUSING ON A WIDE STREET, AND YOU KNOW, IN A DISTRICT WHICH HAD PRODUCED NEXT TO NOTHING AS IT RELATES TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING IS THE POINT I BELIEVE THAT PIERINA IS MAKING, CERTAINLY MOSES IS MAKING ABOUT THE NEED TO ENSURE THAT LOW DENSITY DISTRICTS, OR WHAT HAD HISTORICALLY BEEN, ALSO HAVE TO BE PART OF THIS CONVERSATION TO DO THEIR SHARE TO DELIVER HOUSING FOR THE CITY, A CITY WHICH NEEDS IT AND WHERE WE HAVE NOT SEEN NEARLY ENOUGH.

GOT ABOUT A MINUTE AND A HALF LEFT.

P PIERINA, LET ME COME TO YOU.

LAST WORD.

MY QUESTION HERE IS -- AND WHAT WE'RE HEARING IS FASCINATING AND ENCOURAGING, BUT ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC THAT THE CITY IS IN A POSITION TO -- HAS BOTH THE POLITICAL WILL, THE POLITICAL CAPITAL AND THE FINANCIAL WHEREWITHAL TO MAKE PROGRESS IN TERMS OF THIS AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROBLEM?

I AM OPTIMISTIC.

I WOULDN'T HAVE RUN FOR OFFICE AND BEEN IN THIS ROLE IF I DIDN'T THINK THAT IT WAS POSSIBLE TO MAKE A CHANGE HERE.

BUT I DO BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THE -- WE HAVE TO THINK ABOUT AFFORDABLE HOUSING PRODUCTION IN THE LONG-TERM AS WELL.

SO WE HAVE TO BE TARGETED AND TARGET THOSE THAT NEED TO HOUSING THE MOST, NEED THE SUBSIDY DOLLARS THE MOST.

BUT WE ALSO HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT WE'RE CREATING AFFORDABILITY AND PERPETUITY, BECAUSE SO MUCH OF WHAT HAPPENS IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK IS THAT WE SUBSIDIZE PROJECTS AND THEN IN 15 YEARS, 20 YEARS, 30 YEARS NEW YORK LONGER.

NOW IT'S MARKET RATE AND NOW YOUR RENT CAN GO UP FROM $800 A MONTH -- PROBABLY NOT THAT, BUT FROM WHATEVER IT IS NOW TO $2,000, $3,000, $4,000 A MONTH.

SO WE HAVE TO -- I'M OPTIMISTIC, BUT WE ALSO HAVE TO BE REALLY INTENTIONAL WITH HOW WE CRAFT THESE POLICIES AND HOW THEY ALL WORK TOGETHER.

REMINDER AGAIN THAT YOU CAN SEE ALL THREE OF OUR GUESTS HERE THIS TUESDAY DECEMBER 6th AT THE SOLUTIONS TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN NEW YORK CITY AND STATE EVENT.

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT US AT METRO FOCUS.ORG.

THANK YOU.

AS I SAID, I THINK THIS IS GOING TO BE A FASCINATING SESSION AND INFORMATIONAL AND PROVOCATIVE SESSION.

I THINK IT'S GOING TO MAKE PEOPLE THINK, AND I THINK THAT'S IN MANY WAYS ALL OF OUR RESPONSIBILITIES HERE.

LET'S MAKE PEOPLE THINK AND THEN THEY CAN STEP FORWARD AND PRESENT SOLUTIONS.

THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU.

LOOK FORWARD TO SPENDING TIME WITH YOU SOON.

TAKE CARE NOW.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, ANTI-SEMITISM, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

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