This week, the City of New York released the draft, Where We Live NYC, fair housing assessment report. They will hold a hearing at DCP on February 6th and seek public comments by March 7th. 
The City of New York has engaged hundreds of residents, over 150 community-based and advocacy organizations, including NYHC, through the process over the last 2 years to discuss the history of housing discrimination, assess how it is affecting residents, housing, and neighborhoods today and create a plan to address persistent disparities. The plan is separated into 6 key goals that will guide the City’s work in advancing fair housing over the next five years as follows:

  1. Combat persistent, complex discrimination with expanded resources and protections.
  2. Facilitate equitable housing development in New York City and the region.
  3. Preserve affordable housing and prevent displacement of long-standing residents.
  4. Enable more effective use of rental assistance benefits, especially in amenity-rich neighborhoods.
  5. Create more independent and integrated living options for people with disabilities.
  6. Make equitable investments to address the neighborhood-based legacy of discrimination, segregation, and concentrated poverty.

The report identifies dozens of strategies and actions are under consideration to address persistent discrimination in the housing market of recommendations to review, explore and study, as well as some concrete policy and programmatic changes. It is worth reviewing the full set of recommendations. Below, are some of highlights of proposed strategies impacting affordable housing.

  • Funding for housing discrimination testers. (Amount not specified- State funding is also a NYHC priority)
  • New task force to recommend zoning, land use, and other regulatory actions to promote equitable growth. (Potentially significant but there is limited time left in de Blasio Administration for implementation)
  • Restrict the use of middle-income options under the 421-a tax incentive program in neighborhoods where market conditions allow for new housing development without them. (This is a major departure from current policy and will help reduce saturation of units at 130% AMI)
  • Establish a working group with local governments in the tri-state metropolitan area to develop a regional housing and transit agenda. (Regional solutions are needed!)
  • Develop new assessment tools to help ensure that decisions on the location and type of affordable housing investments, including new affordable housing on NYCHA land, further the goals of the Fair Housing Plan. (Could mean a departure from current infill strategy in NYCHA 2.0)
  • Track and annually publish data on housing and affordable housing development activity at the neighborhood level, as well as demographic and socioeconomic data, to inform priorities in decision-making.
  • Explore City legislation to address housing discrimination based on residents’ involvement with the criminal justice system. (NYHC is working with affordable and fair housing advocates to also exploring state legislation)
  • Explore opportunities to accelerate land use review and remove obstacles to the approval of affordable housing development. (We are thinking about this in United For Housing)
  • Review the effect that historic districts have on the supply of housing. (NYU Furman Center produced research on this in the past)
  • Evaluate potential changes to the set asides in HPD-assisted housing for people with disabilities.
  • Develop standardized race and social equity tools to help evaluate and guide the City’s capital planning and budgeting processes.
  • In key neighborhoods that have historically experienced disinvestment, conduct community-based planning processes, such as the Brownsville Plan, to ensure government policies and capital plans are informed by a diversity of local perspectives. (Many electives and advocates have been calling for this type of approach to community planning)
  • Develop social service plans for neighborhoods that experience the highest concentration of major felony crime, focusing on restorative practices and neighborhood-based coordination that amplify residents’ voices and participation.
  • On NYCHA campuses, remove physical barriers that cut NYCHA residents off from opportunities by working with residents and neighboring communities to re-map public ways, reduce perimeter fencing, and introduce better signage through NYCHA’s Connected Communities initiative.
  • Study the impact of key HPD homeownership programs on the long-term financial health of households.

Again, these are just some of the recommendations that caught our attention. The full report offers a comprehensive list along with an outline for an implementation plan listing responsible City agencies.
NYHC applauds NYC for their leadership in voluntarily creating a robust process for Where We Live and producing a useful and thoughtful draft plan to advance fair housing and racial equity efforts across this city. There is much more progress that needs to be made but given the federal efforts to weaken fair housing enforcement referenced below, this local effort is an excellent start towards meaningful change.