Brooklyn Heights

Stringer criticizes de Blasio affordable housing plan

Says city should engage each community in process

December 2, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Comptroller Scott Stringer says the affordable housing plan could have “enormous financial ramifications” for the city. Eagle photo by Shlomo Sprung
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Charging that “a one-size-fits-all approach” to rezoning doesn’t work in a complicated, diverse metropolis like New York, New York City Comptroller Scott Stinger criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious and controversial affordable housing plan.

“This plan must change,” Stringer candidly told the Brooklyn Eagle on Tuesday.

Instead of proposing a massive rezoning plan across the city to accommodate the construction of hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units, the de Blasio administration should be working with each community on an individual basis to ascertain their needs and alleviate their concerns, Stringer said.

Under de Blasio’s plan, called Housing New York, certain neighborhoods would be up-zoned, with developers allowed to construct taller buildings than had been previously permitted so that affordable housing units could be created.

The de Blasio administration is seeking to create 200,000 affordable housing units over a 10-year period.

The problem with the rezoning approach, according to Stringer, is that it doesn’t take into account the individual needs of each community. “You must do it with the local community,” he said. “There are a lot of moving parts to a major rezoning. Some neighborhoods will need different alternatives.”

Stringer said he would prefer to see the city “unleash urban planners” to work with communities individually and come up with a multi-pronged plan.

Rezoning and building affordable housing could have “enormous financial ramifications” for New York, said Stringer, who, as comptroller, is the city’s financial watchdog.

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Stringer is holding a Brooklyn town hall on Thursday, Dec. 3, where residents can discuss a variety of issues. The town hall will take place the Brooklyn Music School, 126 Saint Felix St., from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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Stringer also expressed concern over the rezoning plan for East New York, the first neighborhood in the city that will be impacted by Housing New York.

“We have to make sure we are building housing that people can afford,” he said. There are currently 200,000 people living in non-rent regulated apartments in East New York who could be displaced, he said.

The mayor’s plan is coming under increasing fire from community boards across the city that have raised a variety of objections to it. To date, 12 of Brooklyn’s 18 community boards have given de Blasio a thumbs-down on his plan.

Community Board 10, which covers Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, voted on Nov. 16 to reject Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, a key element of the plan.

Board 10 cited concerns over a number of issues, including zoning changes, whether the plan will create housing that is truly affordable and what board members charged was a rushed process that did not allow enough time to study the plan and make an informed decision on its merits.

Board 10 members said they are concerned that any rezoning would alter the density and scale of the Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights communities in a negative way. “CB10 has long recognized that, although made of bricks and mortar, the character of our neighborhood is nonetheless extremely delicate and can be easily eroded without vigilance,” the community board said in a statement.

The Board 10 vote, like other votes taken by community boards around the city, is nonbinding. The city’s 59 community boards serve in an advisory capacity only.

The city’s five borough presidents will also get to weigh in on the rezoning proposal. The plan will eventually come before the City Council for a vote.

On Nov. 30, de Blasio shot back at the criticism leveled at his plan by community boards. The mayor charged that the boards have often balked at the idea of making big changes.

“Those advisory votes are meaningful but they aren’t the final word. And look, we also know that community boards are often negatively, you know, when it comes to anything that might be new development in the community, often negatively disposed,” the New York Observer quoted de Blasio as saying.

And while he was critical of the city’s approach, Stringer acknowledged that there is an affordable housing crisis in the city and said something has to be done. “We have to build this housing,” he told the Eagle.

 


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