Mayor Adams, Building Trades Council, And Cirrus Partner To Construct Affordable Housing In NYC

March 8, 2024

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and Vicinity (BCTC) President Gary LaBarbera.

Including Cirrus Workforce Housing Advisors, LP (Cirrus) today announced a first-of-its-kind partnership to build workforce housing — housing at greater affordability levels — in New York City designed for essential workers. Pension funds affiliated with BCTC members and other Building Trades unions, along with Cirrus, have pledged more than $100 million in an initial fundraising stage to invest in a series of multi-family workforce housing development and redevelopment projects in New York City at levels their members can afford. Cirrus expects to raise a total of over $400 million for this initiative. 

To support the new effort, the City of New York has signed a historic memorandum of understanding with BCTC and Cirrus to facilitate the development of affordable housing, including workforce housing, to meet the crisis of undersupply facing New York City. The agreement demonstrates how government, labor, and private enterprise can partner to build the city out of the housing crisis and comes as state lawmakers consider a package of new affordable housing tools and the Adams administration’s historic “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity” nears the beginning of the city’s public review process.

“As the blue-collar mayor of America’s biggest union town, I have been clear that our mission is to create good-paying jobs and make our city more livable for hardworking New Yorkers,” said Mayor Adams. “This first-of-its-kind agreement will help build housing that is affordable for the New Yorkers who have built our city and help New York City lead on the affordable housing crisis facing our nation.”


“New York City is a union town — and our union workers should be able to afford to live here,” said Chief Advisor to the Mayor Ingrid P. Lewis-Martin. “This innovative partnership will put as much as half a billion dollars towards building more homes that workers can afford. I’m grateful to our partners in labor and development for joining us in our shared mission to ensure that everyone can make it here in New York City.”

“Creating housing for working people exemplifies the innovation of this administration” said First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright. “This public-private partnership is one new model for what housing finance can look like and creates space that working New Yorkers can afford. I thank BCTC and Cirrus for their partnership, and for helping us lead by example to fight our housing crisis.”

“The data is clear: We need more housing, especially housing that working New Yorkers can afford —  and this innovative public-private partnership will deliver just that,” said Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack. “By investing in our workers and our city’s future, our partnership will help us build a city where all New Yorkers can make it.”

“Combatting our housing crisis requires innovative solutions, new sources of capital, and strong partnerships,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development, and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer. “This path-breaking new partnership between the City of New York, the Building and Construction Trades, and Cirrus Workforce Housing is yet another demonstration of the administration’s unrelenting commitment to using every tool available to bring relief for working-class New Yorkers.”

“The Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and Vicinity is proud to be part of this historic partnership with the City of New York and Cirrus,” said Gary LaBarbera, president, BCTC. “This partnership will lead to the development of affordable workforce housing under negotiated Project Labor Agreements that will create family sustaining union careers for New Yorkers. We believe that the union funds investing in this program have demonstrated tremendous vision and we look forward to building the housing supply for the city’s working class.”

“Cirrus is excited to align as part of a public-private partnership with the City of New York and organized labor in an innovative, first-of-its-kind program that will provide much needed workforce housing for those who make the city work,” said Joe McDonnell, managing partner, Cirrus Real Estate Partners.

Released last month, the New York City Housing Vacancy Survey showed that its vacancy rate has dropped to its lowest since 1968, with many middle- and low- income New Yorkers experiencing increasing rent burden. For more than a century, government and labor have partnered together to build housing that the union workforce and other working-class residents can afford. More than 100,000 New Yorkers live in apartments built by the labor movement between 1926 and 1974, the majority through an organization called the United Housing Foundation.

To help combat the housing and affordability crisis, BCTC — in partnership with Cirrus — is pooling pension funds from eleven union funds. The goal is to invest in New York City-based housing projects that will deliver affordability at 80 to 140 percent area median income, and that is located near transit, that advances sustainable building goals, and that will be constructed under a negotiated project labor agreement with BCTC reflecting responsible contracting policies to advance fair wages, health and retirement benefits, and apprenticeships and other job training programs.

The new agreement outlines opportunities to create more affordable housing, including, as appropriate, by partnering on mixed-income housing projects with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development; helping to accelerate qualified projects by enrolling them in the Adams administration’s Housing-at-Risk Task Force; exploring opportunities for financing and development through partner entities, such as the New York City Housing Development Corporation and the New York City Economic Development Corporation; and leveraging city-owned properties to create affordable housing, among other areas.

The agreement also builds on the Adams administration’s efforts to use every tool at its disposal to accelerate housing production and deliver the affordability New Yorkers need and deserve. Earlier this week, Mayor Adams announced a new initiative to provide up to $50 million to help Minority Business Enterprises developers overcome historical financial barriers and fully participate in the development of critically needed affordable housing for New Yorkers. Additionally, this past calendar year, Mayor Adams announced the city had closed on financing for the creation of an all-time record 14,227 new affordable homes and directly connected more New Yorkers to homes than ever before in the city’s history, bringing nearly 13,000 households into affordable units.

To accelerate housing production and deliver relief to New Yorkers, the Adams administration has advanced a number of creative solutions, including its “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity” proposal to build 100,000 additional homes through significant pro-housing reforms to the city’s zoning code; an office conversation acceleratornew proposed rules to streamline approvals for sustainable housing; and several pilot programs to help fund the creation of accessory dwelling unitshelp move New Yorkers out of shelters and into renovated apartments, and fuel mixed-income development in neighborhoods across the city; among other innovative efforts.

Photo credit: HWM.



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