Mayor Adams Initiates Review of ‘City of Yes’ Housing Opportunity Proposal

April 29, 2024

New York City Mayor Eric Adams today rallied with working-class New Yorkers to kickoff the start of public review on “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity,” the most pro-housing proposal in New York City’s history.

The proposal would enable the creation of “a little more housing in every neighborhood” through a set of carefully crafted zoning changes — which has not been done in more than half a century — to increase overall housing supply. The New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) released the draft environmental impact statement of the proposal, which estimates it could produce as many as 108,850 new homes over the next 15 years. As New York City faces a generational housing crisis with just a 1.4 percent rental vacancy rate, the Adams administration is proposing bold, forward-thinking solutions to deliver the housing that New Yorkers need. Public review officially begins today when DCP refers the proposal to community boards and borough presidents. At the end of the public review process, City of Yes for Housing Opportunity will be voted on by the New York City Council by the end of the year.

“For too long, New York City has been at the mercy at folks who have said ‘no.’ In our administration, we continue to proudly say ‘yes’ — ‘yes’ to building more affordable housing in my backyard, in my neighborhood, and on my block,” said Mayor Adams. “Today, the City Council is kicking off the public review process for our ‘City of Yes for Housing Opportunity’ proposal —the most ambitious pro-housing proposal in New York City’s history. To address this housing crisis, we need to think bigger and act faster, and that’s what our plan does. We are calling our city council members to listen to New Yorkers in need of more affordable housing and say ‘yes’ to the ‘City of Yes for Housing Opportunity.’”

“‘City of Yes for Housing Opportunity’ is a bold initiative aimed at revitalizing New York’s housing landscape,” said First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright. “By reforming zoning laws, we are not only addressing the pressing need for affordable and accessible housing, but also laying the foundation for a more inclusive and equitable future. This proposal reflects our commitment to fostering vibrant communities and builds upon what the Adams administration has already accomplished, such as financing a record number of affordable homes in 2023. We are committed to working with the City Council to change what housing looks like in New York City, and ensuring every New Yorker can thrive.”


“To solve our severe housing crisis, the solution is simple: we need to build more homes,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development, and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer. “The ‘City of Yes for Housing Opportunity’ proposal is a bold plan to create the most pro-housing changes in the history of our zoning code by an equally simple solution of distributing new housing more equally across the city. Kicking off the public review process is a critical milestone in moving this impactful work forward, ensuring that working-class families can continue to live in the greatest city on Earth.”

“The time has come for action on New York’s housing crisis. By building a little more housing in every neighborhood, we can set our city on course for a more affordable future,” said New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) Director and City Planning Commission (CPC) Chair Dan Garodnick. “The invisible walls that prevent housing in too many of our neighborhoods are driving high rents, displacement pressure, homelessness, and creating an imbalance of power between landlords and tenants, but our housing shortage is a policy choice. We look forward to talking with communities across the city about how this proposal would help lower housing costs across the board.”

“New York City is at a critical fork in the road — we can either continue struggling with record homelessness and housing scarcity or we can fix our broken zoning and say ‘yes’ to housing opportunity,” said New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “The diversity of our neighborhoods makes New York City remarkable, but without truly affordable housing in every corner, we risk losing families, working people, and our defining vibrancy. It’s time for bold action to ensure housing equity across all neighborhoods. Today marks the start of saying ‘yes’ to more housing, but it’s more than that. Today, we’re also saying: ‘yes’ to ensuring families can live within walking distance to public schools, ‘yes’ to opportunities for voucher holders, ‘yes’ to putting down roots near parks, and ‘yes’ to building communities not just buildings.”


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“As a citywide text amendment, the ‘City of Yes for Housing Opportunity’ is bold on its face, but simple in its message: With a little more housing in every neighborhood, we can take meaningful steps towards making our great city more affordable, more livable, and more inclusive,” said New York City Executive Director for Housing Leila Bozorg. “I commend DCP, HPD, and every partner that has played a role in shaping this proposal to reach this important step of referral to community boards, and I look forward to seeing how input from a wide range of stakeholders will help advance our shared goals. The roots of our city’s affordability challenge lay in our housing shortage, and its due time for every neighborhood to step up and play a role in housing our neighbors.”

“For far too long, efforts to create and provide affordable housing have been nothing less than a ‘City of No,’” said Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships Executive Director Pastor Gilford T. Monrose. “Myriad outdated zoning requirements have stymied our ability to think creatively and provide the avenues for our faith-based institutions to efficiently utilize their facilities for the creation of severely needed affordable housing. I commend Mayor Adams for making what has been a ‘City of No’ into a ‘City of Yes.’ All of us in the faith-based community welcome the zoning changes and review by the New York City Planning Commission, and look forward to working with our community partners to expand housing opportunities for both homeless and low-income New Yorkers.”

“From business districts to backyards, we must leave no stone unturned when it comes to creating more opportunities for affordable housing in every borough,” said “New” New York Executive Director B.J. Jones. “The Adams administration is doing just that by advancing comprehensive zoning reforms to foster inclusive growth that will benefit all New Yorkers.”

Prior to the start of public review, DCP and HPD conducted extensive outreach and engagement with New Yorkers, including 10 public information sessions, two years of meetings with impacted stakeholders, and released an annotated version of the draft zoning text along with an illustrated guide. The proposal will now be reviewed by community boards, borough presidents, and borough boards before the CPC holds a hearing and a vote this fall. If approved by the CPC, the City Council is anticipated to hold a hearing and a vote on the proposal before the end of the year.

City of Yes for Housing Opportunity is the most pro-housing set of zoning changes in New York’s history. The proposal includes lifting arbitrary and costly parking mandates for new residential construction; the Universal Affordability Preference, a bonus allowing roughly 20 percent more housing in developments, as long as the additional homes are permanently affordable at an average of 60 percent of the area median income; transit-oriented development and Town Center zoning, which would allow three-to-five story apartment buildings to be built near transit and along commercial corridors, respectively; and allowing homeowners to add accessory homes like backyard cottages.

Additional proposal components include facilitating conversion of non-residential buildings like offices to housing; re-legalizing small and shared housing models with common facilities like kitchens; allowing development on large lots known as campuses that are today limited by outdated rules from using existing development rights; and creating new zoning districts that would allow more housing, including mandatory affordable housing, that had previously been restricted by state law. City agencies are also advancing a slate of related, non-zoning efforts to guide implementation of the proposals, such as rules for HPD administration of the Universal Affordability Preference as well as technical assistance and financing tools to assist homeowners who want to add secondary homes onto their property.

In addition to City of Yes for Housing Opportunity, the Adams administration is using every tool available tool possible to address the housing crisis. The Adams administration successfully advocated for new tools in this year’s New York state budget that will spur the creation of urgently needed housing. These include: a new tax incentive for multifamily rental construction, a tax incentive program to encourage office conversions to create more affordable units, lifting the arbitrary “floor-to-area ratio” cap that held back affordable housing production in certain high-demand areas of the city, and the ability to create a pilot program to legalize and make safe basement apartments.

Under Mayor Adams’ leadership, the city financed a record number of affordable homes in 2023 and is ahead of schedule on a State of the City commitment to advance two dozen 100-percent affordable housing projects on city-owned land this year through the “24 in ‘24” initiative. Mayor Adams has also taken steps to cut red tape and speed up the delivery of much-needed housing, including through the “Green Fast Track for Housing,” a streamlined environmental review process for qualifying small- and medium-sized housing projects; the Office Conversion Accelerator, an interagency effort to guide buildings that wish to convert through city bureaucracy; and other initiatives of the Building and Land Use Approval Streamlining Taskforce.

City of Yes for Housing Opportunity is the third of the Adams administration’s three “City of Yes” initiatives to update New York City’s zoning for a more sustainable, prosperous, and affordable city. The first — “City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality”— was adopted by the City Council in December. The second — “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” was approved by the CPC on March 6 and is now being considered by the City Council. 

“New York City’s housing crisis is real, and it is especially problematic for low-income New Yorkers who increasingly have fewer or no options to move into affordable housing,” said Richard R. Buery, Jr., chief executive officer, Robin Hood; and co-chair, “New” New York Panel. “Dismantling exclusionary zoning laws, increasing the supply of affordable rental housing units, converting office space into residential dwellings, and moving New Yorkers from shelters into permanent housing are all urgently needed and welcomed reforms for an imbalanced housing market that continues to erode livability in New York City.  The mayor’s plan, ‘City of Yes for Housing Opportunity,’ is a decisive first step in the right direction.”

“Funding and building more housing will not only provide this basic need to those who need it most, but also generate thousands of good paying union careers for hardworking New Yorkers from all backgrounds,” said Gary LaBarbera, president, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “This is why we support Mayor Adams’ City of Yes initiative and applaud his commitment to addressing the housing crisis. Our members stand at the ready to get critical housing projects off the ground, all while taking the opportunity to pursue the middle class and support their families.”

“Tearing down barriers to housing growth is vital to New York City’s economic vitality,” said Dan Doctoroff, co-chair, “New” New York Panel. “To achieve the city’s moonshot goal of 500,000 units, we must build upon this year’s crucial legislative reforms and remove archaic zoning regulations that have inhibited the supply of affordable housing for too long.”

“The workers who help run this city should be able to live in it, and we need meaningful leadership on this issue to benefit all New Yorkers, said Manny Pastreich, president, 32BJ. “The City of Yes for Housing Opportunity directly addresses this challenge, amplifying housing supply and facilitating housing opportunities for our members within their cherished city. We’re grateful for the mayor’s proactive approach to this solution.”

“For too long, hospitality workers have been feeling the pinch of New York’s housing crisis. From sky-high rents to housing shortages and long commutes, the need for change is urgent,” said Rich Maroko, president, Hotel and Gaming Trades Council. “The City of Yes for Housing Opportunity is a bold zoning reform proposal poised to tackle our housing crisis head-on. This initiative opens doors to greater housing options, affordability, and stability for working families.”

“Our housing crisis demands immediate action, and for too long, some neighborhoods have been shouldering more responsibility to build new homes while others opted out. The City of Yes for Housing Opportunity will add more housing in every neighborhood,” said Rachel Fee, executive director, New York Housing Conference. “This is the most comprehensive strategy to address the city’s housing shortage in recent memory, and we’re incredibly proud to lead a group of more than 130 advocates and providers through our Yes to Housing coalition, working closely with the Adams administration and community leaders to ensure the proposed zoning changes benefit all New Yorkers.”

“The City of Yes for Housing Opportunity outlines two key strategies for curbing transportation emissions: transit-oriented development and the removal of parking mandates, which together would allow public transportation to thrive and micro-mobility alternatives to flourish, resulting in a greener, cooler, and safer city,” said Julie Tighe, president, New York League of Conservation Voters. “We applaud Mayor Adams and DCP Director and City Planning Commission Chair Dan Garodnick for embracing this vision and we look forward to advocating for COY for Housing Opportunity in the weeks and months ahead.”

“I applaud Mayor Eric Adams for his vision and leadership in the City of Yes – Yes in God’s Backyard initiative. This initiative will revitalize the faith community of the City of New York and result in essential affordable housing and social services energetically being employed in underserved communities citywide. The City of Yes is a model to be replicated nationwide. Thank you, Mayor Adams and team,” said Dr. Malcolm A. Punter, president & CEO, Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, Inc.

“Bricks and Mortals is inspired by the opportunities that faith-based organizations will have through the implementation of the City of Yes for Housing Opportunity. This legislation provides more opportunities for faith-based organizations to continue to play an integral role in supporting New Yorkers in need of housing,” said Kate Toth, executive director, Bricks and Mortals. “As chair of The Mayor’s Working Group on Faith-Based Affordable Housing & Community Development, we know it’s integral that faith-based organizations be empowered to maximize the use of their properties to better serve their communities. The City of Yes for Housing Opportunity is an important step for faith communities and for all New Yorkers.”

“We can’t solve New York City’s housing affordability crisis when fighting over every piece of land and each individual building. We need comprehensive citywide solutions, and ‘City of Yes for Housing Opportunity’ begins to do just that,” said Annemarie Gray, executive director, Open New York. “Open New York is excited to be part of a broad coalition supporting these essential changes to New York City’s outdated zoning code. These are common-sense measures to ensure every neighborhood takes part in solving our dire housing shortage. For far too long, many of the most well-resourced parts of the city have been de-facto off-limits to new residents. We look forward to working with the mayor, the City Council, and other stakeholders to ensure that the city fully embraces this opportunity to put us on the path to housing abundance.”

“The City of Yes mantra of ‘a little more housing in every neighborhood’ embodies maximizing available space to efficiently meet growing housing demands,” said Carlo A. Scissura, Esq., president and CEO, New York Building Congress. “The plan encourages repurposing underutilized space for housing and office conversions, breathing new life into neighborhoods. By allowing smaller-scale housing construction in low- and medium-density districts, we can ensure housing growth equitably distributed across the city. Our members are ready to build – City of Yes is an essential tool toward that end.”

“The Adams’ administration’s proposed City of Yes for Housing Opportunity text amendment would help reverse New York’s decades-long trend of housing production failing to keep pace with population and job growth, which is at the root of New York’s housing crisis,” said Andrew Rein, president, the Citizens Budget Commission. “It takes the right approach: update New York City’s outdated zoning rules to spur more housing – everywhere and for everyone – and do so at the scale needed to improve the housing market for current and future New Yorkers.”

“The City of Yes plan will remove major obstacles blocking the expansion of New York City’s housing supply,” said Grace Rauh, executive director, 5BORO Institute. “5BORO is proud to be part of a coalition that is prioritizing high impact policies that take aim at the root causes of our housing and affordability crisis. We urge support for these initiatives. We simply cannot afford to wait any longer to build the new housing New York desperately needs.”

“New York State needs over 800,000 more housing units over the next decade to address current needs and future demand – a nearly 10 percent increase over our current housing stock,” said Tom Wright, president & CEO, Regional Plan Association. “The crisis is particularly acute in New York City, where a vacancy rate of 1.4 percent is the lowest in a half century. City of Yes for Housing Opportunity will encourage all communities to build a little more housing. The proposals are especially critical now, as we commence historic investment and improvement to our critical transportation network thanks to unprecedented federal funds and a $50 billion MTA capital plan. We must add housing and increase density to support a virtuous cycle of investment that benefits all New Yorkers. Failure to act will worsen our housing crisis and fail to connect major infrastructure investments to thriving communities.”

“Simply put: to end the housing crisis that’s making our state unaffordable, we must build more housing,” said Valerie White, senior executive director, LISC NY. “It’s exciting to see our elected leaders saying yes to more housing by prioritizing construction of the safe, affordable homes that serve as a pathway to opportunity, which will help close the racial wealth gap.”

“As zoning has become increasingly restrictive, our housing crisis has deepened. Not only do we not have too little housing, we also lack the range of types of homes New Yorkers need, from low-density to high-density neighborhoods,” said Howard Slatkin, executive director, Citizens Housing & Planning Council. “The zoning changes proposed under the City of Yes for Housing Opportunity would help us add more and more types of housing, including ‘missing middle’ homes and smaller apartments for seniors or single adults. These changes are crucial if we are going to house more New Yorkers, better and more affordably.”

“Along with the preservation and enforcement of tenant protections, the expansion of the supply of available housing options is one of the most important strategies for addressing New York City’s ongoing housing affordability crisis,” said Aaron Carr, founder and executive director, Housing Rights Initiative. “To that end, Housing Rights Initiative is pleased to endorse City of Yes. We are especially pleased to see that the proposal includes a diversity of policies tailored to the existing built environments of different neighborhoods. This will help ensure that each and every neighborhood can equitably contribute to the shared responsibility of expanding our city’s housing supply.”

“City of Yes for Housing Opportunity advances an equitable approach to housing growth by allowing every neighborhood to contribute to solving our region’s housing supply deficit,” said Matthew Dunbar, interim co-CEO, Habitat for Humanity New York City and Westchester County. “Building an equitable New York requires dismantling systems that intentionally prevent housing from being built and unlocking opportunities across all communities. This proposal incentivizes affordable housing in new developments and reduces barriers for faith communities, transit-rich neighborhoods, and homeowners to build homes for — and with — their neighbors.”

“By eliminating antiquated and unnecessary barriers to housing development, City of Yes for Housing Opportunity will create opportunities to build more housing citywide and tackle our housing crisis head on,” said Jesse Lazar, executive director, American Institute of Architects New York. “With challenges to building affordable housing mounting due to high property costs, interest rates, and construction costs, the proposal will add the critical tools needed to ensure all New Yorkers have access to safe and affordable housing. The proposed combination of zoning changes will eliminate key restrictive barriers that have stunted housing development allowing us to build all types of housing and prioritize neighborhood character.”

“The City of New York is facing an unprecedented housing crisis. The Adams administration through the City of Yes for Housing Opportunity Plan is attempting to meet that challenge head-on by removing barriers which have prevented the creation of more affordable homes for generations. We have to partner with the mayor today so hard working, poor and vulnerable New Yorkers have a better tomorrow,” said Kirk Goodrich, president, Monadnock Development and co-host, “The Housing Problem” podcast.

“Every New York City neighborhood has an equal responsibility to expand the housing safety net. Yet, for far too long, lower-income communities have seen the disproportionate number of affordable housing developments across the five boroughs. City of Yes will level that playing field and bring much-needed equity to the housing landscape,” said Jolie Milstein, president & CEO, New York State Association for Affordable Housing. “Restrictive zoning conditions exacerbate historic patterns of segregation and increase the cost of living for all residents, while also placing an undue burden on certain neighborhoods to address the affordable housing crisis. By calling on each community to increase housing through a series of much-needed reforms and initiatives, we will get closer to ensuring that New Yorkers can access housing in every corner of the city – no matter what their income level. Only when this occurs can we truly achieve kind of fair and equitable city that all residents deserve.”

“New York City’s progress is stalling under an antiquated zoning code that prioritizes cars over people, density, and affordability. Finally, we can reform that with City of Yes for Housing Opportunity,” said Sara Lind, co-executive director, Open Plans. “Lifting arbitrary parking mandates citywide will allow us to take the first step toward a new era where housing is affordable, streets are walkable, transit options are abundant, and neighborhoods are climate resilient. The upcoming review period will allow every community board member and local leader to embrace this chance to shape our city according to modern ideals, rather than clinging to car-centric, prejudicial values of the past. We applaud the Adams administration and the Department of City Planning for advancing this bold proposal that will make a lasting impact on our city for generations to come.”

“City of Yes Housing Opportunity is pivotal to addressing the housing crisis in New York. These reforms would increase housing production across the city to relieve pressure on the system and improve equitable housing access,” said Scott Short, CEO, RiseBoro Community Partnership.

“New York City’s housing crisis is decades in the making,” said Brenda Rosen, president & CEO, Breaking Ground. “As City of Yes for Housing Opportunity begins the public review period, it’s important to remember how desperately we need these proposed interventions to address persistent unaffordability and homelessness. This smart package of reforms will ensure that every neighborhood participates in adding housing. We will not solve this crisis overnight, but with City of Yes we can take crucial steps toward building a more affordable and equitable New York City.”

“New York’s booming tech ecosystem attracted more New Yorkers than any other city last year, and as this trend continues, it is essential that our housing infrastructure can support these new arrivals and lifelong New Yorkers alike,” said Julie Samuels, president & CEO, Tech:NYC. “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity will get this done and show that New York City is open for business. This is a smart, sensible policy, and we look forward to the City Planning Commission and City Council approving this plan by the end of the year.”

“Pro-housing policies are not just about solving today’s housing crisis; they’re about securing a future for generations to come. By prioritizing affordable housing, we ensure that New Yorkers in need have access to stable homes and the opportunity to thrive,” said Jerrod Delaine, CEO, The Delaine Companies.

“City of Yes is the essential first step in addressing New York City’s housing underproduction. It is a thoughtful, homeowner-friendly community development plan that will not change the character of communities or alter the skyline,” said Alex Armlovich, senior housing policy analyst, Niskanen Center. “The biggest reforms affect the interior of buildings: converting old office towers; providing parking freedom to residents; and allowing more flexible and denser apartment layouts without permitting substantially larger buildings overall. This strategy to allow ‘a little housing in every neighborhood’ will be invisible in any one place, but all added up across the city should permit almost 7,000 more homes per year over the next 15 years.”

“New York City has to build its way out of this housing crisis. City of Yes for Housing Opportunity will cut the time and the cost needed to get new apartments built for New Yorkers,” said David Schwartz, principal and co-founder, Slate Property Group. “I’m excited to see Mayor Adams and the Department of City Planning pushing the envelope so we can build better and faster.”

“Mayor Adam’s visionary City of Yes for Housing Opportunity proposal champions a greener, fairer New York City,” said Dan Kaplan FAIA, senior partner, FXCollaborative Architects. “Through comprehensive and common-sense zoning reforms, it will transform the New York City Zoning Resolution into a tool to realize a more affordable and sustainable future for all New Yorkers.”

“In Downtown Brooklyn, we know first-hand how neighborhoods where people can live, work, learn and play function as vibrant economic engines for New York City, and the City of Yes for Housing Opportunity would pave the way for more mixed-use corridors while also addressing the ongoing housing crisis,” said Regina Myer, president, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “It is exciting that these smart zoning updates are moving forward in the public approval process, and we look forward to seeing City of Yes for Housing Opportunity become a reality.”

Photo credit: NYC.gov.


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