As New York City begins to envision its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the movement for racial justice captures our national attention, the need for safe, healthy, and affordable housing for all New Yorkers has never been more dire.

This year, we will elect new local leadership. The challenges of this moment require bold leaders who will shake up the systems that have failed us and implement creative programs and priorities that acknowledge housing as a human right. This document provides guidance on how the next administration can ensure the right to a roof for all by rejecting austerity, ending homelessness, promoting racial equity, and prioritizing housing opportunities for those who need them most.

This report is a follow-up to Assessing De Blasio’s Housing Legacy: Why Hasn’t the “Most Ambitious Affordable Housing Program” Produced a More Affordable City? by Samuel Stein for the Community Service Society, in collaboration with many of the groups in this coalition, which details the shortcomings in our City’s housing policies over the last seven years. In summary, despite some important steps toward creating and preserving afford- ability, such as establishing the right to counsel for tenants in housing court, creating and expanding rental assistance programs, and mandating a set-aside of units for formerly homeless New Yorkers in City-subsidized housing, Mayor de Blasio’s approach to housing has failed to reduce racial and economic disparities and serve the needs of the lowest- income New Yorkers. Under Mayor de Blasio, the City has:

  • Prioritized numbers-driven deal-making over long-term, needs-based housing solutions.
  • Utilized a siloed approach to housing planning that has resulted in separate and unequal treatment of private housing, public housing, and homelessness.
  • Created new “affordable” housing that is not affordable enough for those who need it most.
  • Concentrated these affordable housing initiatives in low-income communities of color.
  • Relied on Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH), which has not provided adequately for the city’s affordability needs, and has encouraged market-rate development in low-income neighborhoods.
  • Favored for-profit developers over mission-driven non-profits, even for developments on public land, where the City had control of the outcome.
  • Failed to adequately address the homelessness crisis – an estimated 79,000 people now live in shelters or on the streets1, with homelessness among single adults on the rise. Resources homeless New Yorkers rely on to escape the shelters and streets remain insufficient and broken.
  • Failed to keep new investments in public housing on pace with accelerating deteriora- tion in resident living conditions. Needed reforms in property management have not been implemented, necessitating the appointment of a federal monitor.
  • Neglected to meaningfully involve residents in decision making about what happens in their neighborhoods.
  • Failed to work collaboratively with New York State to address deeply embedded economic divides prior to COVID-19 and to help City residents recover more quickly from the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.

This report is a joint effort between the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Devel- opment (ANHD); the Center for New York City Neighborhoods (CNYCN); Community Service Society (CSS); Community Voices Heard (CVH); MHANY Management, Inc.,
a mutual housing association; Make the Road New York (MRNY); New York Communities for Change (NYCC); RiseBoro Community Partnership; and VOCAL-NY.

These groups consist of: advocates that together represent tens of thousands of primarily low-income New Yorkers living across the five boroughs in public and private housing; mission-driven, non-profit affordable housing developers who have together built, preserved, and managed thousands of units of affordable housing; and service providers who help New Yorkers access critical resources. We work everyday to secure racial and economic justice for all New Yorkers. We and our members have organized communities facing displacement pressure in the face of City-driven neighborhood plans, built power with people experiencing homelessness and in public housing communities, and provided counseling to help thousands of New Yorkers stay in their homes.

As noted, we believe that the current moment requires bold leadership. Here, we present our priorities for the next Mayoral administration, citywide and boroughwide elected officials, and City Council. Some are programmatic and administrative changes that can happen immediately with a shift in priorities. Others require legislation and/or partner- ship and collaboration to develop implementation and funding strategies that work. New York City needs leaders who will work in partnership with communities to confront challenges head on, oppose austerity, and center the voices and priorities of low-income New Yorkers of color.