Build­ing a city we can all af­ford

New York Daily News - - EDITORIAL - BY BILL DE BLA­SIO De Bla­sio is mayor of New York.

Wher­ever I go, I meet folks who are do­ing ev­ery­thing right — work­ing hard, mak­ing a de­cent salary and try­ing to build a bet­ter life. In the New York I moved to 40 years ago, that was enough to feel eco­nom­i­cally se­cure.

The city had a lot of prob­lems back then, but find­ing an af­ford­able place to live wasn’t one of them.

It would have been hard to imag­ine a city where more than half of our peo­ple spend more on rent than they can af­ford, where en­tire neigh­bor­hoods slip out of reach of work­ing fam­i­lies, where even peo­ple we once considered solidly mid­dle class ask them­selves: Can we still af­ford to live here?

Well, let me be clear: It’s New York that can’t af­ford to lose peo­ple like you.

This has to be a place where se­niors, veter­ans, work­ing fam­i­lies and the mid­dle class can all af­ford to live. Oth­er­wise, it’s not New York any­more.

We’ve spent the past four years try­ing to stop the loss of af­ford­able homes, and try­ing to make up ground we’ve lost since the re­ces­sion.

Today, I’m lay­ing out a new road map to mas­sively ac­cel­er­ate that work.

We are think­ing big, be­cause this cri­sis runs deep.

When I first took of­fice in 2014, we saw the threat to our city mount­ing, and we took it on with the big­gest hous­ing plan in our his­tory. Our goal: build or pre­serve 200,000 af­ford­able apart­ments over 10 years.

We’re ahead of sched­ule, with work un­der­way to build and pro­tect 78,000 homes — enough for the en­tire pop­u­la­tion of Salt Lake City — and far more com­ing by year’s end. The num­ber of homes on the city’s hous­ing lot­ter­ies has dou­bled since we took of­fice.

For the first time ever, an­nual rent in­creases for 2 mil­lion New York­ers liv­ing in rent-reg­u­lated homes were frozen two years run­ning. We’ve lost the small­est num­ber of rent-reg­u­lated apart­ments to ris­ing rents since 2000. Ten­ants now have ac­cess to free le­gal ser­vices to fight ha­rass­ment and evic­tion.

Build more. Pro­tect That’s been our mantra.

But in­stead of stay­ing on that tra­jec­tory, we’re set­ting even big­ger goals and in­vest­ing more re­sources — be­cause the soul of our city is at stake here. more.

We’re ded­i­cat­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars more each year, $1.3 bil­lion a year to­tal, to beat back this cri­sis and keep even more New York­ers se­cure in their homes.

We will dou­ble our com­mit­ment to se­nior hous­ing — 30,000 homes in all — build­ing more apart­ments and mak­ing up­grades to ex­ist­ing ones so more New York­ers can grow old in the homes they love.

We will help put non­profit land­lords in charge of more build­ings in gen­tri­fy­ing neigh­bor­hoods, pro­tect­ing 1,000 long­time ten­ants each year.

We will pro­tect 15,000 ten­ants at our re­main­ing Mitchell-Lama build­ings that an­chor our mid­dle class.

We will help hun­dreds New York­ers of mod­er­ate means buy their first home, so they can own a piece of their neigh­bor­hoods — some­thing they can pass on to their kids. We’ll help more than a thou­sand low-in­come home­own­ers stay in their homes by mak­ing badly needed re­pairs.

All this means we can com­plete our ini­tial goal of 200,000 af­ford­able homes two years ahead of sched­ule and pre­serve or build an ad­di­tional 100,000 homes in the four years that fol­low.

That sets us on a path to 300,000 af­ford­able apart­ments by 2026, enough hous­ing for the en­tire pop­u­la­tion of Bos­ton.

These aren’t just num­bers. They’re fam­i­lies who live on the brink today — peo­ple fac­ing the prospect of leav­ing this city, of cut­ting back even more on the es­sen­tials, of hav­ing to move and send their kids to a dif­fer­ent school.

For a long time, the an­swers and the help weren’t there for fam­i­lies who needed it. That’s chang­ing.

If you are look­ing for an af­ford­able apart­ment, we’re build­ing thou­sands more ev­ery year, and the pace keeps ac­cel­er­at­ing.

If you’re fac­ing ha­rass­ment or evic­tion, free le­gal help is a phone call to 311 away. The city is on your side.

If you love your apart­ment, but are wor­ried your rent will go up, the city is bring­ing more tools than ever to bear to hold your rent down.

This is how we will keep New York, New York.

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