Mayor Signs Housing Not Warehousing Bill

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Mayor de Blasio recently held hearings on and later signed into law two bills from the Housing Not Warehousing Act. One of the Bills is designed to help identify vacant sites which could be used for affordable housing development.

One of the primary sponsors of the Bills was Council Member Jumaane Williams, his Intro 1039-A, required that the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) reported on the vacant buildings or lots under its jurisdiction–categorized by the potential to be developed or the feasibility of development those buildings or lots as affordable housing. The New York City Council passed the bill and its counterpart on December 19, 2017 with overwhelming support.

Council Member Williams’ bill is one of three in a legislatively package commonly known as the Housing Not Warehousing Act. A second bill from the package was also signed–Intro 1036-A, of which Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan) is the primary sponsor, was signed into law by Mayor de Blasio as well.

The third bill in the package, from Public Advocate Letitia James, has not yet been voted on by the City Council.

The Housing Not Warehousing Act is seen as a key tool for the preservation and construction of desperately needed affordable housing units in the city. Proponents of the bill argue that the development of the volume of units needed to meaningfully address the need that the city faces, requires full knowledge of all resources and tools that are available. The enacting of this law comes as the de Blasio administration has announced its new goal of creating or preserving 300,000 affordable housing units by 2026.

** In his comments on the Mayoral signing of the Bills, Council-Member–Williams observed “for the first time in its history, New York City will be empowered to conduct a census of vacant properties as one method of addressing the affordable housing and homelessness crisis we face; enacting this legislation provides us with essential tools toward arriving at solutions.”

Mr. Williams added, “Finally, we’ll be able to understand the extent of property warehousing throughout the five boroughs, and craft real policy solutions to create housing for all New Yorkers”

** After signing the Bills, Mayor DeBlasio insisted “More affordable housing is the key to making New York’s neighborhoods more stable, more diverse and to making this a fairer City. With these new laws we shine a light on buildings and vacant land sitting empty – and that will help us meet a goal of creating 300,000 affordable homes — enough for the entire population of Boston,”

** Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer said “Under Housing New York, we are leaving no stone unturned, as HPD continues to move aggressively through its dwindling inventory of vacant land, developing thousands of affordable homes, and issuing a record number of RFPs, this new legislation reflects our commitment to greater reporting and transparency.  I want to thank Council-members–Rodriguez and Williams and the many agencies and advocacy groups who partnered with us to find new ways to help unlock more opportunities to develop vacant and underutilized land.”

Picture shows Council Member Williams at a press conference after the Mayor’s signing of the Housing Not Warehousing Act”
(Photo Credit: Kevin Fagan)