NYC housing head touts success of mayor's Housing New York plan

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York plan has seen great progress since its inception, NYC Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer told a meeting of the Citizens Budget Committee on Wednesday.

But she said the plan was just one piece of a larger and more complex framework to address the city’s housing problems, adding that there are many less visible policies the city is implementing that will serve both current and future New Yorkers.

“There is no silver bullet to solve the city’s housing crises,” Torres-Springer told a meeting of the budget watchdog in Manhattan, adding that the scale and complexity of the problem is enormous in the context of the nationwide affordability problem.

She cited statistics showing there is no state in the country where a person working full-time at the federal minimum wage could afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair-market rent.

“That to me is a very staggering statistic,” she said.

De Blasio announced the New York Housing plan in 2014. It's aim is to create or preserve 200,000 homes over the next 10 years.

Torres-Springer said the plan represents a broader set of strategies to confront the city's housing crises, such as its efforts to improve transportation, education and healthcare.

She said the city is working on all those fronts simultaneously, but that the problem also was about “addressing the underlying problem, which is one of basic supply and demand. There just isn’t enough housing for the growing number of people who choose to live and stay in New York.”

Ultimately, growth is good for the city, she said, but the market for housing isn’t keeping up.

“So we need to produce more housing and we specially need to create and preserve more affordable housing” for low-, moderate- and middle-income New Yorkers, she said.

Since the plan’s inception, she said the city has created or preserved 77,651 affordable housing units.

“That’s enough to serve the population the size of Salt Lake City,” she said, adding that the city was also meeting its affordability goals.

In the fiscal year ended June 30, the city has financed 24,293 homes with over 40% of the units going to a family of three earning less than $43,000 a year.

Torres-Springer is also chair of the NYC Housing Development Corp. Previously, she was president of the city’s Economic Development Corp. and has served as commissioner of the city’s department of Small Business Services. She was a policy advisor in the office of the deputy mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding and as COO at Friends of the Highline.

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