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April 25, 2019

City controller Stringer says de Blasio housing plan doesn’t do nearly enough for lowest income NYers

November 30, 2018
NY City Comptroller Scott Stringer discusses dangerous conditions at NYCHA playgrounds on Wednesday, April 4, 2018. (Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News) (Jefferson Siegel / New York Daily News)

Controller Scott Stringer — a potential 2021 mayoral candidate — blasted City Hall Thursday for not doing enough to attack the affordable housing crisis that’s particularly hurting the lowest income New Yorkers.

“The current plan is simply out of line with where we need to build,” Stringer said in announcing what he described as a more aggressive campaign to find housing for those who can least afford it. “While we have to make sure all New Yorkers have access to affordable housing, we are not putting our money where it will make the greatest impact.”

“I believe it’s time to change our approach,” he said. “We need to break the mold.”

The controller started with praise but switched to criticism of Mayor de Blasio’s much touted promise to build or preserve 300,000 affordable units.

He cheered the mayor’s plan as the “most ambitious” since Mayor Koch built thousands of affordable units in the 1980s, but then took issue with de Blasio’s decision to steer few of his promised 300,000 units to New Yorkers whose incomes are the smallest.

Stringer estimated that more than 500,000 New Yorkers are either “extremely low income” households, earning less than $28,170 per year, or “very low income,” earning less than $46,950 per year. Yet de Blasio’s housing plan targets only 72,000 units for those households.

“They’re actually working New Yorkers: the home health aide for our aging parents, the cashier at the supermarket, the person who empties the trash at the office. People we see and rely on every day,” he said. “They are the backbone of New York and we are failing them.”

Stringer noted that more than half of the affordable units promised by de Blasio are going to households making up to $75,000 for a family of three. Just over 10% are going to households in the “extremely low income” category.

He also pushed to dramatically increase the number of apartments set aside for families in homeless shelters. Currently de Blasio’s plan targets 5% of the 300,000 promised units, mostly in preserved housing — not new apartments.

Stringer says the city should set aside 15% of all new apartments for the homeless, a proposal now circulating in the City Council.

Mayoral spokeswoman Jane Meyer defended de Blasio’s approach.

“Our city is in the grips of an affordability crisis, and the Mayor is confronting it head on. From creating affordable housing at record levels, to rent freezes and free lawyers for tenants facing eviction, this administration is fighting this crisis with every available tool – not just the housing plan being looked at by the Controller,” she said.

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