• City Council members met last week to hear and debate aspects of Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH), which is the first part of Mayor de Blasio’s plan to add 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next ten years.
  • Council members were apprehensive of parking requirement removals that follow senior and affordable housing developments.
  • The City Council also expressed concerns over ZQA’s senior housing proposals and their relation to building height.
  • Both plans and their proposed amendments will be voted on in the next month.

In its second round of meetings last week, the New York City Council heard Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration propose the second aspect of Housing New York. This time around, the Council discussed Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA).

ZQA would allow for taller residential buildings in some neighborhoods and create more opportunities for affordable senior housing, supporters say.

On February 9, City Council members met to hear and debate aspects of Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH), which is the first part of de Blasio’s plan to add 200,000 units of affordable housing across all five boroughs over the next ten years.

Much as they did with MIH, critics expressed their concerns following the ZQA proposals. Specifically, council members were apprehensive of parking requirement removals that follow senior and affordable housing developments.

While City Hall says parking will only be impacted in neighborhoods close enough to mass transit (called “transit zones”), some suggested renting the spaces to residents within neighborhoods if they needed them. Outside of transit zones, developers must leave enough parking to accommodate 10 percent of units, according to ZQA plans.

The City Council also expressed concerns over ZQA’s senior housing proposals and their relation to building height, as increasing the vertical height of only some residential properties might throw off the aesthetic of residential communities. ZQA proposes to allow senior developments up to 65 feet tall in low-density districts that have current height restrictions of 35 feet.

Vicki Been/NYC.gov

Vicki Been/NYC.gov

However, de Blasio’s team believes affordability for seniors and elevator access presides over architectural or cityscape appeal.

Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been commented on the height deliberation and senior housing affordability in general.

“We have many, many seniors who are basically trapped in their homes because they cannot navigate the stairs,” she said. “It is very hard to say to a senior who is facing homelessness or not knowing where they are going to spend their final years, ’Oh, I’m sorry, we can’t provide housing because people are concerned about height.'”

Some also suggested minimum square footage– 275 square feet– was too small; council members don’t believe seniors will be comfortable in micro-units. While NYC is no stranger to small apartments, seniors coming from single-family homes or condos aren’t acquainted with the minimalist, compact lifestyle. The current minimum size for NYC apartments is 400 square feet.

Both plans and their proposed amendments will be voted on in the next month.

Email Jennifer Riner

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