Quinn wants city to build 40,000 affordable housing units in next decade

Speaker Christine Quinn delivers 2013 State of the

Speaker Christine Quinn delivers 2013 State of the City Address (William Alatriste/NYC Council) (Credit: Speaker Christine Quinn delivers 2013 State of the City Address (William Alatriste/NYC Council) )

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn set her sights on the city's growing housing problem in her state of the city address Monday and proposed a huge plan aimed at boosting the middle class.

The majority of her speech, which may be a precursor to her expected campaign for mayor, regarded a proposal to create 40,000 new middle-income affordable housing units over the next decade.

Quinn said the plan, which would be the largest city middle class housing program since Mitchell-Lama, has been a long time coming, because not only are more New Yorkers falling below the middle class level, but also those who do fit the criteria can't afford a place to live. "Simply put, we face an affordability crisis in our city and it cuts right at the fabric of New York," she said before a crowd that included most of the City Council delegation.

Quinn gave some suggestions on how to pay for the housing project.

She recommended reallocating money from capital projects that have gone unused for years and taking advantage of low interest rate loans to buy property.

Quinn noted that the project's financial burdens are tough but the economic benefits would be beneficial for the city's long term future.

"It is a challenge, but it is one that we must and will meet," the speaker said.

Christina Greer, an assistant professor of political science at Fordham University, said Quinn's plan was sound politically, but it wouldn't easily become a reality. Although Quinn put forth specific ways to raise capital, Greer said changing housing costs over the decade could complicate matters.

"On practice, it's hard to get the money," she said.

The speech also focused on creating new jobs. Quinn proposed a total revamp of the mayor's workforce development program that provides free training and job search assistance.

Quinn said the centers lack a centralized data and fails to follow up on unemployed residents New Yorkers who get jobs.

In many cases, those jobs last only a few months.

"To put it mildly, our current system is a disjointed mess," she said.

Under Quinn's plan, the job seeker's information will be in a citywide workforce database and they will get training in growing industries such as tech and health care.

"We're going to make services more consistent and use taxpayer dollars more efficiently," she said.

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