Mayor Eric Adams says as many as 100,000 more homes could be built in the next 15 years under a proposal he unveiled Thursday that takes aim at New York City’s long-standing housing shortage and would establish a less restrictive zoning code.
His plan, announced in an address at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, would revamp the city’s restrictive zoning laws, curb rules requiring that parking spots be built with housing, allow conversions of empty offices into housing and create below-market-rate apartments. He said he hopes the changes can be in effect by next fall.
The plan is called “a little more housing in every neighborhood,” and Adams has set a "moonshot” goal of 500,000 new homes over the next decade.
"Today we are proposing the most ambitious changes to zoning in the history of New York City, changes that will finally end exclusionary zoning, cut red tape and transform our city from the ground up. This is not tinkering around the edges. This is a groundbreaking — literally — by rewriting the wrongs of history," Adams said.
All of the policies contained in the plan are part of one citywide zoning text amendment that must be approved by the City Council, according to Adams spokesman Charles Kretchmer Lutvak.
The plan would allow more accessory dwelling units — such as an additional apartment on a plot currently zoned for just one home — the kind of building resisted in much of Long Island.
And, he said: "Our proposal will legalize the types of modestly sized apartment buildings that the current zoning laws have made so difficult to build, bringing back the kind of mixed-use developments that define so many neighborhoods so many of us know and love. By allowing two, three or even four stories of housing above commercial spaces, we will bolster the kinds of main streets that already anchor so many of our communities, places where we can stroll, shop and dine as well as commute to our places of work."
New York is behind Seattle, Boston, Washington, D.C., and other big cities by permitting a fraction of the housing those cities do, even as demand surges, according to a report earlier this year from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
And of the top 100 American counties, Long Island permits fewer units of housing than anywhere but one county in Ohio, according to a report by Bloomberg News. Housing shortages drive up rent and home prices overall.
Adams' announcement comes as the city faces a rental vacancy of 1.7%, reflecting a longtime housing shortage, as well as a surge of foreign migrants — 116,000 since the spring of 2022.
Dan Garodnick, Adams' director for the Department of City Planning, said the plan would allow more density beyond the status quo if a project includes below-market-rate housing permanently.
"Here is a moment now where people are connecting the cost of rents, the gentrification pressures, the imbalance of power between landlords and tenants in the city, to our housing scarcity problem," he said.