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Mayor Bill de Blasio, council leaders reach affordable housing deal

Mayor Bill de Blasio talks about affordable housing

Mayor Bill de Blasio talks about affordable housing Monday, March 14, 2016. The mayor and city council leaders have reached a deal that officials say will provide additional low-income housing to eligible residents. Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

New York City Council leaders announced Monday night they had reached an agreement with Mayor Bill de Blasio that “substantially modifies” elements of his signature affordable housing plan and provides more apartments for lower-income residents.

“Today, we have a proposal that will work for this city,” Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said at a City Hall news conference, adding that the council spent six months “taking a fine-toothed comb through the intricacies and complexities and translating them into human terms.”

Mark-Viverito said her team had successfully negotiated an option for developers to set aside 20 percent of their units for residents earning 40 percent of the area median income, or about $31,000 for a family of three. Their rent would be $775 monthly.

The three options set by the mayor’s aides were for tenants earning averages of 60 percent, 80 percent and 120 percent of area median income.

Opponents of de Blasio’s proposal to require below-market-rate units in new developments said the housing wasn’t affordable to the lowest-income New Yorkers.

The “mandatory inclusionary housing” bill and a second piece of legislation called “zoning for quality and affordability” that standardizes design details to, among other goals, increase density, will be voted on by a council subcommittee Thursday and by the full council later this month.

In a statement, de Blasio commended Mark-Viverito and the council for their efforts in the negotiation process.

“They have pushed every day to reach as many New Yorkers as possible and to protect our neighborhoods,” he said.

The mayor, who earlier won the support of a coalition of progressive housing and labor activists previously opposed to his plan, said the process will be remembered as a “watershed moment when we turned the tide to keep our city a place for everyone.”

Mark-Viverito, council land use committee chairman David Greenfield and council zoning subcommittee chairman Donovan Richards, who held 20 hours of public hearings on the bills last month, said other compromises reached include:

The exemption of some dense Manhattan neighborhoods from a requirement that new buildings increase by 5 feet in height.

The redrawing of the map of so-called transit zones, where the city would lift a mandate to build parking spaces, to leave out areas where mass transit is less reliable.

The increasing of minimum unit size for some senior housing to 325 square feet from 275 square feet.

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