Monday, July 21, 2008

How to Create Affordable Housing Now at No Cost

Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a far-reaching plan to create a total of 165,000 units of affordable housing by the year 2013 at a cost of 7 1/2 billion dollars. This plan has been described as "the largest municipal affordable housing plan in the nation's history ". As commendable as this goal may be, there is a far cheaper way of not only achieving this goal but of exceeding it.

It has been estimated that there are currently one million to 1.1 million units of rent regulated housing in New York City much of which is renting at a below market rents. As the most recent revelations concerning our governor and one of our congressmen have revealed many of these units are occupied by those who are not in need of affordable housing. The current system of rent regulations provides no form of "need test" to qualify those who receive these apartments. If just one in 5 of the existing rent regulated apartments are occupied by those who could otherwise afford market rate housing then if we were to require a " needs test" for those in rent regulated apartments, we could free up over 200,000 units of housing and make them available for those in need. The cost? Zero dollars. Obviously, this would be incredibly disruptive in the short term so if such a system were to be implemented, it should be phased in over a period of time.

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