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De Blasio To Restore $466M To Previously Slashed Affordable Housing Budget

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at a coronavirus press briefing.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has walked back a widely criticized plan to take funding away from affordable housing. 

His administration is shifting $466M to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development's current fiscal year capital budget, according to a statement from the mayor on Thursday. This fiscal year’s capital investment will now be $1.4B, according to the mayor's office.

“Rebuilding a fairer and better New York City means investing in affordable housing and making our neighborhoods more inclusive,” de Blasio said in a statement. “There’s no surer or more important investment than safe and livable communities, anchored by affordable housing. We’re proud to keep our affordability and preservation goals on track.”

Over his two terms as the city's chief executive, de Blasio has made affordable housing his signature issue, and his administration said its goal to create 300,000 affordable homes by 2026 is still on track. 

Before the pandemic hit, de Blasio's fiscal year 2021 budget included $1.2B for affordable housing. After a $457M cut, the city directed $741M this fiscal year toward building and preserving affordable housing, and the New York City Council approved its $88.2B in June. The reduction, aimed at dealing with the gaping hole the coronavirus blew in the budget, amounted to a 40% cut.

The move drew criticism from housing advocates and former city officials, who said such cuts were short-sighted and would exacerbate a housing situation that was in crisis before unemployment in the city spiked above 20% (it dropped to 14% in September, according to the New York Department of Labor).

HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll said on a Bisnow webinar in August that the city already hit its goal of creating at least 25,000 affordable housing units by 2020 when the coronavirus hit.

Still, affordable housing developer RiseBoro CEO Scott Short told Bisnow at the time that it will result in around 20,000 fewer affordable housing units produced in the city over the next couple of years. Analysis from the New York Housing Conference backed that figure up, and a report from the group this week found the cuts would save just $30M this fiscal year for the city, The Real Deal reported.

"Stable, affordable housing is critical to the health and well-being of New Yorkers, and we are doubling down on our ambitious housing goals," Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been said in a statement. "These funds will maximize our production pipeline, prioritizing new housing for those who are most in need."