Adams Pledges New Housing On Public Land, Crackdown On Illegal Weed Shops In State Of The City
At his third State of the City address as New York City mayor, Eric Adams said he has a plan to add 12,000 housing units in the city, pushing development at city-owned sites in an attempt to make progress on his administration’s “moonshot” housing goals unveiled in last year's speech.
“It is no secret that this city and this nation are facing a massive housing crisis,” Adams said during the address on Wednesday. “Sixty years of injustice and underdevelopment have brought us to the brink.”
Addressing the crowd at Hostos Community College in the South Bronx, Adams vowed to fight for measures designed to tackle NYC’s housing supply issues via his City of Yes initiative, including the latest part of his administration’s housing plan.
Dubbed 24 in '24, the proposal plans to push forward with preservation and development on 24 public sites this year. Further details are expected to be revealed as to site locations and project plans over the coming months, the New York Post reported.
“It is time for a powerful new housing agenda, one that acknowledges the need to build more housing is more important than preserving the old way of doing things,” Adams said onstage.
Also among the measures announced were a focus on shuttering illegal cannabis shops across the city and beginning coastal resiliency work in Battery Park City.
Adams used the address to tout records set by his administration over the past year, including financing approximately 27,000 affordable homes and advancing plans for new housing developments at Willets Point.
He also unveiled new measures designed to prevent displacement, including reopening the NYC Housing Authority’s Section 8 voucher waitlist, which has been closed for 15 years, and issuing 1,000 vouchers per month.
Additionally, the mayor’s office announced plans to launch a Tenant Protection Cabinet, making it easier for tenants to find information about housing programs, as well as a service to help homeowners find information that could help them avoid deed theft.
But some help is needed at a state level if NYC is to reach its housing goals, Adams said. Reiterating last year’s housing goal, 500,000 units built within the next decade, Adams asked for help from legislators in Albany and NYC to pass measures designed to facilitate housing production.
“That means incentives for affordable housing development, including a new version of the 421-a program and legislation to help convert up to 136M SF of unused office space into affordable housing for hardworking New Yorkers,” he said.
Adams bemoaned the proliferation of illegal smoke shops in his address, thanking Gov. Kathy Hochul and elected officials for their attempts to give NYC authorities the power to shut down unlicensed stores. Thousands of unlicensed stores exist across the five boroughs, adding another hurdle for New York’s nascent cannabis industry as it struggles to get off the ground.
“Legal cannabis remains the right choice for our city and our state, but New Yorkers are fed up with these illegal storefronts and their unlawful business practices,” Adams said.
Adams also announced progress with the city’s climate resiliency agenda with plans to break ground on the Battery Coastal Resilience initiative this year. The $200M project is expected to raise the wharf promenade in the neighborhood and is part of a larger plan to bolster Lower Manhattan’s ability to face extreme weather events and sea level rise.
The city also plans to begin investing $450M it has received in federal resiliency grants this year, using the sum to fund flood insurance assistance for homeowners and renters, restore public housing developments, subsidize resilience measures in one-to-four-unit properties and multifamily buildings, and protect the city’s infrastructure from flooding.
After the mayor’s address, advocacy organizations expressed disappointment in the mayor’s housing agenda for the year.
While creating more housing will help alleviate some of the pressures causing the city's housing crisis, broader measures are necessary, housing justice advocates told Bisnow.
“While we welcome the announcement of a plan to build affordable housing on public sites, the mayor is continuing to focus on build, build, build while neglecting those who are currently homeless or facing eviction,” said Emily Goldstein, director of organizing and advocacy at the nonprofit Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development.
Implementing CityFHEPS rental assistance legislation the city council passed last year and fully funding right-to-counsel programs for tenants facing evictions should be among the mayor’s priorities this year, Goldstein said.
Jay Martin, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, expressed disappointment that Adams didn't announce measures specific to helping owners of rent-stabilized apartment buildings, many of whom have struggled to keep up with rising interest rates and expenses.
“The government must do more to lower the operating costs for rent-stabilized multifamily buildings and housing providers,” Martin said in a statement. “If they do not, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers will suffer as safe, affordable and quality housing options are eliminated.”