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NYC Council Passes New Law Setting Neighborhood Housing Goals Without Enforcement

New York City Hall

The New York City Council has passed a new local law that directs city agencies to come up with five-year housing production targets for each of the five boroughs' 59 community districts in a bid to make development more equitable across the city.

The law, dubbed the Fair Housing Framework, passed the council on Wednesday after it was sponsored by Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, who boasted of its future impact after its passage.

"This bill will help create a plan to support New Yorkers by building and preserving more housing, ensuring adequate affordability, and improving access to resources and opportunities in every neighborhood," Adams said in a statement. "It will serve as an important tool of transparency and accountability to help us address the housing crisis, with clarity about the obligations and needs of every community district."

An element missing from the new law is teeth. Community districts that don't meet the housing targets laid out by the city won't face any penalty or enforcement. Some council staffers and housing advocates said such mandates could run afoul of the city charter, Crain's New York Business reported.

The Fair Housing Framework directs the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of City Planning, as well as other relevant city agencies, to establish a citywide fair housing assessment every five years, including development targets for every neighborhood, anti-displacement plans and plans to improve affordable housing. The city would provide an annual update on its progress.

The plan is similar to what Mayor Eric Adams laid out in September, a push to update the city's zoning code to build "a little more housing in every neighborhood." The initiative is part of his "moonshot" goal to add 500,000 new housing units in the city over the next decade.

The plans echo what Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed at the beginning of the year when she introduced her New York Housing Compact that, most controversially, included not just housing production targets for each municipality in the state but also potential budgetary penalties for those jurisdictions that don't meet their goals. 

Hochul's proposals, which included a replacement for the 421-a housing development tax break and lifting the allowable density for housing in the city, failed to pass during this year's legislative session.