The United States is short by nearly five million housing units needed to meet current demand. New York State and City face similar shortcomings. For example, the city’s housing plan notes that there are approximately one million households in New York that are considered low or extremely low income and only 424,000 housing units available at affordable rents. What is a shortage for middle- and upper-income New Yorkers is therefore a real crisis for working-class and low-income New Yorkers. This article outlines recent proposals from Governor Kathy Hochul and the state legislature to address this crisis, as well as a new challenge to a recent New York City rezoning that included a major affordability component. . The new mayor has yet to release his plans but appears to agree with the governor’s proposals so far.
Eliminate the State CAP of 12.0 on FARs. In the State of the State Address, the Governor announced his intention to propose legislation to lift the FAR 12.0 cap on residential density in the Multiple Dwellings Act, a concern primarily in New York City. Section 26 of the act currently prohibits residential buildings on a “lot” from having a floor area ratio (FAR) greater than 12.0. For example, a 10,000 square foot lot cannot contain more than 120,000 square feet of floor area. In practice, the New York City zoning resolution and local zoning codes across the state place much lower caps on development in the vast majority of neighborhoods. But in the handful of residential neighborhoods that already allow FAR 12 residential development (almost exclusively in Manhattan), lifting the cap could provide opportunities for housing expansion.