Eric's Housing Plan

Create and Preserve Affordable Housing, For All Who Need It

To deal with our housing crisis in New York, the city must rapidly build new affordable housing while protecting existing apartments everywhere. That means bold, aggressive measures that are even more necessary now as we simultaneously fight a pandemic and an economic crisis. Here’s how:

  • Up-zone wealthier areas where we can build far more affordable units.
  • Repurpose city office buildings and hotels for affordable housing.
  • Think big by thinking small and add basement apartments, SROs and other small units.
  • Provide homes and help for the homeless and those struggling with rent.

Add housing – for everyone – in wealthier areas.

For years, our re-zonings focused on adding apartments in lower-income areas — which led to higher-income people moving in, making communities less affordable, and often forcing out longtime residents. We will build in wealthier areas with a high quality of life, allowing lower- and middle-income New Yorkers to move in by adding affordable housing. And we will eliminate the community preference rule in those areas, which keeps many New Yorkers out of desirable neighborhoods.

Repurpose City office buildings for affordable housing.

We will convert a number of City office buildings into 100 percent affordable housing by taking advantage of more City workers working from home and consolidating workers that will still be in-person to free up space.

Allow private office buildings and hotels to become housing.

The pandemic emptied many of our hotels and office buildings. In some cases, their owners want to convert the buildings to housing, but City regulations make that either too expensive or too challenging. With some zoning tweaks and other rule changes, we can allow appropriate conversions and add desperately needed housing stock — particularly at hotels in the outer boroughs.

Think big by building small.

Outdated rules prevent New York developers from building the kind of small, cheaper micro-units common around the world. Homeowners in single family zones are prevented from legally leasing “accessory units” like “granny flats.” And single room occupancy units, or SROs, and basement apartments are still illegal, despite their common use elsewhere. By allowing all of these to be built or legally used, we will quickly add hundreds-of-thousands of affordable apartments.

Prioritize those who need supportive housing the most.

New Yorkers in local shelters — especially those who lived in the neighborhood beforehand and were displaced — will be prioritized for supportive housing. So too will young people aging out of foster care, who should be given every chance at starting off adulthood on the right foot.

Also, we will expedite the construction of supportive housing units, moving up by five years the timeline of the City’s 15/15 Supportive Housing Initiative, which currently aims to create 15,000 units of supportive housing in 15 years.

Improve rent subsidies to prevent New Yorkers from becoming homeless.

New Yorkers on the brink of homelessness and in shelters need far greater assistance to transition into permanent housing. One way we will accomplish this is by increasing the value of the City FHEPS housing vouchers so they reflect the value of the housing that is actually available in our city. There was a time when $1,323 for a one bedroom and $1,580 for a two bedroom was sufficient, but that time is long gone. And when the cost of a person in the shelter system is $124, and the cost of a family is $196 per day, increasing the value of vouchers is common sense governing.

Streamline the process to help New Yorkers behind on their rent.  

When New Yorkers fall behind on rent – as many have during the pandemic — their options to get help involve navigating a long trail of red tape and bureaucracy with the City’s One-Shot Deal and CBO’s rent relief programs. It is demoralizing to endure multiple long application processes while facing eviction. Rent relief programs need similar information from applicants such as amount owed, proof of residence, and a summary explaining the situation. The City can create a common application for those in need and allow approved CBOs access to the information. It will also allow an applicant to go to one place to see the status of their various applications for help with paying back arrears.

Fill empty affordable apartments, with priority for homeless New Yorkers.

It’s time for transparency from the City on how many affordable units are vacant, and proactive policies to fill these units as soon as possible — by any means necessary. As mayor, I will ensure HPD immediately discloses its current inventory of available affordable housing units by length of time vacant and income eligibility, as well as scales back its requirements to prove affordable housing qualification, to make the lottery process as reasonably simple and speedy as possible.

We will pursue a policy to fill open affordable units within 60 days of a new building’s certificate of occupancy or for vacancies in existing buildings, with a priority for those in our shelter system and temporary housing. To help make units in 100 percent affordable developments targeted at higher-income tenants accessible to lower-income tenants who need them, we will offer a new subsidy for units that sit vacant for at least 90 days, for not less than one year, to pay the difference for the next income tier down between the listed rent and 30 percent of the tenant’s monthly income.

Combat discrimination against Section 8 voucher holders

A recent lawsuit by Housing Rights Initiative alleged that dozens of brokerages and landlords had discriminated against low-income New Yorkers with Section 8 housing vouchers. It’s time to take the profit out of preventing people from having housing and send a clear message, particularly during this affordability crisis, that it will not be tolerated. We will enact new City policy that stipulates all civil penalties collected in cases of source-of-income discrimination be dedicated to the New York City Commission on Human Rights for the purposes of hiring additional legal staff to support its income distribution unit.

Additionally, we will pursue State legislation to specify new penalties for real estate brokers found to have violated the Human Rights Law regarding source-of-income discrimination; in addition to existing penalties, first-time offenders would have their licenses revoked and be unable to reapply for a year, second-time offenders would have their licenses revoked and be unable to reapply for two years, and third-time offenders would have their licenses permanently revoked.

Support Mitchell-Lama housing.

Mitchell-Lama housing is a critical affordable housing stock for our middle class, and in recent years developments have been in danger from systematic neglect and deliberate sabotage by predatory developers looking for a pay day. Both City- and State-managed properties need financial assistance, technical support, and oversight of property management. An Adams administration will empower the voices of shareholders and secure the financing needed to preserve the affordability of these units.

Reimagine Our City

Much of our city is zoned for another era when all New Yorkers lived in one area and worked in another. When COVID-19 hit, it economically decimated neighborhoods dominated by tall office towers, where retailers, restaurants, and other businesses relied almost entirely on 9-to-5 workers. The city also relies too heavily on office workers and the service economy overall, when it could and should be expanding employment options in areas like life sciences, urban agriculture, and manufacturing.

  • Create more live/work communities.
  • Empower community development corporations and non-profit land trusts.
  • Give faith-based institutions the tools to provide housing.

Create live/work communities.

Neighborhoods with a healthier mix of residential, commercial and retail space have done better than single-use areas in the city during the pandemic because people are traveling less. Live/work communities like Lower Manhattan also use City resources more consistently and efficiently, are more resilient to economic downturns, and can be safer because they are in constant use.

Use City offices as anchor tenants in new outer-borough development.

By moving City offices from Manhattan to the outer-boroughs, we will free up density for housing in high quality of life areas while stimulating growth in under-developed, underserved areas around outer-borough transit centers. We must augment this shift by increasing intra-borough transit options—which will be one of our overall citywide transportation goals.

Create a livable city for New Yorkers of all abilities.

Every New Yorker has the right to enjoy our city and have access to the same basic quality of life as their neighbors. But many of the approximately 1 million disabled New Yorkers are prevented from easily using City buildings, streets, and even housing because their needs have not been prioritized. My administration will conduct a citywide audit of City infrastructure and properties — including cultural institutions and groups leasing City property — to determine where those needs are not being met and form a plan for action.

Empower community development corporations and non-profit land trusts.

Community development corporations (CDCs) were a major reason New York was able to build its way out of the fiscal crisis in the 70’s and 80’s — by granting these local organizations property and funding to bring economic investment to their own neighborhoods. We will do that again to reinvigorate distressed lower-income areas by creating new economic activity and affordable housing.

Additionally, vacant and underutilized City property is a massive waste of our resources and often a blight on neighborhoods. In the midst of this housing crisis, we will aggressively seek to partner with community land trusts by offering properties to organizations that commit to building permanently affordable housing.

Give faith-based institutions the tools to provide housing.

Faith-based institutions have the social vision and local understanding to advance affordable and supportive housing projects on their own properties, but they often do not have the financial or technical capacity to do so. We will partner with faith-based institutions across New York City to leverage these development rights for a public purpose.

Finally tackle property tax reform.

Mayor after mayor has promised to tackle property tax reform, but struggling homeowners continue to wait and pay unfair bills under a fundamentally unfair and overly complicated system. I’m going to immediately put in place a committee to look at these tax laws and come up with real solutions to alleviate co-ops and condominiums and shift the tax burden off of renters and homeowners in less affluent areas to the owners of pricey apartments in wealthy areas . Billionaires are not paying their share of taxes. This will be fairly examined within our first year, with a robust outreach effort that gets maximum input from impacted New Yorkers.

End the lien sale, for good.

There is enough evidence that the annual lien sale has not been a just or an effective debt collection program. A real recovery is not balanced on the backs of the generational wealth in Black and Brown communities. Our focus should be on reinvesting in historically marginalized communities, and there are a number of promising models we will consider to replace the lien sale and do just that.

Additionally, we will ensure there is massive reform of the controversial Third Party Transfer (TPT) program, which was supposed to be used to help preserve affordable housing but has too often been a subterfuge to remove properties from homeowners who had their properties, in some cases, for more than thirty years.

Allow building inspections by drones

One of the most expensive regulatory costs and biggest potential slowdowns for any building developer is the inspections process — and those costs either stall growth or are eventually passed on to tenants. Drones can and should be used to cut costs by performing inspections much more efficiently and cheaply.

Adopt pet-friendly housing policies.

According to a study by the ASPCA, housing-related issues are the number one reason renters give up their pets. NYC is a city of renters, and housing that is owned or operated by the City of New York should not displace the cost of caring for animals on yet another City system — our animal shelters. By adopting pet-friendly policies in our City-owned and operated housing systems, we can keep pets out of the animal shelter by keeping them where they belong — with the people who love them.


Even before the pandemic, we knew that tens-of-billions of dollars was needed to make basic improvements to NYCHA complexes throughout the city. The virus exposed even more immediate issues We need an all-in approach to raise enough money to save NYCHA tenants from dilapidated buildings and deteriorating apartments.

  • Save NYCHA through bold moves like allowing the agency to sell air rights.
  • Keep NYCHA tenants informed to hold the agency accountable.
  • Support tenants impacted by lead paint with greater accountability and immediate assistance.

Sell NYCHA’s air rights to raise billions for NYCHA tenants.

We can literally pull $8 billion out of the air for NYCHA. The agency has air rights to some 80 million square feet over its properties that could generate income for capital repairs to more than 300 buildings, where desperately needed repairs are chronically slow, often dragging out for months or longer. That money will allow us to greatly improve the quality of life for more than 500,000 NYCHA tenants, roughly 90 percent of whom are people of color.

Close the NYCHA money pit by forcing the agency to be transparent.

NYCHA’s lack of transparency is unconscionable. The agency pours some $450 million into fixing up its housing complexes but still made the city’s worst landlord list in 2018 and 2019. The agency is opaque about where the money goes and the progress of much-needed repairs. This has led to deplorable conditions, leaks, gaping holes and non-working elevators for months on end. For example, NYCHA residents filed some 200,000 bug and rodent complaints in 2018 and 2019, and NYCHA elevator outages reportedly hit an average of 121 per day in 2018.

My administration will apply crystal clear transparency through constant reporting of progress on apartment and building repairs, as well as spending, posted in real-time through a dashboard. We will also do an audit to see what budgeted money has actually been spent. And we will promote further transparency and tracking by placing QR codes on buildings as a way for anyone to point, click and track progress. 

Get more money out of the federal government for City housing.

NYCHA tenants are understandably skeptical of the City program to get more money out of the federal government by transitioning some complexes to private management under the PACT to Preserve program. But the program can also unlock billions of dollars to improve their homes.

To raise needed revenue and give tenants more control over the process, we will provide free legal counsel to tenants going through the conversion and give them veto power. This will ensure that tenants can select an attorney they trust to fight for their needs so they get the better housing promised to them.

Bring real-time accountability with NYCHAStat.

If you don’t inspect what you expect, it’s all suspect. Rent-paying residents deserve to know the hard facts on efforts to improve the developments they call home, and NYCHA employees need to see where to mobilize resources for repairs. Just as CompSTAT began to improve policing performance decades ago, I believe a data-driven approach to asset management can improve NYCHA’s performance in serving its tenants, as well as deliver the accountability and transparency that has long been lacking.

Support tenants impacted by lead paint with greater accountability and immediate assistance.

Revelations of widespread lead paint exposure by the NYCHA federal monitor underscore the complete disregard the City has shown to Black and Brown children. I can’t help but think that if this were taking place in Sutton Place in Manhattan and not Sutter Avenue in Brownsville, the City’s response would be very different. Right now, we need to expedite remediation efforts, with help from the federal government, provide rent relief to impacted families, and ensure real accountability for any officials who are found to have misled tenants and the public about the extent of the problem.

Specifically, NYCHA must skip contracting procedures and immediately engage any city-based company licensed to do this remediation work that will pay prevailing wage and start work on an emergency basis, and it must not charge rent to any tenant living in any impacted apartment until the lead is remediated. Additionally, I will push for any individual(s) found responsible by the federal monitor or any other oversight body for concealing the extent of lead exposure to face legal accountability, as determined by the outcome of an investigation into potential criminal negligence or malfeasance.

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