CHIP Releases Legislative Agenda For 2023

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Photo by Daryan Shamkhali on Unsplash

(New York, NY) — The Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), a leading housing advocacy organization, will be lobbying and advocating for a host of changes to housing laws in 2023 with the goal of significantly increasing the supply of housing in New York City and New York State. The lack of housing in the state has hit emergency levels and the time for half measures and stale rhetoric is over. Our proposals, if adopted, would create hundreds of thousands of new homes and dramatically reduce the cost of housing for renters.

“Better housing is possible. And it doesn’t require billions of dollars in government investment, it simply requires the government to implement policies designed to grow the supply of housing and rollback current policies, which are designed to keep housing scarce. The high rents, lack of quality apartments, and overall frustration with housing is solely due to bad policies put in place decades ago, and the lack of political courage among elected officials to change these policies over the years,” said Jay Martin, executive director of CHIP.

“We are hopeful that we are at a turning point. Pro-housing policies are growing in popularity among voters and we have many new faces in government who are eager to deliver change for their constituents. Our agenda would be a great step towards creating more housing and improving the lives of New Yorkers.”

New York State Agenda:

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Local Regulated Housing Restoration Adjustment (LRHRA):

Our number one priority is to bring tens of thousands of rent stabilized apartments back to the rental market through a proposal we call the Local Regulated Housing Restoration Adjustment (LRHRA). Apartments that have been occupied for the longest time have the lowest rents, but also the highest renovation costs. Most of these apartments are out of date with housing codes once the tenants move out, so they must be renovated. The cost of the renovations would never be recovered by the owner, due to the low rents. Our proposal would allow the rents to be raised to comparable apartments in the area, allowing the owner to make necessary upgrades. The units would stay stabilized, be lead-free, prepared to be in compliance with city and state climate initiatives, and in many cases they would be available to voucher holders.

Housing Access Voucher Program:

The current vouchers available to low-income New Yorkers are not enough to meet the need. They are also difficult to use for renters, and they are too complicated for owners to navigate due to government bureaucracy. The Housing Access Voucher Program (HAVP) is a thoughtfully designed voucher that would travel with tenants, allowing them more choice about where they live. It is also designed to give owners more certainty that the voucher would be paid by the government without delays. As providers of affordable housing, our members understand first-hand how important vouchers can be to housing security for tenants and to the financial health of a building.

Transit-Oriented Development & Ending Parking Minimums:

One of the most effective ways to meet our housing needs is to allow more housing to be built in places where people want to live. One of the most effective ways to reduce the cost of providing housing is to end parking minimums for housing development near transit hubs. CHIP supports the transit-oriented development plans put forth by Gov. Kathy Hochul in her 2022 budget proposal, and we hope that she proposes them again in 2023. Additionally, we encourage the governor and the State Legislature to consider using the power of the state government to ban parking minimums near transit hubs throughout the state.

Accessory Dwelling Units:

The ability to build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in the backyard of a single-family home or in the basement of a small apartment building would create thousands of new homes. In many cases, this will allow parents to create a home for their adult kids, or a family to create a home for an aging relative. In most places in the state, strict zoning prevents owners from using their own property more efficiently. These restrictions split up families or force them into overcrowded settings. A strong state policy banning this practice would not only create more housing, but would strengthen families and improve quality of life for many.

Increasing the FAR Cap:

Currently the maximum allowed floor to area ratio (FAR) for new residential buildings in New York City is 12.0. This cap has been in place since 1961. This means that the largest residential buildings in the city are at least 61 years old and if they were torn down, they would have to be replaced by smaller buildings. By eliminating the cap, New York could unlock thousands of affordable apartments. It would give the city an additional tool to create more homes for low-income New Yorkers, especially through negotiations with private developers seeking a rezoning.

New York City Agenda:

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Comprehensive Rezoning:

The last time New York City updated its zoning code was 1961. The current system requires any housing project that does not fit into the current zoning to go through a lengthy and exhaustive process that culminates in a vote by the City Council. Not surprisingly, the city has also had a scarcity of housing since the 1960’s, which has been confirmed every three years since 1974 through declarations of a housing emergency by the City Council. The emergency declaration only happens if the vacancy rate is below 5%. If the members of the City Council are serious about ending this perpetual emergency through the creation of abundant affordable housing then they must convene a commission to implement a full rezoning of New York City. This commission should look specifically at increasing the as-of-right development of housing near transit hubs, the ending of parking minimums, and the legalization of basement apartments and ADUs.

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Community Housing Improvement Program

Non-Profit Organization working with building owners, tenants, and elected officials to preserve affordable housing in New York.