People of means, who are established in New York, want to preserve their neighborhood at all costs. That means no high density residential that could block their treasured natural sunlight or polluting it with poor residents who don’t fit the “character” of the neighborhood. These are precisely the people who overwhelmingly vote and volunteer at the municipal level and determine who gets to chair the community review boards and zoning committees that can kill or expedite new housing proposals.
And can we stop the knee jerk “blame the Republican” for this problem? This issue exists almost exclusively in major, desirable cities in which the preponderance of elected officials are Democrats. If anything, Republicans are better on the issue of affordable housing they’re usually aligned with wealthy commercial interests (real estate developers and the banks that finance them), as opposed to wealthy personal interests.