Mandatory Inclusion

The image above is clipped from the NYC Zoning Resolution

The Voluntary Inclusionary Housing Program (VIH) provides a bonus floor area if the developer creates permanently affordable housing. A maximum of 20% of the Residential Floor Area must be set aside to tenants at 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI)., the project must be located in the Inclusionary Housing Designated Area to qualify for the bonus floor area. The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program (MIH) requires permanently affordable housing to be provided to obtain alteration or new building permits from the Dept. of Buildings. The MIH affordable housing options are detailed below; each area will apply specific options. The maps and suitable alternatives can be seen in Appendix F of the NYC Zoning Resolution.

The Developers Choices

Option 1: 25% of the Residential Floor Area needs to be set aside at a weighted average of 60% AMI, with at least 10% set aside at 40% AMI

Option 2: 30% of the Residential Floor Area needs to be set aside at a weighted average of 80% AMI

Option 3 (Deep Affordability Option):20% of the Residential Floor Area needs to be set aside at a weighted average of 40% AMI

Option 4 (Workforce Option): 30% of the Residential Floor Area needs to be set aside at a weighted average of 115% AMI, with a least 5% set aside at 70% AMI and 5% set aside at 90% AMI

Affordable Housing Contribution

Project developers with less than 26 residential units and 25,000 sq. ft. FAR have the option of contributing to the affordable housing fund. Projects with ten residential units and 12,500 sq. ft. of Residential Floor Area are exempt from the MIH requirements.

The MIH units may be used to satisfy other affordable housing program requirements. Several firms are involved, from design to the Completion Notice administered by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).

A “My Neighborhood” post (here) will follow a vacant city-owned lot to follow a real-world example. A broader discussion of what it takes to produce a creative place is (here).

Resources: Look for Data

As the options list above suggests, this is New York City and everything is negotiable. A common criticism of the MIH approach to equity and fairness is the rents remain “too damn high.” However, the argument by housing advocates for additional resources such as Section 8 rental assistance for families can be made if local activists work with data and technical service providers to bring added data/value to the table, reflecting a greater need. Examples are plentiful; however, the following are a good place to decide if the “deep end” is for your organization or if new partners may be the way to get a better handle on the problems that need solutions.

  • The Urban Institute’s rental assistance prioritization index enables housing authorities and providers of rental assistance to find vulnerable communities.
  • The Census Bureau hosted a 12-week sprint with university-based leaders and Census data experts to find ways to disseminate Census data more equitably. The best examples for NYC are CityBuilder and Data to Go.
  • Google and Carto partnered with HUD to create an online map to demonstrate a mix of census data, rent data, and Google’s mobile device data. State and local government officials can navigate the map to analyze COVID-19 migration patterns across the U.S., gauge the effects of movements, and identify where additional resources are needed.

Amidst all of the chaos, hoops, and hurdles of the above is more complex than straightforward, clear you head by listening to a person that sees the earth and density in a very positive way.

Planning Hazard

Other than the occasional declaration of a national park, housing produces the largest demand for land. Land acquisition and regulation in the public interest for urban development and renewal, on theother is one of the hottest buttons ever legislatively produced and upheld as law. It may be time to rework this established foundation for managing new challenges aimed at sustaining the welfare of the nation and its people.

The impact of climate change on real estate development has stimulated anticipation of a new combination of eminent domain rights and land-use zoning useful in de-stimulating investment by location. This authority, however, will follow, not lead new industry trends focused on climate impacts. New price-mechanism led by mortgage bank lending and insurance company practices are rapidly reshaping the regulatory environment.

Hazard Assessment

The heightened assessment of climate impacts has begun. It will alter state and local protection of the nation’s watershed. The question is will it be in the interest of the general welfare. The wilderness urban interface will be focused on fire and flooding hazards more sharply than ever. The four early indicators examined here are instructive of two possibilities. First is whether an up from the grassroots leadership will emerge with effective, replicable legislative solutions. Second, whether obstructions to an effective national land-use policy will reduce the plausibility of a timely response.

  1. Recently U.S. Congress introduced legislation to require the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) to provide rules for finance disclosures examining climate change impacts. (here) and pubic responses (here). Federal legislation lacks consensus as  law makers remain willing to “wait it out” leaving the hazard guess work to the industries involved.
  2. The Federal Housing Finance Agency also has published a Request for Information for public input on this topic and collected numerous responses (pdf here)
  3. The Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB)(here), is an international consortium of businesses and NGOs, who publish annual guidance on accounting for climate risk in financial statements. The CDSB has yet to establish a “risk-standard” useful for the protection people in flood hazard areas.
  4. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maintains Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) identify Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). SFHAs are into divided into different flood insurance rate zones based on the magnitude of the flood hazard.

Hazard Awareness

While the legislators seek consensus, federal agencies request public input, and the international community struggles to lead, we find FEMA. It is a post-trauma agency. Their maps often are out of date regarding the ongoing production of single-family housing by an average of five years. Why? The maps establish plans for disaster readiness. They have an indirect influence on local land use and zoning policies. In this regard, FEMA estimates that thirteen million people in the United States (2020) — four percent of the population — live in SFHAs, the high flood-risk areas. On the other hand, The National Insurance Journal research identified 29 million flood risk properties outside the official flood zones (here).

About one million single-unit structures are part of the 1.5 million built in the United States each year (pdf here). The demand for housing still connects directly to flood-hazard areas. A mortgage and insurance may not be available; however, development loans will continue based on off-site collateral. The onus of risk by the occupants has accepted policy. What is becoming a concern is due to the growing number of households willing to be a risk yet require a public response.

David Burt is the founder of Delta Terra Capital, a climate risk intelligence agency aimed at institutional investors. In his testimony submitted to the Senate Special Committee on the Climate Crisis (3.20.21), he wrote:

“the damages to residential real estate will be roughly .85% per year, 58% higher than the amount collected by insurers to cover it.”

The risk assessment shared with large investor clients is vastly different than that shared with Joe Public looking for a house. See the deep end data drill down using Freddie Mac STACR 2020-DNA6 Credit Risk Transfer (CRT) securitization. (here).

Get Examples

The following example of the public response to addressing flood-hazard risk involves six watersheds west of the Hudson River in New York State. Funding combining city, state, and federal sources began in 2011 following the flood impact of Hurricane Sandy and more recent impacts such as the extreme rainfall of Hurricane Ida. The NYS watershed environments provide fresh, forest-cleaned water to over twenty million people without filtration. As a result, Flood-hazard analysis and related climate change impacts have become vital to the retention and resilience of this resource.

The Local Flood Analysis Program (LFA) served fourteen municipal areas preparing mitigation plans. The Stream Management Implementation Program (SMIP) examined design/construction activities, regulating implementation through a Local Flood Hazard Mitigation Implementation Program (LFHMIP). While voluntary, the City-Funded Flood Buyout Program (FBO) provides at-risk property holders with eligibility for a FEMA buy-out as well as assistance for those not eligible. In addition, New York implemented two other programs to engage the public and professionals with long-range planning with public funding. These are the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program and the Sustainable Communities Planning Program.

Data is requested on Hazard Assessment, Awareness, and Local Examples and the connection to housing affordability: (initial locational sources in NYS (here).

Favela Policy

“The demonizing rhetoric of the various international wars on terrorism, drugs, and crime is so much semantic apartheid: they construct epistemological walls around gecekondusfavelas, and chawls that disable any honest debate about the daily violence of economic exclusion.” 

Mike Davis in Planet of Slums

War has matured from violent mechanization into routine political practices during the last century. All of them are tightly organized into specific spatial groupings. The roots of this application of power are well understood as the feudal, colonial, and postcolonial geographies of domination. The range of its influence on policy today requires revocation for one reason. It is a destroyer of cities. A good place to prove that a repudiation of the favela policy and a positive alternative is possible can be found in the neighborhoods of NYC. The damaging option is the long list of slowly enlarging favelas and poverty-occupied regions across the global city.

Practical perspectives from a progressive city like New York observes its urban world as a global entity. The phrase “core-periphery spatial structures” used to describe this view is academic but valuable when looking at the location of housing development sites that explain the attempt to meet human needs or fail to do so in the urban world.

The persistence of poverty has a place name in every country.

Housing Discussions

The following paragraphs introduce other posts in The Report on the subject of housing. First, it introduces access to resources that examine the world’s “shantytown.” Second, it looks at the failure of the built environment professionals to “step it up.” as leaders. Finally, two other articles focus on the idea of strategic exactions in housing development and the other on the crisis of “rent” in New York City as a bellwether for the nation. So here they are:

The Informals

Like the instruments of war, similar practices in the formation of political structures use spatial organization in a direct attempt to control people as capital. “Informal Settlement” is a standard description for the construction of this capital. It is a phenomenon that is considered an organic condition brought about by a long list of market failures. A short introduction to them will be found (here) for a more intensive global location examination. These are places where subsistence economy suffering is collective, but the observer will also discover many compelling examples of the creative human spirit at its finest. In many cases, the failure to find access to capital flow hierarchies, often identified as the property of the powerful, fails all of us.

Creating a Living Place

A more extensive examination of the causes is placed on the doorstep of the professional facilitators (here). It is not unfair to call out the lack of a professional moral compass among the building investor professions. This failure is not from the viewpoint of individuals but the institutional nucleus of their domains. The membership of the built environment institutions has not been one-tenth as capable of addressing the issues that cause human suffering as those of health and law. There are exceptions that prove efforts to fix this problem, have occurred thru failures. The Report includes a post entitled Brooklyn is Charitable (here). In it, there is a small list of organizations and institutions that are attempting to push and pull urban planning, architecture, and engineering into the world of social and environmental justice.

Strategic Exactions

The introduction of new urban housing and the question of affordability is highly complicated. Will the introduction of a “gentry” encourage the displacement of lower-income who rent? Will higher-income people, regardless of skin color, remain silent in defense of the vulnerable members of a community? A post is entitled “Castling” and examines this medieval structure as a classic metaphor for power. It examines many of the anti-displacement strategies for New York City neighborhoods (here). It also looks at the American urban version of the favela, politely referred to as geographies of the city where “persistent poverty” is the issue. Detailed examination of cause is addressed but awkwardly separated. Finally, this post looks at “exactions” with the name community benefits agreement and ideas about alternatives such as “strategic exactions.”

The Rent Crisis

A detailed look at housing malfunctions is (here). One of the points made in this post is how an organization was founded in 1937. The genius of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council (CHPC) is how the five rooms of an apartment can represent the five costs of development. These are 1) construction, 2) taxes, 3) land, 4) money, and 5) operating costs. CHPC points out that of all five costs, only one has the most significant impact on rent. Answer: the cost of money is the primary factor. Today a change of one percent in the average interest rate from development through permanent financing could alter rents significantly. Attempts to manipulate all of the other costs yield minimal impact on rent.

Freddie Mac estimated at the end of 2020 that the United States was 3.8 million housing units short of meeting the nation’s needs. Combine that with the surge of millennials into the housing market — they represented more than half of all mortgage originations last year — as well as the insatiable appetite of investors, who now snatch up nearly one in six homes sold in America. The contours of a new, lightning-fast, permanently desperate housing market come clearly into view.”

New York Times, 11/12/2021

Housing and Climate

Tweets from housing advocacy groups warned of the 2008 Recession for five years (here). They see another housing crisis forming in America caused by raising public awareness. It is about how equity was kept away from people by Americans against themselves. It is an issue defined by the nation’s 400 hundred-year heritage of enslavement, cold, racist terrorism, and bigotry. These facts also describe the world’s history, but it is the U.S. Constitution that had some ideas about how moral people could change immoral societies.

RLC – OCCUPY

Housing is Equity

Problems that hurt people and go undefined and unanswered create a climate for authoritarian solutions. The often-told answer is an old retort of hard work, healthy homes, communities, and families. The response is correct but blind to the history of privileges extended to white America as it became the United States. For centuries rights and freedoms were extended to all people. Yet, policymakers made denial of pathways to equity routine. The bias crime barred the accumulation of wealth from property to serve succeeding generations. The quiet yet insidious reduction and denials of opportunity from education are proven. The lack of equity is significant.

Over a half-century has passed since the idea of forming nonprofit housing development corporations was established by concerned residents and city officials. In Brooklyn and throughout New York City, this emergent network of housing rights advocates works as nonprofit partners with housing developers drawing on various financial mechanisms to defend low- and moderate-income households from the myth of “market rate” access to housing. Formed in the early 1970s, the Association of Neighborhood Housing Developers (ANHD) initially sought to bring equity to families by acquiring publicly owned (in rem) housing and converting it to various local ownership structures. The idea began during the great wave of housing vacancy and abandonment that started in the 1950s that destroyed entire neighborhoods. The pathway to equity remains narrow, easily recognized in the subtle name change of ANHD from developer to advocate. It is now the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development (here).

A public map listing of Brooklyn organizations is (here). One question is whether equity is created for low- and moderate-income households? Brooklyn’s housing rights and development organizations will struggle with the pandemic-stimulated crisis in rental housing. Yet, in this crisis, there is an opportunity to create new partnerships toward equity in housing because the issue is straight forward as this heading states:

In the centuries that led to the rise of American hegemony, not one person, not W.E.B. DuBois or even Martin Luther King, fully articulated the loss of equity. The voice of Ta-Nehisi Coates is the most current (here). He stands on firm ground because the U.S. has participated in reparations six times. The seventh time should take a long hard look at housing as linked to the displacement challenges posed by climate change.

Every problem is a housing location problem.

Ending the Wherever Movement

After WWII, localities keep a hold on the tail of the revenue bull while blind to the beast. As a result, in the last century, millions of households benefited from federal housing policies with only one location principle – housing wherever you want. However, in this new century reducing the mortgage interest subsidy on the demand side and weakening a long list of development incentives on the supply side has severely weakened federal leadership in housing preservation and development to continue the “build wherever” policy.

A new housing crisis is in the air for reasons other than systemic racism in America. Every issue connects to a housing problem. For some time, the equity crisis re-establishes classicism under headings such as “culture wars,” but the results change little. The metaphor is weak. Using resilience principles, the facts on every “next disaster” can be different. Technology offers opportunities to build a broader coalition on equity with justice that includes race by correcting past wrongs yet moves forward to circumvent long-established rules of “divide to conquer.”

The surge of affordable single-family housing in America continues in the hot wetlands of the south with periodic drought and the flat drylands of the south- and northwest with asymmetrical flash floods and fire. However, the onset of climate change will drown the wetlands, scorch and burn the drylands, and cause enormous disruptions in every region of the United States.

Recurrence Denial

Denying the annual recurrence of this possibility is a repudiation of science and a political endorsement of catastrophic resolution. I will not be surprised if we experience a bout of biblical pestilence in the narrative of the resistance to this long-term, permanent threat. Long before the direct links to climate change formed, the impacts of disastrous choices in land use development are rightly defined as “environmental racism” by pointing directly at the disproportionate number of low-and-moderate-income people losing equity. The damage and despair reveal a broad swath of painful historic bigotry, but now the dangers are thrown at everyone.

The opportunity to write national housing policies occurs routinely. The 2020 decade began with unmet demand for five million new homes.

The opportunity to write national housing policies occurs routinely. The 2020 decade began with unmet demand for five million new homes. It is possible to re-establish national housing development policies as the leading edge of a new strategy re-focused by climate protection. First, it can build on resources that combine restoration with resilience. Second, a new housing policy will create sustainable equity in communities. Finally, the procedures are in place to help people survive the hatred and bigotry injected into the threat of high water, drought, sickness, and fire.

It is possible to re-establish national housing development policies as the leading edge of a new strategy. First, climate protection will be re-focused on resilience and restoration. Second, it will create sustainable equity in communities. Finally, long standing human rights policy will help people survive the hatred and bigotry far too quickly injected into the threat of high water, drought, and fire.

Two Centuries Out

Living way up in Maryland’s Appalachian blue ridge range, it is easy to find seashell fossils.  When a friend built a house up there, they removed a boulder covered in Trilobite fossils, and there was a shark tooth that said to me the sea was here for a very long time, and it will be back.

The following summary of Tweets is from this site’s Tweet-O-Rama (July 2019.

The idea of a summary is that it may be possible to find threads of principle in policy that alter pervasive opinions.

One example is the purpose of a large national government.

As a result, it will be possible to forge new policy from environmental protection as a national defense strategy forced by the bright light of survival and a much more severe focus on the big picture. I offer one example.

The ocean’s tide can flow up and into the Great Appalachian Valley from Maine’s ports to South Carolina’s shores over the next few centuries. The ancient geological record proves it has been there before. Given a long-term view, getting ready should be a top priority. Preparation for this kind of “sea change” in all its meanings is the most critical action of this century (the original map as shown below is here). Issues like this are just the beginning:

Hundreds of practical policies governing housing equity and location can be surmised with a review of the location of vulnerable households.

The percentage of elderly who reside in coastal locations as provided by a Climate Central study.


Take your pick of issues for building a constituency on housing development and location. If the Gulf of Mexico’s fate is an alga thickened swamp, we need policies for what that means. If the Pacific Ocean’s vast torrents alter the Gulf Stream, El Niño yields unsurvivable surface heat or hundreds of tornadoes and hurricanes. Not being ready is a super bad idea. Whether friendly or with horrible force, heed the words, “the water will come.” The plan seemed different when time itself became for sale, and that is not a surprise if you know how non-fungible tokens (NFT) and blockchains changed all financial transactions.

Policy People

Please enjoy looking at the national Tweet-O-Rama organizations focused on housing (here). With those thoughts in mind, it is logical to look at politics as a sport and as a practice that is now very different from the role of leadership that it implies. A growing number of elected national representatives now complain of a system of government that appears to ignore the will of the people.

Buildings and Energy

  • Improve energy incentives in buildings by centralizing incentives. Update the State Energy Code swiftly and expedite “climate-friendly” projects. Prioritize energy efficiency initiatives for affordable housing.
  • The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) should be raised from 25% to 30%.
  • The Public Service Commission should be permitted to require time-of-use pricing, which allows the price of electricity to more closely track the actual cost of producing it on an hour-by-hour basis.
  • Provide incentives for installing a “smart meter” to allow for data exchange between the electricity provider and the customer’s electric meter.
  • Sub-metering should be required in all buildings to allow building owners to bill tenants for individual electric usage.
  • The State Energy Code should be amended to cover more building renovations; currently, only renovations that involve the replacement of 50% or more of a building’s subsystem must comply with the Code.
  • All new or substantially renovated school buildings should be required to meet green building standards.
  • Water and wastewater treatment plants should be required to adopt energy conservation requirements.
  • Reinstate the State Energy Planning Board

Land Use

  • The State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) regulations should be amended such that GHG emissions are considered for projects that are subject to it.
  • GHG emissions should be factored into local comprehensive plans.
  • Wind projects, including those offshore, should be encouraged and New York should adopt a statewide wind energy goal as part of its RPS requirement.

Vehicles and Transportation

  • Continue to strive for a 10% reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) below business as usual within 10 years; to this end, New York should initiate a VMT Task Force.
  • Consider imposing feebates on the purchase of new vehicles with low fuel economy and offer rebates on the purchase of vehicles with high fuel economy.
  • Encourage the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles.
  • Include Energy-saving vehicle maintenance techniques as part of the vehicle registration process.

Additional recommendations

  • Encourage the expansion of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) by promoting the adoption of an economy-wide cap on GHGs; in addition, consider lowering the existing cap.
  • Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology should be pursued provided that adequate federal funding is available.
  • Green workforce development should be promoted by enhancing educational and job training programs throughout the state.
  • Encourage the Interagency Committee on Sustainability and Green Procurement to be aggressive in setting green specifications for certain goods that are purchased by State agencies.
  • Promote methane capture by requiring or encouraging it in all municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills.
  • Improve its floodplain mapping system by taking into account future sea level rise.

New York State Bar Association Task Force on Global Warming reviewed New York’s existing laws and programs, including existing and pending federal laws regarding climate change.  The Task Force is chaired by Professor Michael Gerrard, Director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University School of Law.  (Jan. 2009.)  The proposals are organized into four categories: buildings and energy, land use, transportation, and others. In addition, the following was edited from the Executive Summary excerpted in the Law of the Land blog.

Affordable Housing

We can dream and have goals, but it is impossible to think things into existence. Direct action is required to be creative. A leader needs parents and friends that believe in action. A leader needs to be interested in exploring new steps and strategies that will end inequality and injustice.

The action takes courage, ideas, funding, and time. Suppose you would like more of that in the Ninth Congressional District (Map). We are everyone who reads this to share their personal experience, ideas, and actions in response to the issues and responses on housing.

Report on Hot Buttons

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table B25070 (2005-2016); retrieved from American Census.

The map shows the percentage of renter households who spend 50% or more of their income on rent.  In the CD9 area, this represents 27% to 35% of households as Rent Burdened.  It is unaffordable, with over 30% of household income.