in Housing, Housing Affordability, Urban Change

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.

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