Escalating housing costs have placed home ownership increasingly out-of-reach for many middle class and working families. This problem is particularly acute in southern Westchester, where the very people who sustain communities as teachers, fire fighters, police officers, sanitation workers, and civil servants often cannot afford to live in the places where they work.
To help meet this challenge, Councilman Jim Stowe and I recently proposed the adoption of an affordable housing policy for New Rochelle. Our goal is to ensure the creation of new, quality, affordable homes and apartments, without erecting significant barriers to continued investment in the city. The basic components of our proposal are as follows:
• 10% of all new housing developments of 10 units or more should be affordable.
• Affordability should be defined as in-reach for families and individuals at County median income in the case of for-sale units, and 80% of County median income in the case of rental units.
• Developers should be permitted to opt out of their requirement through contribution to a City-administered housing opportunity fund. This fund should in turn be utilized to construct and rehabilitate housing for families and individuals at 80% of County median income or less. The size of these contributions from developers should be set on a sliding scale — up to $100,000 per unit.
• Developers should be granted a “density bonus” equal to the percentage of affordable units they construct on-site.
The Council has had two discussions about this subject so far, and it is likely that our initial ideas will be modified to some degree prior to final adoption. I hope that a balanced, effective affordable housing policy can be agreed upon and implemented by this Fall.