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Crews Work to Meet Mayor's Affordable Housing Goal

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One set of numbers sums up what may be Mayor Bill de Blasio's top goal for his time in office: 200,000 units of affordable housing, preserved or constructed, over the next 10 years. How far along is he? NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

Nail by nail, the mayor's affordable housing goal is coming together.

Crews are restoring a nearly century-old building in the Bronx's Highbridge section. By the end of this year, 65 apartments will be ready for those on a limited income.

Getting there requires demolition, renovation and a lot of behind-the-scenes number-crunching.

"The one thing about the 200,000-unit goal is that it is literally 65 units at a time," said Rafael Cestero, former commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. "Now, some of them are 350 units, but it's not just like you just renovate or create 200,000 units in one fell swoop."

Instead, the mayor's team continues, and tweaks, well-known ways to build for those who can't afford market rate, like vouchers, tax credits and zoning that trades bigger buildings for set-aside apartments meant for lower-income New Yorkers.

"We know people all over the city are faced with the challenges of a cost of living that is so high in general," de Blasio said Wednesday. "Well, the biggest piece of that, of course is housing."

The biggest chunk, 58 percent, goes to low income. a family of four making between $42,000 and $67,000 a year.

With much of city land so expensive, getting there requires spending. The estimated total cost over 10 years is more than $40 billion. That's more than the gross domestic product of many nations.

About one-quarter of the money comes from taxpayers.

Not only isn't it cheap, it isn't without controversy. Take one complex being built on the Far West Side of Manhattan. It will have market rate, and affordable, units, but depending on which ones you'll live in, you'll have a separate entrance."

It's been called a poor door, and de Blasio said he wants to change zoning that allows it. Some, though, say it's not so simple to put units together and still expect developers to want to build them.

There's also grumbling that City Hall isn't moving quickly enough, but it is on track to hit the goal when it comes to closing on newly constructed units, at least. By the end of June, it was more than 10 percent there.

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