Friday, December 26, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: De Blasio's Plan to House the City – Brick by Brick

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It's a magical mantra that's regularly repeated by almost every mayoral candidate on the campaign trail: New York City needs more affordable housing.

The issue is a sure winner in the five boroughs – where hundreds of thousands residents regularly grouse about their rents or mortgages. Besides Donald Trump, who wouldn't want more affordable housing for the city's residents?

Both Ed Koch and Michael Bloomberg focused on the issue in their 24 combined years as mayor – and Bill de Blasio is seizing on it because it's a policy issue near to his liberal heart that also dovetails as a political no-brainer. (I'm still waiting for some anti pre-k rally to sprout up somewhere.)

De Blasio's ambitious goal of building or preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next ten years was launched this spring with much fanfare. NY1's Grace Rauh is now looking closely at his plan in a series, "Brick by Brick."

One of the greatest challenges for de Blasio will be dealing with well-meaning people who say they support affordable housing but then don't mean so well when it's going to be built in the vacant lot next to their home. Everyone likes poor people getting help – in someone else's neighborhood.

Rauh tonight looks at how two very different Brooklyn neighborhoods are coping with the housing crunch. Brooklyn Bridge Park near Brooklyn Heights has quickly become a flashpoint between wealthy white residents and City Hall – which had always planned to build affordable housing in the area as part of the park's blueprint. And East New York – on Brooklyn's outskirts – will likely be a nexus for de Blasio's housing expansion push as it moves forward.

Another challenge for any mayor is the free-market forces of the city. You ultimately can't prevent a landlord from jacking up rents or ripping down a building and replacing it with a luxury high-rise. The affordable housing stock can be the collateral damage of the city's own success.

For the program to succeed, residents are going to have to do more than mouth platitudes. It's going to take people realizing that construction and expansion are part of New York's ongoing story. Even if it's in your own backyard.

Bob Hardt

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