A Housing Success Story

Guest Commentary

Volume CV, No. 3March, 2005

Councilmember Christine Quinn

Last year at this time I was invited by Local 802 to write a piece for the Women’s History Month edition of Allegro.

I am flattered to be asked again this year to make a contribution in what is becoming part of my personal annual Women’s History Month reflection.

During my preparation for this piece I realized that at the core of my relationship with Local 802 is a shared commitment to the health and well being of its members.

This well being is not defined by your union as limited to just the traditional union concerns which I support, such as job protection, a fair wage, and a well funded health insurance fund.

Rather, Local 802 approaches the well being of its members in a more comprehensive fashion, including supporting the Clean Indoor Air Act.

Since one of the truest ironies of New York City is that the very people who work so hard to make it such the desirable place to work and live — cultural workers such as musicians, artists, actors and museum staff — are having trouble affording to live in New York City themselves.

Having a safe and clean place to live, as 802 members know first hand, is basic component of ones well being, both financially, physically and mentally.

Therefore, in the past year I have been working with Local 802 on maintaining and expanding affordable housing in our city through the West Side rezoning plan referred to as the Hudson Yard Plan.

By working together, Local 802, the community and I were all able to achieve significant gains for affordable housing through the Hudson Yard Plan.

After the City Council finished negotiating this plan, we won 25 percent new permanently affordable housing.

Including the preservation of existing affordable units, this rezoning results in 28 percent permanently affordable housing for low, moderate, and middle income New Yorkers — an unprecedented commitment for a zoning plan.

This is made possible through a number of mechanisms.

By expanding the city’s current inclusionary housing bonus that allows developers to build larger buildings in exchange for setting aside a certain percentage of the units for affordable housing and combining it with the Hudson Yards District Improvement bonus, the likelihood and the frequency of the use of the inclusionary zoning housing bonus are significantly increased.

This rezoning also allows participation in the inclusionary zoning program and the 80/20 programs that give a tax brake to developers if they set aside 20 percent of their units for affordable housing simultaneously.

This is effective in both making these units permanently affordable and in ensuring that they will be used more often, thereby creating even more affordable housing.

In addition, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will create over 900 new housing units on several publicly-owned sites that will be permanently affordable to low- to moderate-income New Yorkers.

Another important victory is that the city will provide a $40 million Hudson Yards Affordable Housing Fund to create even more affordable housing opportunities in the neighborhood and throughout the city.

At our insistence, the Hudson Yards Special District will also include strengthened anti-harassment and the anti-demolition provisions of the Clinton Special District.

Because these new stronger anti-harassment provisions will also apply to the Clinton Special District, this is a victory in both the Hudson Yards rezoning area and in the Clinton Special District.

Local 802 has worked hard to shape the affordable housing components and is now chairing the Hudson Yards Affordable Housing Committee.

I look forward to continuing to work with Local 802 on the affordable housing component, as well as other issues in the future.

Your union can always count on my support.