New York City suburbs play a role in fixing the city’s housing crisis

New York City suburbs play a role in fixing the city’s housing crisis

The lack of housing in the city is often framed as something that exists only within the five boroughs and thus can only be solved within the five boroughs, minimizing or ignoring the crucial role played by the lack of development in the suburbs. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s housing plan, unveiled in her State of the State address on Tuesday, thankfully doesn’t fall into that trap, and the big question now is whether it can actually spur suburbs to build more.

Building more homes in the city itself is still vital, to be clear, and rightly so officials are focusing their energy. The city allowed 28 new units per 1,000 residents from 2012 to 2021 and lags far behind other metro areas such as Boston and Washington, D.C., in housing production, according to the governor’s office.

But the suburbs fared even worse over the past decade, with the mid-Hudson region allowing 22 new units per 1,000 residents, the lower Hudson region allowing 13 and Long Island allowing just seven. This lack of growth plays a large role in making the city’s housing market so notoriously competitive and expensive.

One of the main reasons that rents in the city spent so much of 2022 reaching record levels is that house prices in surrounding areas were also very high, partly due to a lack of supply. This has effectively locked out even relatively wealthy families in the city’s rental market, as paying too much for an apartment is still easier than finding an affordable home in the suburbs, helping those apartments remain expensive. More suburban options for these families would open up more apartments in the city and reduce the pool of people willing and able to pay $5,800 a month for what the broker swears is a two-bedroom if you’re creative enough .

Basic elements of Hochul’s plan include requiring downstate counties to increase their housing supply by 3% every three years and asking communities with Metro-North commuter rail stops to allow more housing. rezoning the area within a half mile of a station. These seem like reasonable enough questions, but New Yorkers will learn soon enough whether the suburbs will work harder to meet the new housing requirements or avoid them — or whether resistance to them will be strong enough to stop the plan before it starts. , which happened with a proposal to add affordable housing to the suburbs just last year.

Hochul calling out the areas around the five boroughs for the lack of housing production is encouraging, but making sure this actually turns things around is where the real work begins.

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