NYC’s Quality Housing Program

New York City’s Quality Housing Program began in 1987 as a way of maintaining the historical and architectural character of neighborhoods throughout the city. The program ensures that there are street wall provisions, maximum base heights and maximum building heights, after communities across NYC expressed concern about height factor, or “tower-in-the-park” buildings that disrupted the architectural cohesion of certain neighborhoods and slowed housing production. (

Quality Housing Program regulations are mandatory in contextual (sub) zones, where building setback and height are more uniform. Contextual zones are distinguished on zoning maps with A, B, D or X suffixes after their specific zoning designation. For example, developers in a R6B residential zone like Park Slope are required to adhere to the Quality Housing Program.

The program allows for increases in Floor Area Ratio (FAR), where maximum FARs could be reached in a building with fewer stories. For example, it would take 14 stories to meet a maximum FAR of 3.44 in a non-contextual R7 district, but in a contextual R7X district, a six story building will suffice to meet the same 3.44 maximum. This gives incentives to developers and encourages continued investment in these areas.

The four elements of the Quality Housing Program include: Building Interior, Recreation Space, Safety and Security, and Parking. These elements outline minimum and preferred standards for all buildings under the program. If these standards are met, then the buildings receive FAR reductions. (

1. The Building Interior component of the program outlines specific trash storage and disposal requirements, laundry facility requirements, and daylight in corridors.

2. The Recreation Space component outlines the minimum amounts of outdoor and indoor recreational spaces and regulations for landscaping as a percentage of the open lot area.

3. The Safety and Security section includes standards for the minimum number of apartments per corridor and the visibility of building entrances and elevators.

4. The Parking section includes special regulations for off-site and on-site accessory parking and the location of off-site accessory parking, as well as considerations for screening, which include trees and walls/fences that obscure the parking areas from the buildings.

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