A recent study by the Manhattan Institute identified six community districts across the city where affordable housing can be built while still preserving the character of the surrounding neighborhoods. The districts are relatively wealthy – all in the top 40% in terms of per-capita incomes. The districts include Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge and Sheepshead Bay, the Bronx’s Riverdale and Kingsbridge, Queens’ Forest Hills, and Staten Island’s Mid-Island. Pushback from Not In My Backyarders (NIMBY), as well as restrictive zoning regulations, makes the potential for new affordable housing in these areas uncertain. (Manhattan-institite.org, 2022)
However, the study cites that the districts selected have preexisting structures like old commercial buildings and industrial sites near public transit, as well as large parking lots where affordable housing could be added without harming the charm of these neighborhoods. (Bloomberg.com, 2022)
Restrictive zoning practices since the 1960s has led to fewer new units of affordable housing being built, while at the same time, the population of the city has grown tremendously. Affordable housing solutions like infill housing, accessory dwelling units, and turning single family homes into duplexes, triplexes or quadplexes are difficult to approve and can be costly for developers.
Easing zoning laws in the city is a solution proposed by Mayor Eric Adams in his new housing plan. Doing so could help speed up construction of much-needed affordable housing. However, it will require a lot of people to say “yes in my backyard” instead of “not in my backyard”. (nyc.gov, 2022)