Mayor Eric Adams hosted the Interfaith Breakfast this week, where he credited faith-based leaders for actively advancing affordable housing in the city. He gave a special shoutout to the faith-based affordable housing summit held last December.
As cities face affordable housing crises, it's important to ask the question - what is the best way to achieve affordable housing? We see arguments that public housing is a proven success story despite persistent efforts to undermine it. Pushing for regulation of real estate interests in public housing developments while furthering affordable housing programs could be effective in reducing homelessness and poverty, issues that plague many big cities in the U.S. like NYC.
We also see cases when housing policies undermine affordable housing efforts. An analysis by The City revealed that the number of rent-stabilized apartments in Ridgewood, Queens dropped by more than 65% in 2019, a sharp decline compared to about 10% decline citywide. Tenants suspect that landlords have been using loopholes in the city's rent regulation to excuse buildings from being subject to rent stabilization as new tenants are moving into Queens. The article offers ways for tenants to check their unit's rent history to verify rent stabilization eligibility.
Simultaneously, some residents displaced by Hurricane Ida remain without permanent housing despite the city’s effort. NYC's Housing and Preservation Department has been funding transitional housing at hotels for families after FEMA stopped funding in December 2022. Few families have the option to move to a shelter after being moved out of the hotel.
These are all different ways the city is responding to the housing crisis, and unsurprisingly, it’s no easy task. The NYC Council and the Mayor's Office were at odds over a new proposal that would allow conversion of office space to residential units. The proposal includes a provision requiring 25% of new units to be designated as affordable housing, and the Council is calling for a higher percentage to meet the growing housing demand in the city. The proposal is under review by the Council's land use committee.
Leadership from Houses of Worship
Houses of worship can fill some gaps in providing services. Trinity Church Wall Street awarded more than $57 million in grants in 2022. The final awards for the year went to nine organizations that are responding to crises faced by asylum seekers, homelessness, and others that contribute to strengthening resilience in NYC (and abroad).
At the national level, the federal government sees leadership from the faith community as a way to reach more residents. The American Rescue Plan centers equity in the national vaccine effort, and it plans to engage community-based organizations and houses of worship, especially those already present in racial and ethnic minority communities, to host community health expos and vaccine drives. The aim of this initiative would be to connect community residents with trusted members of their communities to access trustable health information.