NEW YORK CITY—During this month's meeting of the B'nai BrithReal Estate division, multifamily developers paid rapt attention tokeynote speaker Carl Weisbrod, chairman of theNew York City Planning Commission. In a speechentitled “Planning Opportunities to Reduce Inequality,” he laid outjust why the city needs more housing—both of the affordable andmarket rate variety—and what his office plans to do to address thatneed.

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“We have 59,000 people in homeless shelters and 20,000 of thosecity residents are children,” he said. “For a modern society that'sunacceptable.”

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“So we're looking at areas of the city where we think we candevelop in a healthy way and create more housing than what iscurrently allowed. We're eyeing East New York, Flushing West andJamaica.”

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He continued, “We will introduce amandatory inclusionary housing program, whereby all new developmentin these rezoned areas will require a certain amount of affordablehousing. We want to see neighborhoods that don't have market ratehousing get it.”

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However, Weisbrod asserted, “The mandatory program puts aspecial burden on us because we want to see housing productiongenerally but if we demand too much, we get nothing; if we demandtoo little, we leave affordable housing on the table.”

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Other programs likely are down the pike, he suggested, but onlyafter careful study. “We are undertaking a financial analysis ofhousing in today's market, recognizing that there are hot markets,emerging markets and areas with no market, so it's going to have tobe on a case-by-case basis, one size doesn't fit all. But we wantto make this housing as of right, required and we want to make itwork. Those are our three goals.”

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And he reminded the audience that affordable housing isn't theonly type of development that would be welcomed by the CPC. “It's agrowing city so we have to provide for our workforce, not just forthe poor.”

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Rayna Katz

Rayna Katz is a seasoned business journalist whose extensive experience includes coverage of the lodging sector, travel and the culinary space. She was most recently content director for a business-to-business publisher, overseeing four publications. While at Meeting News, a travel trade publication, she received a Best Reporting award for a story on meeting cancellations in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.