A housing crisis threatens New York City? Two politicians think they have an answer: a new “league” of officials like them who want to welcome development, including the development of market-rate apartments.
The two officials, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso and Manhattan City Councilman Erik Bottcher, created the group to counter the long-held theory that opposing development is a political victory. This idea, in the opinion of many housing experts, has helped create a shortage of hundreds of thousands of housing units in and around the city, driving up rents and housing prices as residents compete for supply limited.
On Monday, the duo sent an invitation to all 160 state and city politicians who represent part of New York City to come to an inaugural meeting next month. Mr. Reynoso said he wants officials to come even if they are skeptical, but not if they only want to resist housing.
“We don’t want you if you’re just a NIMBY,” Mr. Reynoso said, referring to the phrase “not in my backyard,” often used as a label for people who oppose development.
As of now, there are few details on what the “league” will look like. Mr Reynoso said much of the group’s structure would be hammered out in an initial closed-door meeting in March.
But he hopes the league can build on a growing willingness to foster development among politicians who might have opposed it in the past. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams have said the city needs hundreds of thousands of additional housing units, and Mr. Adams is pushing to rezone areas near transit stations and around low-density neighborhoods to add more housing.
Mr. Reynoso’s counterpart in Manhattan, Mark Levine, has called for housing to be built on underutilized land in that borough. Mr. Reynoso said the two borough presidents have “a healthy competition on their hands to solve our city’s biggest problem.”
Mr. Levine said in a statement that the city “needs elected leaders committed to this fight, coming together to support each other.”
Some things the league could do, Reynoso said, include: issuing statements against politicians who resist new construction; work with colleagues concerned that development could cause gentrification; and stand with politicians who want to support controversial new housing projects.
“What we want to do is a show of force from people who publicly support housing development,” Mr. Reynoso said.
This could be a big problem in New York, where proposals to build on certain lots or blocks turn into proxy fights for development and are sometimes torpedoed by local officials.
Last year, a slew of venues in Harlem attracted citywide attention when they were transformed into a truck depot after the local councilwoman objected to the development of a high-rise complex. This year, neighborhood groups are fighting over a proposal to transform an industrial building in Brooklyn owned by a linen company, Arrow Linen, into two new residential towers.
“Historically, what legislators have said to voters is, ‘If you elect me, I will help prevent new housing from being built in our community,’” Mr. Bottcher said. “We need to turn things around. »