The Landscape for Commercial Property Conversions in New York City
Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the conversion of commercial space to long-term housing (especially, but not only, affordable housing) remains a topic of discussion amongst New York City policymakers. Repurposing under-utilized commercial space as housing might appear as a rebalancing of land uses in response to shifting demand—as well as a way to build new housing with fewer neighborhood objections over bulk and height. To better understand these opportunities and to supplement its prior research on the issue, the Furman Center held a workshop with leading architects, land use lawyers, housing providers, and policy experts. This brief addresses some of the most important barriers to commercial-to-residential
conversions, with a particular focus on hotels, and the options for policy interventions to promote additional conversions.
Economic Challenge for the Rent Guidelines Board
Rent stabilized apartments account for nearly half of all rental units in New York City and are a vital source of relatively low-cost rental housing. New Yorkers who live in rent stabilized apartments pay a lower median rent and have a lower median income than households in unregulated apartments, but are also more likely to experience maintenance deficiencies. The responsibility for overseeing the economic viability and affordability of this important housing stock rests with the nine-member Rent Guidelines Board (RGB), which sets annual rent adjustments for rent stabilized apartments. Given the importance of the rent stabilized apartment stock, it is essential to think hard about how to preserve both its quality and quantity.
The Role of 421-a during a Decade of Market Rate and Affordable Housing Development
The purpose of the 421-a tax exemption program, known in its most recent iteration as “Affordable New York,” is to encourage new housing construction by alleviating property taxes on the added value that comes with new development. Affordable New York will sunset in June 2022, and its future has been a source of much public debate. This brief takes a close look at development under various versions of 421-a during the last decade. It also examines the housing stock created under the current iteration of the program, Affordable New York. In addition, it examines the take-up of 421-a, the geography of development, and the types of units created with 421-a according to affordability and number of bedrooms. Understanding the recent impact of the program over the last decade is important for policymakers, stakeholders, and advocates as they consider the future of the program.
Challenges and Opportunities for Hotel-to-Housing Conversions in New York City
As the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath, policymakers in New York City and Albany have debated whether and how to support the conversion of hotels into housing—and especially affordable housing—as part of a solution to the city’s ongoing housing crisis. To better understand what opportunities for hotel conversion exist in New York City, this paper examines the legal regime governing hotel conversions to identify the most important regulatory barriers to such adaptive uses.
Rent Regulation for the 21st Century: Pairing Anti-Gouging with Targeted Subsidies
Rent regulation is designed to protect low-income renters against sudden rent increases that threaten their housing stability. However, market distortions and the lack of means testing or targeting limit the effectiveness of many rent regulation systems. This policy brief outlines an approach combining anti-gouging regulations with shallow, targeted subsidies to maximize the benefits of rent regulation for low-income households.
The Challenges of Balancing Rent Stability, Fair Return, and Predictability under New York’s Rent Stabilization System
This brief lays out some of the challenges of balancing affordability and a reasonable rate of return; explains how New York City’s local governing body (the Rent Guidelines Board) incorporates building operating cost data to make rent adjustments; scans approaches used in other jurisdictions; and explores the potential consequences of eliminating rent increase mechanisms designed to be supportive of investment in repairing and improving the housing stock.