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Manhattan Borough President Pushing for Affordable Housing in NYC

DESIREE NIKFARDJAM, HOST: New York City rents have reached new heights - the median cost for a one-bedroom is over 4-thousand dollars a month. As Dean Condeleo reports, city lawmakers say they have a new plan to brings prices down closer to earth. 

DEAN J. CONDOLEO, BYLINE: Over half of New Yorkers spend more than a third of their income on rent. Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine says affordable housing is urgently needed. 

MARK LEVINE: “We are here in the midst of the worst housing affordability crisis this city has ever faced. It’s a disaster for low income new yorkers, even working class and middle class New Yorkers”

CONDOLEO: Levine went on to say when an affordable apartment does become available, the city gets up to a thousand applicants. Standing before city hall this morning, Levine announced a new plan that he says will create more reasonably priced apartments. 

LEVINE: “It would tell developers, if you're going to build in a dense residential area, we're going to let you build some more, twenty percent, as long as every square inch of that additional density is used for affordable housing and only affordable housing.”

CONDOLEO: Levine’s proposal seeks to create over ten thousand affordable housing units city-wide. Council member Keith Powers, who represents midtown , says his team has been trying to figure out what affordable would mean.  

KEITH POWERS: “We took the number twenty-five hundred, which used to feel like a reasonable amount to pay for a one bedroom. There's only six in my district that you can pay that. I think I'm surprised there's six, to be honest, and they are not one bedrooms, my friends. They are closets.”

CONDOLEO: Council member Eric Bottcher represents the west side of Manhattan below Times Square. He says New York is just overstuffed with people. 

ERIC BOTTCHER:“We had between 2010 and 2020 a net population gain of over 630,000. That's the population of Detroit coming to New York over 10 years. We only added just over 200,000 units of housing.”

CONDOLEO: Researchers predict this level of growth will continue, in the words of Bottcher, adding another Detroit. State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal says the future of New York depends on solving this crisis. 

BRAD HOYLMAN-SIGAL: “We know on the west side of Manhattan that it's harder to find young people who can afford to live in our district. But it’s also important to our economy, because if New York City can no longer attract young people, we will no longer lead the nation in so many industries.”

CONDOLEO: Brendan Cheney is the Director of Policy and Operations at New York Housing Conference. He says this is more than solving a problem for any one type of New Yorker.

BRENDAN CHENEY: “For young people joining the workforce who are priced out, it's for families with too few options, and it's for older New Yorkers that want to stay and live in New York.”

CONDOLEO: It’s up to lawmakers in Albany to move this plan further. Dean Condoleo, Columbia Radio News.

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