“Big Ideas for the Big Apple,” a conference on New York City’s housing issues hosted by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy and the Moelis Institute for Affordable Housing Policy on April 10, culminated in a “Mayoral Forum on Affordable Housing” featuring six candidates running for New York City mayor.

Vicki Been ’83, Boxer Family Professor of Law and director of the Furman Center, introduced the forum with an overview of the city’s daunting housing challenges. “Even during the economic downturn, rents continued to rise in the city as income stagnated or declined, with the result that low-income and middle-income families across New York City are paying more and more of their incomes toward rent,” she said. “At the same time federal support for affordable housing is declining, federal funding for affordable housing programs in New York City and across the country is going to take a significant hit from sequestration.... How the city takes on this challenge of creating and preserving affordable housing in an environment of increasing needs, declining federal support, and a strengthening real estate market will have an enormous effect on the livability, diversity, and character of the city.”

Local politicians Sal Albanese, Adolfo Carrión Jr., Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Christine Quinn, and Bill Thompson all weighed in on the city’s housing policy in a sometimes passionate 90-minute discussion moderated by WNYC radio talk show host Brian Lehrer. While some talking points sounded decidedly campaign-like, the candidates covered a wide range of substantive issues relevant to the complex topic. At various times the exchange touched on the impact of rezoning on neighborhoods, vertical growth, the question of taking campaign contributions from real estate developers, the dearth of affordable middle-income housing for average New Yorkers whose income excludes them from government aid, the loss of professional talent and erosion of the tax base due to lack of affordable housing, the homelessness problem, and ways to better leverage existing federal aid programs.

Watch the full video of the mayoral forum (1 hr, 32 min):

Posted on April 25, 2013