Mengqing Chen, MLA I 2017
Summer 2016
Organization: NYC Housing Preservation and Development (NYC HPD), New York, NY
Sponsor: Harvard Club of New York Foundation

“This week I met with the Senior Reviewer for inclusionary housing. I learned about the program and the social impact on private residences and neighborhoods.

The Inclusionary Housing Program is a means to promote economic integration by offering developers optional floor area bonuses in exchange for building or preserving affordable housing, either on-site or off-site. Prior to April, 2016, all inclusionary housing projects reviewed by HPD were voluntary. They were not financed by HPD. Beginning in April, 2016, the  New York City Planning Department released a new requirement that set a milestone for the affordable housing industry nationwide. The new mandate requires that all inclusionary housing must include a certain percentage of affordable units. Further, the new housing must remain permanently affordable.

There are different options to locate affordable units, either on-site in the same building, on-site in a completely separate building, or off-site within the same Community District or within a half mile. The options leave room for manipulation. As a result, some inclusionary housing is actually designed to be buillt separately which accelerates social segmentation. There are tenants who complain that living expenses in the neighborhood are too high to be affordable. As a result, they have to travel to other neighborhoods for cheaper groceries. Although there are people who criticize the program for providing too many benefits to the private sector, the program does secure a  large amount of affordable housing for medium and low income families, and improves their quality of life.”