A top de Blasio official has been calling developers of affordable rental buildings about a new regulation that would require them to house homeless families—the administration's latest attempt to stem the city's record-setting shelter population.
Vicki Been, commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, recently made the calls to a handful of developers who received a now-defunct tax exemption called 421-a, according to sources with knowledge of the calls. The tax exemption requires that at least 20% of a building's units be enrolled in the city's affordable housing program.
"This is the latest reform in our effort to address the homeless crisis we face," said an HPD spokeswoman in a statement. "Addressing homelessness is a moral imperative. These new marketing procedures are another new tool we are using to help reduce the burden for families who are being forced out of their homes."
The city has struggled with a surging homeless population that topped a record 60,000 this month, with families with children making up two-thirds of that total. And earlier this year, domestic violence surpassed eviction to become the No. 1 reason for being admitted to a shelter, according to Crain's.
While it is not unprecedented for the city's top affordable housing official to personally call developers to inform them of a new policy, Been's entreaties are a sign that the administration is serious about getting this one off the ground quickly and is willing to exert more pressure on companies to comply.