Pratt Center’s Response to the Get Stuff Built Recommendations
The Adams administration’s Get Stuff Built recommendations were announced last week as a “bold…strategy to tackle [the] affordable housing crisis,” but in reality are a series of technocratic reforms to development approval processes that will provide little relief to low-income tenants and homeless New Yorkers. Pratt Center urges the City to focus on truly impactful solutions to our housing crisis, including comprehensive planning, low-income housing creation and preservation, and tenant protections.
The report, which was produced by the Mayor’s Building and Land Use Approval Streamlining Task Force (BLAST), presents environmental and land use review requirements primarily as obstacles to housing development rather than as tools to ensure transparency and public good in planning decisions. Rather than focusing on the underlying need for coherent citywide planning policy, the administration has misplaced focus on the efficiency of these public review processes for one-off discretionary decisions. The status quo of relying on developer-driven, ad hoc rezonings as planning policy will not address the need for low-income housing no matter how quickly they are approved. New York City should instead be embarking on anti-racist comprehensive planning.
The Get Stuff Built report also overstates the benefits of its recommendations to tenants. Citing analysis that environmental and land use review processes increase the monthly rents in new developments by $430, the report suggests that cost savings to the developer would be passed down to renters. The Task Force claims that “bureaucracy has kept money out of the pockets of New Yorkers,” but there is no evidence that developers and owners would reduce their revenues simply because they reduced their costs. Absent public investment and strong rent regulations, tenants will not see meaningful reduction in rent burdens or increased supply of low-rent housing. Yet the Adams administration has overseen sweeping budget cuts to service agencies in favor of increased police funding, understaffing at HPD that slows project approvals and lease-ups, and the highest rent increases to rent stabilized apartments since the Bloomberg administration.
Resolving our housing crisis will require bold government action including deep investments in low-income housing, strong tenant protections, and comprehensive community-based planning. This is a moment for the City to focus not on what it can do less but on what it must do more.