Pratt Center Research

Sustainable Community Development

New York City's Housing Crisis: Private Development and Public Need

Report  |  December 12, 1983

In commemoration of Pratt Center’s 50th anniversary, we’re proud to present our 1983 report with the Center for Metropolitan Action at Queens College, “New York City’s Housing Crisis: Private Development and Public Need.” Released in the midst of the “Reagan Revolution,” it proposed two transformative solutions to the affordable housing challenges of the time: inclusionary zoning and the creation of a housing trust fund.

Accompanying a widely-attended Pratt Center event of the same name, the report sought to address: the Reagan Administration’s switch from direct subsidies of affordable housing to new Section 8 vouchers; the continuing and worsening shortage of housing; and the intense and chaotic character of new market rate development in Manhattan. It called for an innovative new policy requiring developers to provide affordable housing in their plans for “all new unsubsidized residential development of significant size (ten dwelling units or more),” and the creation of a permanent source of revenue dedicated exclusively to low- and moderate-income housing development.

The report informed Pratt Center’s efforts to press the Koch Administration to adopt an inclusionary zoning program, using fees on new development to finance affordable housing. Additionally, our research and advocacy helped prompt the Cuomo Administration and state legislature to create a New York State affordable housing trust fund. The report was also an important precursor to our work over two decades later which successfully won inclusionary zoning commitments in a couple of the City’s high-profile rezoning plans.

Read the full report here. And check out more historical work from our first 50 years here.