U.S.: City of Yes for Housing Opportunity (April 2024 Update)

The Adams’ administration recently unveiled its third and final proposal as part of New York City’s “City of Yes” initiative to aid small businesses, create jobs, expand affordable housing opportunities, and promote sustainability through zoning reform. This latest initiative targets the housing crisis and aims to create new high-density residential zoning districts across the city by raising the floor area ration cap. Below is a breakdown of the key developments of the proposal. 

The Adams administration is building momentum in its plans to tackle New York City’s housing crisis. On March 28, 2024, Mayor Eric Adams announced a new initiative for his City of Yes for Housing Opportunity zoning text amendment. The initiative aims to increase the number of high-density residential buildings throughout the city by raising the floor area ratio (FAR) cap.  The current cap, which was enacted in 1961, is set at 12 FAR and applies citywide, except for conversions of non-residential buildings in certain areas of the city. The Adams administration claims this cap hinders development of affordable housing in high-demand neighborhoods, which is what the city needs to address surging rent prices, record-low vacancy rates, displacement, inaccessibility to mass transit, and chronic housing insecurity.

Mayor Adams is therefore calling on state lawmakers in Albany to raise the cap from 12 FAR to 15 or 18 FAR, which would permit new residential zoning projects to build up to 15 or 18 times their lot size and allow for more residential housing development. To do so, project sites would have to be rezoned, which would trigger compliance with the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program (MIH). Under MIH, 20 to 30 percent of the residential portion of a development must be permanently affordable for tenants earning an average of 40 to 80 percent of the area median income. 

To bolster its position, the Department of City Planning (DCP) released a set of rezoning lookback reports, which analyze 15 qualifying rezonings that were approved in 2009, to examine how the rezonings impacted housing production in NYC. DCP asserts that the reports reveal a trend between restrictive zoning in low-density neighborhoods and a sharp decline in residential development, with new projects occurring in only limited areas of the city. 

DCP Director Dan Garodnick says New York City is ready to act as soon as state lawmakers lift the FAR cap and the City Council adopts the proposed text. The Adams administration and DCP have signaled an intent to build denser residential buildings in areas such as Midtown Manhattan, Lower Manhattan, Long Island City, and Downtown Brooklyn. Many elected officials and most housing advocates and planning professionals have welcomed the removal of the 12 FAR cap; however, certain city and state officials reject the notion on principle.  Senator Liz Krueger, assembly members Jo Anne Simon, Deborah Glick, Grace Lee, and City Council member Christopher Marte are among those that have opposed increasing residential density across the city, arguing that the current cap should remain in place because it protects against overdevelopment and preserves historic neighborhoods.


This Special Bulletin highlights some of the key developments regarding the City of Yes for Housing Opportunity proposal, which is the third and final proposal of the Adams’ administration’s City of Yes initiative. City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality was adopted by the City Council in December 2023, and the City of Yes for Economic Opportunity was approved by the City Planning Commission on March 6, 2024 and is currently under review by the City Council.  City of Yes for Housing Opportunity is currently under environmental review by the DCP. It is expected to be referred for public review by community boards and borough presidents later this spring. We will continue to closely monitor these initiatives, and will be issuing updates throughout the spring and summer. 


Authored by Ross Moskowitz, John Egnatios-Beene, and Stephanie Carola.

Ross Moskowitz
New York
John Egnatios-Beene
New York
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