In the wake of COVID-19, New York City agencies have had to make some adjustments to various guidelines. The latest one involves what constitutes affordable housing. Previously, the city defined affordable housing as any building where at least 30% of the units are considered income-restricted units. Meanwhile, the state requires only 20% of a building's units to be income-restricted. In order for construction on certain buildings to continue right now, the city had to change its definition of affordable housing to match the state's. Here's how and why.
Only Essential Construction Can Continue Right Now
Recently, Gov. Cuomo issued an order called “New York on Pause.” Just one of the details this order outline is which construction projects are considered essential, and which are nonessential at this time. While some construction projects have had to stop for now, others can continue, as long as they're needed.
For example, grocery stores, manufacturing facilities, roads, and bridges that were already on their way to being constructed can continue. In addition, homeless shelters and affordable housing projects under construction can continue to progress. However, this is where the state and city's definitions of affordable housing clashed, meaning one of them had to change in order to continue construction.
So, the Department of Buildings adjusted the city's guidelines to say that affordable housing only needs to have 20% of its units qualify as affordable. This way, more buildings with income-restricted units can keep being constructed, meaning NYC will be able to offer more housing for people who need inexpensive residential units. According to experts, this will be especially helpful once businesses begin reopening and people need affordable housing as they get back on their feet.
Updated Guidelines Affect Lots of New York Businesses
This determination of what's considered affordable housing in NYC is important because it's what decides which projects get to continue. And the Department of Buildings has already identified and given stop-work orders to over 100 projects that were deemed nonessential but still continued unauthorized. Granted, some projects that are essential have stopped work for now, too, as the developers decided it wasn't worth the risk for their employees.
Of course, all construction projects set to continue during this time have to have the proper precautions in place for workers. This usually includes requiring masks, checking temperatures of all employees each day, and ensuring construction workers are at least six feet apart from each other as much as possible while they work.
Notably, construction isn't the only industry struggling with changing guidelines lately. There are also some rules involving real estate, such as broker showings, that have been evolving in the last few weeks. Originally, real estate was deemed nonessential in New York, but now it's considered essential. However, only virtual showings are allowed, meaning all buying, selling, and real estate closings must take place online only, not in person.
If you're trying to buy or sell at this time, or if you're looking into affordable housing options in New York and need some guidance, you should get help from a real estate attorney. Contact a New York City lawyer today to set up a time to discuss your real estate concerns.
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