The Real Deal: Mayoral candidates tackle affordability, cancel rent in housing debate

The top mayoral hopefuls agree that more affordable housing for the lowest-income New Yorkers is needed. But the details on how best to do that get a bit fuzzy.

During the first televised mayoral forum of the 2021 race, NY1 host Errol Louis asked the Democratic candidates if they would provide a “hard number expressed as household income of the kinds of families” their affordable housing programs would target and if housing that targets families earning income “even slightly higher” than the area’s average constituted gentrification. Most of the eight participating candidates largely stuck to their scripts on their publicly announced housing plans and didn’t address the gentrification question directly.

Shaun Donovan, who served as the top housing official for Mayor Michael Bloomberg before serving as President Barack Obama’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development,
stressed that federal rental assistance programs will be key to helping families who earn less than $15,000 a year.

“The single-most important answer for our lowest-income families, who need the help the most, is to dramatically expand help from Section 8 and other rental assistance that will allow you to pay the bills,” he said.

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