Letter of Support
Letter To New York City Leaders on “City that Says ‘Yes'”

Dear Mayor Adams, Speaker Adams, and Borough Presidents Fossella, Gibson, Levine, Reynoso, and Richards.

At the end of the first six months of this administration we have a housing plan, a valuable product of hard work and collaboration. We also have a vision for how equitable development can work in New York — a vision of a ​“City that Says Yes” — yes to needed infrastructure, yes to job opportunities, yes to building more affordable housing.

Key to the last part of this vision is putting in place a citywide approach. This means passing citywide zoning amendments, which can lead to more equitable development throughout the five boroughs, and we are excited to collaborate with the administration to develop these. But just as key is to make sure that good proposals, especially those in areas with a dearth of affordable housing currently, are not defeated by a few neighborhood residents who would rather not see anything, no matter how needed, get built.

According to the New York Housing Conference, the inequity in affordable housing between neighborhoods is gigantic. The 5 City Council districts that have built the least affordable housing — District 13 in the East Bronx, Districts 19 and 23 in Northeastern Queens, District 46 in Southeastern Brooklyn, and District 51 on the South Shore of Staten Island — have averaged just 42 units of affordable housing since 2014. This is despite the fact that these areas themselves have significant need, with over half of the population being housing-cost burdened and a rental vacancy rate of just 3.2%. Meanwhile, the 5 City Council districts that have built the most affordable housing — all but one of which are over 85% Black and Hispanic and have median incomes of under $40,000 — have averaged more than 120 times this amount.

Making sure that all neighborhoods contribute to affordable housing means building not just in lower-income communities of color. But it also doesn’t mean wealthy Manhattan neighborhoods are the only ones who need to contribute more. Low-rise outer borough neighborhoods that have continually opposed new affordable housing, supportive housing, emergency shelters and other needed community infrastructure must also be in the discussion. This needs to be addressed when a new citywide zoning amendment is proposed, but it also includes affordable and supportive developments that are being proposed right now.

If we are going to be the ​“City that Says Yes,” exclusionary zoning policies can have no place anywhere in New York City — not in the future and not in the immediate moment. Some neighborhoods cannot be allowed to simply opt out as they have in the past. We urge both the City Council and Mayor’s Office to work together to maximize new affordable housing opportunities in each district and start us on the path to a more equitable and affordable city, with each council district participating equitably in NYC’s affordable housing plan.


Sarah Watson
Interim Executive Director, Citizens Housing & Planning Council

Baaba Halm
VP and New York Market Leader, Enterprise Community Partners

JoAnne Page
President & CEO, The Fortune Society

Rachel Fee
Executive Director, New York Housing Conference

Jolie Milstein
President and CEO, NYSAFAH

Tom Wright
President & CEO, Regional Plan Association

Moses Gates
Vice President, Housing and Neighborhood Planning, Regional Plan Association

Helen Schaub
Vice President, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

Beth Finkel
State Director, AARP New York

Lymaris Albors
CEO, Acacia Network

Daniel K. Johansson
Executive Vice President/CEO, ACMH, Inc.

Audette Fulbright Fulson
All Souls NYC, Peace & Justice

Brenda Rosen
President & CEO, Breaking Ground

Ruth McDaniels
Founder & CEO, Breaking the Chains of Your Mind

Neil Carlaon
Managing Partner, Brooklyn Creative League

Ayalet Porzecanski
Cantor, Brooklyn Heights Synagogue

Sharon McLennon Wier, Ph.D., MSEd., CRC, LMHC
Executive Director, Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY

Chibueze Okorie
Minister, The Church of Gethsemane

Rev. Jeff Wells & Rev. Alexis Lillie
The Church of the Village

Jennifer March
Executive Director, Citizens’ Committee for Children

Yvonne Stennett
Executive Director, Community League of the Heights (CLOTH)

Rafael E. Cestero
CEO, Community Preservation Corporation

Ralph Fasano
Executive Director, Concern Housing

Ray Rogers
Director, Corporate Campaign

Mark Ginsberg
Partner, Curtis + Ginsberg Architects LLP

John Woelfling
Principal, Dattner Architects

Elizabeth Grossman
Executive Director, Fair Housing Justice Center

Michelle de la Uz
Executive Director, Fifth Avenue Committee

Linda Rousseau
Co-Chair, Peace & Justice Task Force, First Unitarian Church of All Souls

Charles Brass
Partner, Forsyth Street Affordable Housing

David Cleghorn
President, H.E.L.P. Development Corp.

Matthew Dunbar
Chief Strategy Officer, Habitat for Humanity New York City and Westchester County

Bonnie Mohan
Executive Director, The Health & Housing Consortium

Kobina Arhin
CEO/EVP, Highbridge Comm. Dev. Corp

Hemant Wadhwani
Advisor, Hindu American Seva Communities

Catherine Trapani
Executive Director, Homeless Services United

Walter M. Roberts
Executive Director, Hope Community, Inc.

Aaron Carr
Executive Director, Housing Rights Initiative

James Dill
Executive Director, Housing and Services, Inc.

Joel Berg
Executive Director, Hunger Free America

Marc Greenberg
Executive Director, Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing

David Goldstein
Partner, Goldstein Hall PLLC

Bernell K Grier
Executive Director, IMPACCT Brooklyn

Michael Lappin
Director, Lappin Associates

Valerie White
Senior Executive Director, LISC NY

Allison Nickerson
Executive Director, LiveOn NY

Kirsten Shaw
VP Northeast & Mid-Atlantic Regions, Low Income Investment Fund

Derrick A. Lovett
President and CEO, MBD Community Housing Corp.

Tyrrell Muhammad
Brother, Men Talk Brooklyn

Salvatore D’Avola
Executive Director, Neighborhood Restore HDFC

Nicole Branca
Executive Director, New Destiny Housing

Susan L. Solomon
CEO, New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute

Richard L. Koral
Clergy-Leader, New York Society for Ethical Culture

Khabir John McGeehan
Imam, Nur Ashki Jerrahi Sufi Community

Brenda Berkman
Chair, Justice Ministries, NYC Presbytery

Eugene Schneur
Co-Founder / Managing Director, Omni New York LLC

Sara Newman
Director of Organizing , Open Hearts Initiative

William Thomas
Executive Director, Open New York

Robert Robinson
Special Advisor, Partners for Dignity & Rights

Richard Tag
Chairman & CEO, PPP Secular

Danielle Minelli Pagnotta
Executive Director, Providence House

Basha Gerhards
Senior Vice President of Planning, Real Estate Board of New York

Scott Short
Chief Executive Officer, RiseBoro Community Partnership

Maria Viera
VP, Community Affairs, RiseBoro Community Partnership

Jone Johnson Lewis
Leader, Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture

Mitchell Netburn
President & CEO, Samaritan Daytop Village

Evelyn Wolff
Executive Director, Selfhelp Realty Group

Alexa Sewell
President, Settlement Housing Fund

Sr. Margaret M. O’Brien
Leadership Team, Sisters of Charity of New York

Carol De Angelo
Director of PJIC Office, Sisters of Charity of New York

Christina M. Byrne
Executive Director, St. Francis Friends of the Poor, Inc.

Frank Lang
Director of Housing, St. Nicks Alliance

Maclain Berhaupt
Interim Executive Director, Supportive Housing Network of New York

Valerio Orselli
Project Director, This Land Is Ours CLT

Vivian Sonnenfeld
Member, UES Open Hearts

Susan Stamler
Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses

Anthony Shitemi
Principal, Urban Architectural Initiatives RA PC

Debbian Fletcher-Blake
CEO, VIP Community Services, Inc.

Myung Lee
President and CEO, Volunteers of America-Greater New York

Paul R. Freitag
Executive Director, West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing (WSFSSH)

Christine Quinn
President & CEO, Win

Jess Burke
National Vice President of Advocacy, Zioness Movement

Shams DaBaron
Independent Activist, Da Homeless Hero

Magalie Bonhomme
Shelter Resident, Weston TLC — The Bridge

Melissa E. Sanchez
Professor and Manhattan resident

Olivia Sohmer Rosenbaum
Hearing Officer and Brooklyn resident

Maria Mottola
Consultant and concerned citizen

Adel O’Regan
Consultant and concerned citizen

Carol Martin
Teacher and concerned citizen

Michael Hickey
Man About Town, concerned citizen

Lisa Wright
Faith-based community activist and citizen

Jill Eisenhard
Nonprofit Consultant, Brooklyn resident

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