Affordable Housing Update
At the June 12th Board of Trustees meetings, the topic of affordable housing was discussed during various segments. In addition, there were several public comments, both pro and con, related to the discussion.
Firstly, the Public Hearing for the Village’s Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) was opened. Affordable Housing is the Number 3 Priority for our community as articulated in the Comp Plan, after Protecting the Village from Storms, Floods and Rising Sea Levels and Making our Streets Safe for Walking and Biking.
Secondly, the Board of Trustees has proposed a local law, I-2023, See HERE to expand incentives for property owners to develop more affordable housing. That Public Hearing has been ongoing for a while and is waiting for a consistency determination from the Harbor Coastal Zone Management Commission.
Housing prices have been rising steadily for a number of years and the data collected for the Comp Plan cites a Westchester County Housing Needs Assessment Report that indicates that 41% of Village households are paying more than 30% of their gross income for housing. Thirty percent of income is the upper limit of the definition of affordability. The situation has worsened in the ensuing four years.
Mamaroneck has often been cited as a leader in affordable housing and the Washingtonville Housing Alliance, a local non-profit, has been instrumental over the years in creating and managing affordable housing. When Westchester County was sued in the early 2000s, the Village of Mamaroneck was not included in the lawsuit because we had “enough” affordable units. However, the need has only increased, and the number of units has lagged behind. In fact, affordable units included in condominium developments such as The Regatta and Continental View lost their designation after 20 years and are now market rate units.
What is affordable housing? Housing affordability is determined by several factors: the Area Median Income (AMI; as determined by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development), any allowable AMI adjustment for location (Westchester County is a high cost area so our AMI is not capped at the national average) and family size.
The Zoning Code for the Village defines affordable housing as the maximum yearly rent, excluding utilities, does not exceed 30% of 80% of the current AMI. Eighty percent of the 2022 AMI for a family of four is $110,900.
Deeply affordable housing is defined as yearly rent that does not exceed 30% of 40% of the 2022 AMI. Currently, 40% of the AMI for a family of four is $55,440.
What is the Village of Mamaroneck trying to do? The Village can provide incentives for property owners to develop affordable housing units. Proposed Local Law I-2023 increases the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) incentives for affordable units in the C-1, C-2, RM-1, RM-2, and RM-3 zones. That means that if a developer includes the required number of affordable or deeply affordable units in the proposed building, they can build a larger building. This is one relatively small step toward increasing the housing stock for middle income households.
Members of the Mamaroneck Coalition for Affordable Housing, a local group of interested parties, were present to support the proposed law. A few Village residents were on hand to question any development when the schools, particularly Mamaroneck Ave School, are already crowded and traffic is so bad.
The Comp Plan included a series of recommendations to achieve the goal of increasing affordable housing. Goal 4a-19 is to create an Affordable Housing Committee. During the Work Session, and again at the regular meeting, Trustee Lucas attempted to do just that. Other members of the BOT pushed back. At the Work Session, they suggested the aforementioned Mamaroneck Coalition for Affordable Housing work with the Village. However, a quick review of the leadership of that Coalition by The Observer revealed that there are few Village residents, and a Committee of residents is imperative as buy-in by stakeholders is critical for success.