Inclusionary Housing NYC Explained

by | Last updated Jun 3, 2020 | NYC Zoning, Property Development

In New York City the Inclusionary Housing Program has a set of zoning regulations meant to promote mixed income housing. There are three types of Inclusionary Zoning in NYC: Mandatory, Designated, and R10. The Inclusionary Housing Program has incentives that offer higher allowable floor areas to developers who provide a portion of their building with affordable units.

The goal is to provide an incentive for developers to include some low income units into their market rate building developments. The entire buildings are not low income. They are mixed income buildings. Let me outline a few basic concepts about Inclusionary Housing NYC regulations, and most importantly discuss the benefits and penalties associated. Most people who are familiar with this program know about the Inclusionary Housing bonus but often forget about the Inclusionary Housing penalty. There are 3 types of zoning that has inclusionary housing: R10 Zoning, Mandatory Inlclusionary Housing, and Designated Inclusionary Housing.


Inclusionary Housing Program NYC

The inclusionary housing Program aims to promote and require private developers to build low affordable housing. This is done through zoning bonuses and penalties imposed on new construction and building enlargements. You must allocate a certain percentage of floor area to affordable housing within specified areas. The rest of the apartments can be market rate apartments, but a certain amount must be affordable.. There are ways to provide offsite low income housing as an alternative. We will not be going into the details on that in this article. We will be focusing on how this affects your zoning floor area. When you provide affordable units you can use the Inclusionary housing Bonus for the building Zoning Floor Area in the right zoning districts.

There are 3 types of Inclusionary Housing Zoning Areas:

  • Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Areas (affordable units required)
  • Inclusionary housing Designated Areas (affordable units optional)
  • R10 Zoning with Compensated Zoning Lot (affordable units optional)

Just because your property is in one of these zones does not mean you are in a mandatory or designated inclusionary district. You need to verify the applicability of these regulations to your specific property. R10 zoning would qualify anywhere for the optional compensated housing bonus. The following boroughs have mandatory and optional inclusionary zoning areas: Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.

The following are Residential Zoning districts that may be affected:


Inclusionary Housing NYC

Mandatory Inclusionary Housing NYC

Required Inclusionary Zoning NYC districts

You must provide affordable units in the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Areas. Before planning any development you should check to see if you are in one of these areas. Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens all have Inclusionary Housing areas. These mandatory districts are not very common.

The Zoning Bonuses from the Designated Areas apply to Mandatory Inclusionary Housing with a few modifications, but we will not list them this post is meant to be a general overview.


Inclusionary Housing Designated Areas

Optional Inclusionary Zoning NYC districts

There are certain areas zoned as Inclusionary Housing Designated Areas. These areas are optional voluntary Inclusionary housing districts and you have the right to participate or opt out. If you participate you will get a zoning bonus for a larger building, see chart bellow. If you opt out you may incur a zoning penalty according to the typical base floor area, also see chart below. The chart is based on the Quality Housing Program base floor area, then the Inclusionary Housing NYC base floor area, and the inclusionary housing bonus. Before planning any development you should check to see if you are in one of these areas. These are in parts of Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Quality Housing Program

The Quality Housing Program has nothing to do with low income housing it is a specific set of zoning regulations optional in NYC and required in certain areas. We are using this as the control group so to speak to show the difference in floor area for penalty and bonus.

FAR – Floor Area Ratio

All properties have a maximum floor area that can be developed this is based on a formula called the Floor Area Ratio. In Inclusionary housing there are Zoning Bonuses that increase the Floor Area Ratio for a given property when providing affordable units. You can read another post we wrote on How to Calculate Floor Area Ratio to learn more on the subject.

Basic Overview of Floor Area Ratio

FAR or Floor Area Ratio is a factor to determine how many square feet you can develop on a property. You multiply the lot area by the FAR and that gives you the maximum allowed building floor area. A property that is 10,000 square feet with an FAR of 10 can have a building that is 100,000 sq ft.

How to read the chart below:

The first column is the zoning district.

The second Column is the Base Floor Area Ratio (FAR) as per quality housing program in an area without Inclusionary Housing.

The Third Column is the Base Floor are Ratio (FAR) in Inclusionary Housing Designated Areas. In some districts you will see a reduction or penalty from the second column.

The Fourth Column is the Inclusionary housing BonusFloor are Ratio (FAR).

Inclusionary Designated Area Bonuses

The Floor Area can be increased at a rate of 1.25 of the floor area provided for affordable units. The chart below lists the maximum bonus available.


Inclusionary Housing Penalties & Inclusionary Housing Bonus

Applicable Zoning DistrictsFAR for Quality Housing PRogram outside of Inclusionary Housing Designated AreasFAR Penalty Inclusionary Housing Designated areasFAR Bonus for Inclusionary Housing
R6B22 2.2
R6 beyond 100 Feet of a Wide Street2.22.2 2.42
R6 within 100 feet of a wide street32.70 2.6
R6A32.70 3.6
R7-2 beyond 100 Feet of a Wide Street3.442.70 3.6
R7-2 within 100 feet of a wide street43.45 4.6
R7A43.45 4.6
R7D4.2 (NYC Zoning information on R7D is inconsistent for inclusionary housing)4.2 5.6
R7X53.75 5
R8 beyond 100 Feet of a Wide Street6.025.47.2
R8 within 100 feet of a wide street7.25.47.2
NYC Inclusionary Housing Zoning Bonuses and Penalties


R10 Zoning Districts

Inclusionary Housing NYC

If you are in an R10 Zoning district and not within a mandatory or designated inclusionary district you can still choose to do Inclusionary Housing. There will be no penalty if you do not. You will follow the typical zoning floor area ratio of 10 for noninclusionary buildings. You will have the optional Inclusionary Housing Bonus bringing you to an FAR of 12. There may be areas where R10 districts also have Mandatory requirements. You may be in a designated area where you have the bonus or alternatively a penalty depending what you choose.


Inclusionary Housing NYC

As an architect I study Zoning Codes closely, but these are complicated and quite involved issues. In this article we reviewed some of the basic concepts with regards to Inclusionary Housing. This post does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview of the topic.


Thank You for reading our blog post on the Inclusionary Housing Program Zoning.

Feel free to leave questions and comments below. If you are looking for an architect and would like to discuss a specific project you can contact us directly.


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Jorge Fontan
Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.