Affordable Housing is a problem in New York, because The City is one of the most expensive in the world to live in. New York City created the Inclusionary Housing Program to create new affordable units in NYC.
What is the Inclusionary Housing Program?
In New York City, the Inclusionary Housing Program is a set of zoning regulations to promote mixed-income Housing. The Inclusionary Housing Program has incentives that offer higher allowable floor areas to buildings that provide a percentage of affordable units. There are three types of Inclusionary Zoning in NYC: Mandatory, Designated, and R10.
The goal is to incentivize developers to include affordable units in their market-rate building developments, creating mixed-income buildings.
I am Jorge Fontan, an architect in New York and owner of Fontan Architecture, a Manhattan-based architecture firm. In this post, I will outline a few basic NYC Inclusionary Housing Program concepts.
Inclusionary Housing Program NYC
The inclusionary housing Program aims to incentivize and sometimes require private developers to build affordable Housing. The incentives a provided through zoning regulations. Within the Inclusionary Housing Program, you must allocate a certain percentage of the apartments to affordable Housing. The rest of the apartments can be market-rate, but a certain amount must be affordable. Inclusionary Housing does not apply to all areas. It is only in certain parts of the city and some specific zoning districts.
Inclusionary Housing applies in three areas within the city:
- Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Areas (affordable units required)
- Inclusionary housing Designated Areas (affordable units optional)
- R10 Zoning (affordable units optional)
Below is an example map from the NYC Zoning Resolution showing Mandatory Inclusionary Housing areas and an Inclusionary Housing designated area.
Mandatory Inclusionary Housing NYC
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 some Inclusionary Housing areas.
Inclusionary Housing Designated Areas
These areas are optional Inclusionary Housing districts where you can participate or opt-out. If you participate, you will get a zoning bonus for a larger building. If you opt out, you may get a lower zoning area than the typical base floor area. 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
People often confuse the Inclusionary Housing Program with the Quality Housing Program. These are different. The Quality Housing Program has nothing to do with affordable Housing. It is a specific set of zoning regulations optional in many parts of NYC and required in certain areas. You can see another post we wrote if you want to read more about the Quality Housing Program.
FAR – Floor Area Ratio
All properties have a maximum floor area that one can develop. Floor Area Ratio is a calculation for the zoning floor area. Within Inclusionary Housing, the Floor Area Ratio is increased for a given property when providing affordable units. The FAR can also decrease if you do not offer affordable units.
Floor Area Ratio
To calculate the allowable zoning floor area of a building, you multiply the lot area by the FAR. That gives you the maximum allowed building floor area. For example, a property that is 10,000 square feet with a FAR of 10 can have a building that is 100,000 sq ft.
I am going to use a property in R9D as an example. Let’s assume this lot is 10,000 square feet. In a regular R9D zone without Inclusionary Housing, you would get a FAR of 9. The FAR will change if you are in an Inclusionary Housing Designated Area. The FAR is 10 for providing a percentage of affordable units and 7.5 if you choose not to provide affordable units.
R10 Zoning Districts
Inclusionary Housing NYC
If you are in an R10 Zoning district outside a mandatory or designated inclusionary district, you may still choose to do Inclusionary Housing.
Zoning regulations are complicated and quite involved issues. In this article, we reviewed some of the basic concepts regarding Inclusionary Housing. This post does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition but provides a general overview of the topic.
Thank You for reading our blog post on the Inclusionary Housing Program in New York City.
If you are looking for an architect and want to discuss a specific project, you can contact us at Fontan Architecture directly.
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 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.