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Title
Closing the Divide: Creating Equitable, Inclusive, and Affordable Communities
Location
Long Island, New York    New York City, New York    Westchester County, New York    
Publication Date
2019
Organization
Regional Affordable and Fair Housing Roundtable
Description
This report summarizes policy discussions of 28 organizations from New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County that met for over a year. Facilitated by Enterprise Community Partners and the Fair Housing Justice Center, the roundtable discussed nine regional challenges to affordable and fair housing with the intent of identifying shared priorities.

The roundtable recognized the importance of removing exclusionary zoning and other land use barriers to allow racially and economically integrated housing in urban and suburban areas throughout the region. To accomplish this, the report proposes state housing legislation requiring at least 10 percent of the housing stock in every local jurisdiction to be affordable to low-income households. Equitable housing choice in individual neighborhoods would be expected in jurisdictions with more than 100,000 residents. The legislation would also establish a state housing appeals board (to ensure timely approvals of by-right affordable housing and to override exclusionary regulations) and a vacant apartment acquisition program (to create larger rent reductions for less cost than can be obtained through low-income housing tax credits.

The report also lists low density as a major challenge to affordable housing. Policies to address this include mandatory inclusionary housing for rezonings in high-opportunity areas and near transit stations. Streamlining approval processes and allowing basement apartments and accessory dwelling units could also increase densities, especially in suburban localities.

In addition, the report offers policies to promote equitable access to affordable housing through protections addressing tenant rights, source of income, and persons with arrest or conviction records. Policies are also proposed to encourage mobility counseling and rental assistance, to promote school desegregation, and to balance the siting of locally unwanted land uses.

The roundtable discussed but was unable to reach consensus on community and residency preferences in gentrifying neighborhoods. Participants noted that such a policy can reduce displacement in some areas but also reinforce segregation in other locations.