Can Bloomberg Build 165,000 Houses?

The Independent Budget Office came out with a look at the mayor’s housing plan, and while it echoes much of the praise from other quarters about it, it questions whether he will be able to meet his goal of building new affordable housing, as opposed to merely preserving existing units.

For one, the city has drawn down almost all of the money it was planning to spend from the Housing Development Corporation, which gives out second mortgages that reward developers for building affordable housing with very cheap financing (like, 1 percent loans).

“Briefly stated, we find that the city’s ability to accomplish the remaining … goals for preservation appears fairly solid,” the report states. “Funding the remaining units to meet the plan’s new construction goals, however, may pose more of a challenge.”

A spokesman for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Neill Coleman, said that the Bloomberg administration remained confident that the city could meet its target of building or preserving 165,000 units of affordable housing by the year 2013 and stay, more or less, within the $7.5 billion budget mapped out when the mayor was running for a second term.

“They sort of seem to look at it as if the preservation funding and new construction funding were separate funds,” Mr. Coleman said. “We have a lot more flexibility in terms of moving money between them than it seems from the report.”

If the plan doesn’t pan out, of course, Mayor Bloomberg won’t be around to take the blame. But then again, he won’t be around either to accept the praise if it does.

Can Bloomberg Build 165,000 Houses?