Community Preference for New Housing

Require Community Preference for New Affordable Housing Built

Ensures that families displaced from their homes will have first right of return in new housing development.

Notice of new housing in New York City (photo by authors)

What's the issue?

For many cities, new affordable housing construction is a priority in meeting housing demand.  But often, these new affordable residential developments are not filled by many long-term residents of the neighborhood in which it's built, and are instead filled by newcomers from other areas of the city. As newcomers arrive and fill new affordable units, long-term residents are displaced.

How does community preference help?

Community preference policy gives long-term residents first access to new affordable units. This policy, based on New York’s Community Preference Policy, is designed to provide a majority of new affordable units for existing residents. A ratio of 70 long-term residents to 30 new residents will serve as a starting point for prioritizing existing residents in new developments. This ratio can be adjusted based on local demand. People who have lived in the zip code for at least five years will qualify as long-term residents. By allowing long-term residents to remain in place, this policy helps to prevent the destruction of community networks.

When and where does this policy work best?

This policy is most effective in communities where there is a lot of new affordable construction, and many long-term residents who qualify for subsidized housing.

Works best for neighborhoods in middle-stage gentrification

Works best when neighborhoods have...

What are some possible problems and how can we address them?

There may be concerns that this policy has the potential to make racial and economic segregation worse, by concentrating low-income residents in certain areas rather than encouraging mixed-income neighborhoods. However, without a community preference policy in place, low-income residents would merely be displaced from their own gentrifying neighborhood into another, similarly poor neighborhood, which would further segregation. By allowing long-term residents to remain in place, community preference keeps community networks intact and provides greater opportunities for new amenities and other positive neighborhood change to benefit existing residents.