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Working Papers

New York City’s Ten Year Capital Plan for Housing

Working paper #459
Richard T. Roberts, Jerry J. Salama and Michael H. Schill

During the Ten Year Capital Plan for housing, begun in 1985 and now lasting beyond fifteen years, New York City has spent more than $5.1 billion to build or rehabilitate more than 180,000 housing units. A variety of strategies were adopted. To achieve the required levels of production and diversity, the city took advantage of the resources and capacity of the private sector. Private mortgage capital played a pivotal role. Many leading financial institutions made the construction and permanent loans for the city’s gap-financing method. One of the greatest innovations of the Ten Year Capital Plan was that it married the twin objectives of housing production and neighborhood revitalization. Budgets did not typically include incentives for cost-saving, with the result that hard costs exceeded $100,000 per unit rather than the $60,000 to $65,000 per unit typical at that time. High union wages and restrictive work rules added thousands of dollars in useless requirements and lost productivity. According to one set of estimates, the cost to construct a mid-rise building in New York City was 4 percent higher than in Los Angeles, 10 percent higher than in Chicago, and 22 percent higher than in Dallas.

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