NY Building Congress 2023 Policy Priorities Stress Affordable Housing, Infrastructure, Mass Transit

NEW YORK—The New York Building Congress released its 2023 Policy Agenda on Jan. 9, calling on the city, state and federal government to prioritize infrastructure projects and policy initiatives that can address key issues for New Yorkers.

The release of the New York Building Congress’s 2023 priorities was a day before Gov. Kathy Hochul gave her State-of-the-State address to the State Legislature in Albany. The New York Building Congress represents the interests of more than 250,000 skilled workers and professionals.

“There has never been a more critical time to think big on infrastructure and development,” said Carlo A. Scissura, Esq., president and CEO of the New York Building Congress. “We are entering 2023 with billions of dollars in funding available from the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and record-high construction spending and permitting in New York, yet we are facing a dire housing crisis and severely strained infrastructure systems,”

He continued, “Our 2023 Policy Agenda provides a roadmap for our leaders to advance policies that will maximize growth, eliminate unnecessary barriers to development and secure a prosperous future for all New Yorkers. We are eager to work closely with our partners in City Hall, Albany and Washington to get all 

Carlo A. Scissura, Esq. New York Building Congress President & CEO

available funding moving, and ensure our industry can get to work building the city and state that New Yorkers deserve.”

The Building Congress’ key recommendations are designed to spur housing development, increase transit accessibility, protect New Yorkers from the impacts of climate change, foster collaboration between city and state agencies, stimulate job creation, strengthen our economy and more, officials with the organization stated. These include:

Combating the Housing Shortage

  • Affordable housing developments must be allowed as-of-right for any district or municipality that has less than 10% of its housing stock at below-market rent.
  • Dedicated funding should be set aside to facilitate the conversion of underutilized commercial spaces to residential uses.
  • The Building Congress calls on the state to replace the 421a subsidy with an improved financial incentive tool for constructing affordable housing.
  • Prioritize transit-oriented development for zoning decisions to ensure all neighborhoods have access to transit hubs.

Unlocking Funding From the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

  • The Building Congress calls on the federal government to streamline project approvals and the release of IIJA funds.
  • IIJA education and outreach opportunities must be expanded so that more entities can determine funding eligibility.
  • State- and city-level environmental reviews should be expedited for projects eligible for IIJA funding.

Making Improvements To Transit Accessibility

  • Congestion pricing should be implemented as expeditiously as possible to reduce traffic congestion, fund $15 billion in MTA capital improvements in the short term and support the state’s ambitious infrastructure agenda in the long term.
  • Many of New York State’s most heavily trafficked roadways are in dire need of repair and more thoughtful urban planning. The Building Congress advocates for the reimagination of the state’s most critical road and transportation infrastructure, from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to the I-81 viaduct project in Syracuse.
  • The Building Congress will continue to advocate for transportation projects that serve New York’s millions of daily commuters, including the Penn Station redevelopment, the Gateway Program, Second Avenue Subway phases two and three, the Interborough Express (IBX) and a new Outerbridge Crossing.

Preparing for the Impacts Of Climate Change

  • To ensure New York is resilient to the impacts of climate change, the Building Congress calls for progress on the Five Borough Resiliency Plan, the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, planning and design work on the Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed storm surge gates and the Citywide Greenway Master plan.
  • Local Law 97 compliance-based retrofits and decarbonization efforts should be exempt from FAR caps to allow more space for building efficient energy systems and improved insulation.
  • The Building Congress supports a host of climate-related legislation, including a City Council bill that would require 40% of all parking spaces to be able to support electric vehicle charging and a State Senate bill that would establish a property tax abatement and exemption for capital improvements that reduce carbon emissions.

Building Faster and Better

  • To ensure the most efficient use of infrastructure and capital improvement dollars, the Building Congress calls for greater cooperation and collaboration between government entities at the federal, state and city level.
  • Pass the three “City of Yes” proposed Text Amendments—especially Zoning for Housing Opportunity, which eliminates archaic zoning restrictions and reduces minimum parking requirements to allow small-scale housing developments to be built all over the city.
  • The Building Congress calls for reform of the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) and State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) to streamline project approvals and increase efficiency. Furthermore, exemptions from environmental reviews should be made for critical infrastructure, housing, and resiliency projects.
  • Advance and broaden MWBE opportunities and develop policies to ensure meaningful economic prospects for MWBE firms.
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