City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, Members Brannan & Krishnan Urge Albany to Deliver Housing Relief in Budget

By 5 Borough Housing Movement | March 23, 2023

Call on Legislature to Lift FAR Cap to Enable Council toUse Zoning Policies to Full Potential

March 23, 2023 – New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, along with Council Members Justin Brannan and Shekar Krishnan, today joined the 5 Borough Housing Movement in calling upon the State to lift the FAR cap, expand commercial conversions, and create an incentive for affordable housing when these transformations take place.

The call comes a week after the Council passed Reso. 503, introduced by Council Member Brannan, which called on Albany to enable the conversion of office space into residential with a rational tax incentive for affordability.

“Confronting our city’s housing crisis requires fresh ideas and bold solutions,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “Converting unused commercial office spaces into residential housing can help increase affordable homes for New Yorkers. I’m proud that the Council passed a resolution supporting our state partners in permitting office conversions and creating smart incentives to realize the development of more housing. We have also supported the state lifting the 12 FAR cap that is an outdated barrier to the City having local control over its own zoning. This will help us equitably increase affordable housing development needed in our city. I urge our state colleagues to support these measures that help New York City to comprehensively address this dire crisis with new opportunities for housing.”

“The FAR cap is a 1960s policy that’s holding 2020s New York City back,” said Council Member Justin Brannan. “The longer we keep the cap in place, the fewer badly needed units we create, which means the worse this housing crisis will get. I urge my colleagues in Albany to lift the cap this year, as part of the budget, so we can usher in modern solutions to 21st Century housing problems.”

“New York is facing an affordable housing crisis. And this crisis requires our government to act in ways that keeps New Yorkers in their homes and ensures that residential segregation does not persist,” said Council Member Shekar Krishnan. “It is time for New York to eliminate laws that have led certain neighborhoods to not contribute their fair share to alleviate this affordability crisis. I urge my partners in Albany to heed this call so our city can deliver the affordable homes New Yorkers need and deserve. Housing is a human right and our government must use all tools necessary to protect that right.

The movement is calling on State lawmakers to address this issue by putting forth policies including:

  • Enabling Office-to-Residential Conversions
    Making sensible changes to State law will allow the large-scale conversion of commercial buildings to residential use. The most likely targets for conversions are older office buildings in Manhattan that are struggling to compete with newer offices due to the impacts of the pandemic.
  • Lifting the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) Cap
    The current 12 FAR cap obstructs affordable housing by limiting the density of new construction in New York City. Lifting the cap will unlock opportunities for conversions, particularly around Manhattan transit hubs.
  • Helping New Conversions to Deliver Affordable Housing
    It is not enough to promote conversions that will deliver market rate housing. Government should provide a tax incentive to encourage converted buildings to include affordable units.

With these policies, the coalition believes future conversions could produce tens of thousands of new homes in Manhattan over the next decade, with a significant portion set aside as permanently affordable.

More information on the 5 Borough Housing Movement can be found at