On May 3 Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his ten-year Housing New York plan. It follows in the tradition of the housing plans that preceded it: broad in scope, ambitious in goals. Indeed, in her keynote speech at CHPC’s annual luncheon the prior week, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen drew on the great housing reforms of New York City’s going back to the early 20th Century.

With that historical perspective in mind, we dive into our archives to find the 1985 State of the City speech in which Mayor Ed Koch announced his own housing initiatives. It was the first collection of proposals to be dubbed a unitary housing plan, now famous as the Koch Ten-Year Plan for Housing.

The original speech detailed a five-year vision of a “comprehensive program to stimulate housing construction and rehabilitation.” Koch acknowledged that any plan would fail if it relied only on public financial assistance: “If any real dent is going to be made in the housing crisis, it will clearly require the partnership of both government and the private sector.”

The Koch plan focused on three main pillars for improving the city’s housing situation:

  • Revising zoning regulations to “eliminate those impediments” to new construction;
  • Increasing tax incentives to “stimulate development in marginal neighborhoods;” and
  • Reducing construction costs through regulatory reform.

Koch’s speech detailed several financing mechanisms through innovative public means, some of which required the approval of the State legislature and others that did not. It discussed the rehabilitation of in rem housing stock, which “must be improved while in the City’s hands if they are to remain a sound low-income housing resource.” And it stressed the importance of building permanent housing for the population at risk of homelessness.

The plan is widely hailed as a crowning achievement of the Koch administration. You can read the announcement in full here.