New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ deputy mayor is optimistic about a housing deal coming together this session.

“I think lawmakers and stakeholders from different sectors are moving from a recognition of the problem, to what are the solutions,” Deputy Mayor Maria Torres Springer told Capital Tonight on Tuesday, pointing to the state Senate’s Mitchell-Lama 2.0 proposal, which would create a new public benefit corporation to finance housing construction on state-owned land. 

“I think that’s great,” she said of the proposal. “It’s what we’re doing on the city side.”

The mayor announced during his State of the City address a new initiative called “24 in 24," in which 24 projects on city-owned sites would be developed over the course of the year.

While the state budget is due in less than a week, there is no indication that a housing deal between Gov. Kathy Hochul and top legislative leaders is imminent.

When Capital Tonight asked Torres Springer, who oversees housing for the Adams’ administration, what New York City needs to see in any housing deal, she said a comprehensive package of “common sense tools” to tackle what’s become an enormous problem.

“We have a 1.4% vacancy rate. That is the lowest that it’s been in 50 years,” Torres Springer said.

According to the deputy mayor, on the local level, they are “clearing the zoning that impedes new growth," as well as building and financing affordable housing.

“But we need tools from the state, from lawmakers in Albany, including a new tax incentive to boost rental supply (and) lifting of this artificial cap that really diminishes residential density in too many parts of the city,” she continued. 

Additionally, Torres Springer stated that basement dwelling units need to be legalized, and that any deal also needs to include incentives for office conversions.

Both Gov. Hochul and Mayor Adams have stated that a replacement for the 421a tax abatement for developers is critical, but it’s a tougher sell in the Legislature and among labor groups.

While labor and developers are separately trying to hammer out a new wage deal, there are also possible environmental and affordable housing mandates to consider as part of a newly realized 421a.

Capital Tonight asked Torres Springer if a tax abatement that includes “all of the above” might be too expensive to maintain.

“Well, we have to make sure…that any program that gets passed strikes the right balance,” Torres Springer said.

That includes deeper affordability, good labor standards and evidence that the deal will generate the required number of new affordable housing units.

“If you look at the old [421a] program, and it had its challenges, but it was still responsible for 80% of the new rental units built in our city since 2016,” she said.

Not everyone agrees with that perspective. 

Kevin Elkins, political action director for the New York City District Council of Carpenters, called 421a “a failed policy” when he spoke with Capital Tonight in January.

“It didn’t create good affordable housing. It didn’t create good jobs, and because of that, we’re now dealing with a massive affordability and homelessness crisis,” he said.

Another critical part of any housing deal is the inclusion of what’s being called the principles of good cause eviction (as opposed to the Good Cause Eviction bill).

When asked what the principles of good cause eviction mean to her, Torres Springer simply said that protecting tenants is critical. 

“We’ve done so much already on the city end. The mayor just announced, for example, a new tenant protection cabinet where we are bringing all agencies and resources together so we can address the types of issues from harassment to illegal lock-outs to substandard housing quality that too many renters face,” she said.

At the same time, Torres Springer said the mayor wants to ensure that the needs of small landlords are taken into consideration.

But the broader issue, according to the deputy mayor, is that a housing package gets to the finish line in Albany.

“The most important part is that we don’t end the session without a package,” she said. “If we don’t end up with a package, we won’t bring relief to New Yorkers and I think that really does betray the trust that they’ve put in us to make the types of decisions that move the city forward.”