Op-Ed | Scoring a goal for affordable housing

Mayor Eric Adams.
Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

In November 2022, our administration announced a historic once-in-a-generation transformation of the Willets Points neighborhood in Queens. This neighborhood, which was once called the “Valley of Ashes” and known for its junkyards, is now being transformed into a vibrant neighborhood with 2,500 new all-affordable homes — the largest all-affordable housing project in the city over the last 40 years — a  new school, 150,000 square feet of new open public space, retail space, a hotel, and the city’s first-ever soccer-specific stadium that will be home to, and privately financed by, the New York City Football Club.

With the City Council’s vote to approve phase 2 of the development, we are one major step closer to victory for all New Yorkers. The Willets Point project represents the future of our city, a future in which all New Yorkers can afford to live in a safe apartment that is close to a good school, good-paying jobs, outdoor space, and great public transportation.

When we came into office two years ago, we had a mission: to protect public safety, rebuild our economy, and make this city more livable for hardworking New Yorkers. Building more affordable housing in every neighborhood across all five boroughs is the cornerstone to livability and prosperity. I know this from personal experience.

Growing up on the edge of homelessness, my siblings and I had to take trash bags full of clothes to school because we didn’t know where we would sleep the next night. No child should have to feel that way. You cannot plan for the future if you are worried about today.

Construction for the first phase of housing at Willets is already underway — a year ahead of schedule. The first 880 affordable homes are expected to be completed by the end of 2026. The next phase will include the remaining 1,400 homes, with 220 affordable homes set aside for low-income seniors. Our new homes will have in-building laundry, bike storage, a landscaped inner courtyard, and more, as well as LEED Gold certification and all-electric Local Law 97 compliance.  We expect Willets Point to generate $6.1 billion in economic impact as it creates 1,550 permanent jobs and 14,200 construction jobs.

Our new soccer stadium will be the first fully electric stadium in Major League Soccer and the first fully electric professional sports stadium in New York City. And it is expected to be ready to open its doors and welcome soccer fans by the 2027 MLS Season. This, along with New York City co-hosting the World Cup in 2026 with New Jersey, puts us on the map as a world-class soccer destination.

It also makes Willets Point the city’s premier sports hub, with the New York Mets’ Citi Field and U.S. Tennis Association’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which hosts the U.S. Open, both within walking distance of the Mets-Willets Point subway and Long Island Rail Road station.

None of this could have happened without our partners on the City Council, including Councilmember Francisco Moya and Speaker Adrienne Adams, as well as Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, the New York City Football Club, Queens Development Group, and all the hard-working New Yorkers who made Willets Point possible.

This project will also advance our ongoing work to build our way out of our city’s housing and affordability crisis, including our historic “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity” proposal to build a little more housing in every neighborhood. And it will get us closer to our moonshot goal of 500,000 affordable homes over the next decade.

Safe and affordable housing is the key to the American Dream. Willets Point brings us one big step closer to making that dream a reality for New Yorkers.