Top state officials continue to forge ahead with investments to jumpstart construction of more units of affordable housing across the state after Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Legislature failed to reach a consensus this session on the best ways to improve New York's housing supply.
The state will invest $406 million of discretionary income in the budget, Hochul said, to build 800 units of affordable housing in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Suffolk and Westchester counties.
"Opening up more housing, all levels of housing – low income, affordable, mixed use market rate, it doesn't matter; we have such demand for housing in this state," Hochul said Tuesday. "... if we don't provide the availability of all these options - and government has a role to play with the private sector and the community – if we don't do our job there, then that's going to be a reason people leave."
State Homes and Community Renewal will commit $406 million for bonds and tax subsidy programs to develop the projects. It's separate from $650 million the governor declared in a July 18 executive order that will be awarded to "pro-housing" communities to spur development amid the Legislature's inaction.
Hochul initially proposed an ambitious housing compact in her budget at the beginning of the year to construct 800,000 new units over the next decade. It was dismissed by lawmakers who found Hochul's proposal, which had the power to override local zoning rules to force projects as too heavy-handed – especially among more progressive lawmakers seeking greater tenant protections for New Yorkers. They also wanted more funds be directed to maintain deteriorated buildings and increased tax incentives to stimulate construction.
"Change is hard," Hochul said of the legislative stalemate. "It takes time, but I think what's important is that legislators hear from the people who live in these communities. ... People need a safe, affordable place to live. And we have a responsibility. And I'm not going to sit by and let time march on without doing something because this is a crisis."
The $650 million referenced in last month's executive order is derived from discretionary funding in the budget, including the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, NY Forward, the Regional Council Capital Fund and other funds and grants administered by HCR, the state Department of State and Empire State Development. Homes and Community Renewal is developing specific eligibility guidelines for the funding, which has not been allocated to date, according to the governor's office.
Hochul is prioritizing private-sector partnerships to both build new housing and maintain existing or dilapidated structures dilapidated buildings to reignite life into suffering downtowns. State officials will work with housing authorities to identify the best
The additional 800 units, or five projects, will include $120 million in subsidies and $286 million in tax-exempt housing bonds to generate an estimated $553 million in investment, according to the governor's office. The new construction will be built in support of the green energy goals set by the Climate Act, including electrifying and making buildings energy-efficient.
Officials in several state agencies are working to identify abandoned, vacant and other properties that could be transformed into affordable units, the governor said.
"We have some of the steepest housing prices in America," she added.
Hochul, together with state Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas and other state and local officials, also celebrated the completed renovation of New Amsterdam Apartments — a 116-unit senior housing complex in the city of Amsterdam, Montgomery County.
"The $47 million upgrade at New Amsterdam and Stratton Apartments preserves an important senior housing resource for decades to come, and the five new projects announced today will provide almost 800 additional energy-efficient and healthy homes in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester with excellent access to transit, highspeed broadband and thriving neighborhoods," Visnauskas said in a statement. "By protecting and expanding the state's housing supply, we can provide a better future for all New Yorkers.”