The clock is ticking for statewide affordable housing

The clock is ticking for statewide affordable housing

The clock is ticking for statewide affordable housing
May 2, 2016

Last month, $2 billion in new capital for a 100,000-unit statewide affordable housing plan was included in the New York state budget. New York has never had a housing initiative of this magnitude, nor have we had a comprehensive approach to statewide investment in housing. If used effectively, these funds can produce much-needed housing, catalyze community revitalization, create jobs and spur economic growth across the state.

Gov. Cuomo’s housing agency recently laid out priorities for this plan, which include building supportive housing for the homeless, financing middle-income apartments and a new senior housing program. The state also intends to aid preservation of public housing upstate, shore up aging Mitchell-Lama buildings and use housing to revitalize struggling downtowns. A homeownership component of the plan will focus on foreclosure mitigation and manufactured home replacement, continuing the tradition of affordable homeownership opportunities.

The money for this program cannot be spent and a housing plan cannot be implemented until a memorandum of understanding is signed by the governor and leaders of the Assembly and Senate.

While full details of the governor's housing plan have not yet been released, the broad strokes outlined represent a thoughtful use of capital dollars for improving affordability across the state while addressing diverse market needs. The housing plan should also include $100 million toward repairing leaking roofs in NYCHA buildings. Maintaining decent living conditions for the 400,000 New York City residents who live in public housing must be a top priority of any statewide housing plan. Recent bank settlements from Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs could provide extra funding needed to budget for both the governor's housing plan priorities and NYCHA's roofs

We urge Gov. Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Leader John Flanagan to waste no time in agreeing on a housing plan. Every day that passes without an agreement delays financing of desperately needed affordable and supportive housing.

Rachel Fee is the executive director of the New York Housing Conference.

Rachel Fee
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