Hochul confirms she won’t pursue suburban housing mandates in ‘an election year’

The Democratic New York governor is leading efforts to regain suburban House seats that flipped in 2022.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s housing plan will look different this year.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s housing plan will look different this year. Don Pollard / Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul confirmed Thursday she is abandoning proposed construction mandates in part due to the upcoming election cycle, a departure from her failed housing plan during the 2023 session. 

“I’ll work with (the Legislature), but I also have so many priorities, I’m not going to head down the same path we did last year with the exact same plan, in a year that is an election year for members,” Hochul said after a student mental health announcement at Leadership and Public Service High School in Manhattan. “They have a different focus and priorities, and I’m going to make sure we get there. Will it be in 10 years? Hopefully, I’ll be around long enough to make sure we do.”

City & State first reported Wednesday that Hochul abandoned the key part of her “New York Housing Compact” plan to use housing mandates to build 800,000 new homes in the state in the next decade. Lawmakers opposed the plan last session on several points including the threat of overriding local zoning codes, and the plan failed to gain traction.

Next year, New York Democrats will attempt to flip several key swing House districts, primarily on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley, that they lost after a disappointing showing in the 2022 midterm elections. Hochul, along with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, are leading an effort to coordinate across the state to win those seats back. While housing need is great in those regions, so is the desire for local control of zoning and development. 

Should controversy emerge as a result of a second attempt at large-scale housing legislation, it may impact showings in races targeted by the state Democrats, which will already be highly contested and costly. 

Hochul also identified that she didn’t have the support of lawmakers. Conversely, lawmakers found they weren’t able to find a compromise with Hochul over housing initiatives like ”good cause” eviction and housing vouchers. All agreed that there was a housing crisis. 

“At the end of session, it became apparent to me there was no interest in what I was proposing, which was bold, it was ambitious, we knew that from the start,” Hochul said. 

“What people will learn about me is that I’m not afraid of a good fight if there's a worthy cause behind it, and that means that I will take on the fact that 73% of New Yorkers think that housing is too high, I’ll take on the fact that people are leaving our state because they can find lower cost housing in places like Florida and Texas but also cold weather places that have the same tax structure as we do like Connecticut and New Jersey. 

“Why? Because those states built more housing and housing is more affordable. I recognize that, I’m trying to persuade others. It’s been a longer journey than I’d like, but I'm on that journey. I started that conversation last January. In the scheme of states like California that have made success in this area, it took them decades.”