Rachel Fee of the New York Housing Conference calls it a statewide problem: Finding enough space for all 20 million New Yorkers to live affordably. 

Housing advocates are calling for a major investment in affordable housing after the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the problems facing housing insecure New Yorkers. 

"It used to be that affordable housing was a high cost city issue, right? Of course it's expensive in New York City to pay the rent," Fee said. "Now we really see it's a growing issue across the nation and we see it in all corners across the state."

Fee's group is part of a coalition of more than a dozen organizations pushing for a five-year plan to spend more for new, refurbished or converted housing across the state. Homeless New Yorkers could also benefit with housing that pairs them with services meant to keep them housed. 

As many as 91,000 New Yorkers are facing homelessness on a daily basis. 

"Some of it is going to be new construction of affordable rental housing," she said. "Some of it is going to supportive housing, which provides housing plus services."

Housing advocates like Fee are framing the issue as an urgent one facing the state, with a rise in homelessness during the pandemic and the economic dislocation caused by the public health crisis. 

"I think it's underscored the importance of housing — that housing is our health care during this pandemic — and how vulnerable households are really living paycheck to paycheck, month to month," she said. 

The push comes as Gov. Kathy Hochul is preparing an agenda for next year, as well as her first state budget since taking office in August. 

"There's real urgency with this issue," she said, "and we really want the governor to tackle it."