A coalition of more than 100 faith-based organizations and clergy groups on Wednesday urged Gov. Kathy Hochul to back measures designed to make it harder to raise rents and evict tenants as well as create a housing access voucher program.
The letter to Hochul from the groups come as the governor this year is pursuing a housing agenda that aims to build 800,000 units of new housing in New York in order to address spiking rents and home values across the state.
"We are writing as a coalition of faith-based leaders and advocates deeply alarmed about New York’s growing housing crisis, which is taking a deep toll on our congregants, our communities, and New York state at large," the groups wrote. "Exacerbated by the uneven recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, rents are spiking in cities across New York, evictions are surging, and homelessness is rising unabated. Deeply rooted racial and economic inequities are only growing worse. We need to restore justice to our housing system to protect the well-being of New Yorkers."
The organizations want Hochul to back a measure that would also make it easier for tenants to purchase a building when it's up for sale and make changes to the Rent Guidelines Board in New York City after a rent increase.
And the clergy groups are calling for the creation of a Social Housing Development Authority, which would be a statewide agency that would be tasked with building affordable housing statewide.
"We believe it’s our moral responsibility to protect New York’s most vulnerable residents," the letter stated. "We firmly believe passing this package of bills will help address the state’s urgent housing crisis. Housing is a fundamental human right, and we need to do all we can to ensure everyone in New York has a safe place to call home."
Hochul's housing push is also facing concerns from local government officials who worry about the proposal that would allow qualifying projects to move forward over local zoning objections.
“The inclusion of local government in decision-making is critical to responsible and sustainable growth and development across each region," said state Sen. Monica Martinez, a Democrat from Long Island. "Working collaboratively with cities and villages to address the affordability crisis and build the sewer infrastructure we need for expanded housing options, will empower local communities and move our state forward in a positive direction."