New York state can do more to help low-income people find housing as federal funds are going unspent, a report released Thursday by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found. 

An audit by DiNapoli's office, which reviewed the five-year period between 2017 and 2021, found housing officials in the state have not been able to take full advantage of available housing funds in the form of vouchers from the federal government. 

“New York is in the midst of a housing crisis and Homes and Community Renewal’s management of its programs is critical to New York’s efforts to help individuals and families access affordable housing across the state,” DiNapoli said. “This audit found that HCR has not made full use of the federal funds that support vouchers and needs to maximize participation in the programs it oversees. Too many New Yorkers are struggling with housing costs to allow available resources to go unused.”

The audit found the state's voucher usage fell short during the audit period, with many areas in rural and urban communities using less than the 85% available vouchers. 

There is also a disparity between communities in which housing vouchers were released. In Brooklyn over this time period, about 82% of vouchers were distributed compared to 99% in Schuyler County. 

DiNapoli's audit was released as Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers are negotiating a potential housing plan in the state budget. Hochul wants to expand housing by 800,000 available units in the next decade through a cominbation of incentives as well as re-zoning around commuter rail stations. 

Hochul has included the measures in her $227 billion budget plan as lawmakers also seek additional support for low-income renters in the state as well. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Office of Homes and Community Renewal pointed to the distribution of vouchers and added the agency was working to strengthen its efforts. 

“HCR continues to fulfill its commitment to increase utilization of federal Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers within both federal HUD guidelines and our statutory authority, already spending approximately 97% percent of our available funding. In spite of an ongoing housing crisis that is driving up rental costs and limiting available housing supply, HCR has taken a proactive approach that has ensured that utilization rates improved over the last seven consecutive months," the office said in a statement. "HCR has paid out more than $550 million in Housing Assistance Payments this year, and is currently serving over 44,700 households. We are actively working to improve our quality controls and increase our utilization rate even further, and we look forward to working with local and federal partners to better serve the New Yorkers who rely on this critical program.”