More incentives to build and more community input: Those are the key features local government officials in New York are seeking as the debate over a statewide housing plan is intensifying in the budget negotiations this week.
The leading organizations that represent town, city and village governments in New York on Monday signaled they were supportive of housing provisions backed by state lawmakers in their budget proposals this month as Gov. Kathy Hochul calls for expanding housing by 800,000 units in the coming decade.
The Association of Towns and the New York Conference of Mayors in a joint statement cheered the idea of an incentive-heavy approach that could lead to more funding for infrastructure like water and sewer in order to handle a potential influx in housing.
"Housing growth targets, transitoriented development, and state funding all remain, with the addition of a strong, community driven and incentive-based program in which municipalities throughout the state will be poised to participate," the groups said in the statement. "The Senate and Assembly plans include incentives that are stronger than those offered in other states and create a process to objectively measure the results generated by the incentives. Importantly, the funding provided in the Senate and Assembly proposals reward those municipalities that have been leading the way in achieving housing growth, while enabling more local governments to do the same."
Hochul wants a housing plan to be adopted as part of a state budget due on Saturday in order to reduce costs for renters and first-time buyers while raising supply.
But the proposal has raised questions for local governments when it comes to control over building. Hochul has proposed measures that would allow qualifying projects for housing to move forward over local objections. Republican lawmakers and suburban officials have decried the effort as a way of superseding local zoning.
Meanwhile, progressive advocates have urged Hochul and lawmakers to go further by including provisions meant to aid low-income tenants. That includes make it harder to evict tenants or raise their rents.
"There is no silver bullet solution to the housing crisis," said Sochie Nnaemeka, the state director of the Working Families Party. "But there are proposals currently on the table that would protect tenants from exorbitant rent increases, stem the rising tide of evictions, and end outdated zoning laws that have foreclosed on opportunities for generations of Black, brown, and working class New Yorkers."