Assembly members will return to Albany next week to pass legislation left unfinished, but housing isn't expected to be on their to-do list after lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul failed to reach an agreement to address the statewide housing crisis.

Hochul on Tuesday said she'll declare executive action in the coming weeks related to housing. She refused to accept the Legislature's housing proposal posed to the Second Floor at the last-minute of scheduled session for the year, which included provisions of Good Cause eviction legislation for New York City to limit rent increases. It would also limit the permitted reasons a property owner could evict a tenant.

Hochul on Tuesday argued half the units in New York City are rent-controlled, and the the state has some of the strongest tenant protections in the country following legislation enacted in 2019.

"I have to focus on, yes protect tenants, but No. 1, I have to build more housing," Hochul said. "We need units built, otherwise, landlords will always be able to charge more because it's a simple matter of supply and demand. And that is something the Legislature didn't quite understand it in a way I hope they will do in the future, and understand if we build more like other cities, it drives the price down. That's all I'm asking for. I think there's still an opportunity."

The disagreement, mired by finger-pointing, stalled any legislative action on housing — pushing a months-long stalemate forced from state budget negotiations to continue indefinitely.

Hochul said her counsel has explored potential executive action related to housing, but provided no details on her potential plan for action. 

"My team has been working since the end of the budget to find ways that we can use authority vested in the governor of the state of New York to start making sure we start building more housing because it is a crisis and we're not finished with this," she said. 

The governor would likely need to declare a related state of emergency and could take action to expedite the process to construct more affordable housing, or direct state funds to expand tax incentives to build or maintain existing units.

Lawmakers' housing plan featured tenant protections and incentives to improve housing supply, including the Housing Access Voucher Program to support homeless people and tenants close to eviction, a proposal to convert vacant New York City commercial buildings into new units and extend the 421a city tax incentive to build more affordable housing.

A bill was never printed for the public to review.

But lawmakers and legislative leaders say they will not accept a housing plan void of tenant protections.

"The fact that 200,000 Black families have had to leave New York City becaue they can't afford the rise in rents — that 's a horrible statement; that's a horrible fact," said Assembly Housing Committee Chair Linda Rosenthal. "That demonstrates the urgency of giving more tenant protections."

Good Cause co-sponsor Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal said more than 1 million New York City tenants lack protection from exorbitant rent increases that remain unregulated.

"I've had constituents call my office literally in tears because their rents have been increased by 30, 40, 50% and more, and they have to move because they can't pay the rent," the senator said Tuesday. "This is price gouging."

But lawmakers agree state officials must take combined action to increase available housing and improved tenant safeguards.

"It's two sides of the same coin," Hoylman-Sigal said. "We want housing protections, and we want increased supply. The governor's right on the supply side, and I support her strongly on that. But you have to look on the other side, which is tenant protections, and we need to do more."

Michael Borges, executive director of the state's Rural Housing Coalition, agrees with Hochul that more units must be constructed to improve the amount of affordable housing in New York, as most of the Legislature's proposals target the city or urban areas.

He says three-quarters of housing in rural upstate communities is owner-occupied, and more state funds must be used to maintain existing units.

"We do have a supply and demand problem," Borges said. "...The whole country has a housing crisis, but we need to have a balanced approach, a comprehensive approach that deals with all of New York, and not just parts of New York."

Borges has urged the governor and legislative leaders to form a housing task force to recommend the best way forward, but Hochul vetoed legislation last year to create an Affordable Housing Commission to conduct that research. It was one of dozens of bills Hochul vetoed last year citing necessary state resources she wanted to be hashed out in the budget. The commission, along with other housing policy, didn't make the cut.

Rafael Cestero, Community Preservation Corporation CEO and the former commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, says the state housing crisis would be best addressed with a mix of the proposed solutions.

"We should start with just doing something," he said.

Cestero agrees tenant protections could be emboldened, but they'll fall flat with insufficient available housing.

"We have to be extremely careful we don't put the burden of affordability onto landlords," Cestero said. "The private industry, private ownership, can't bear the sole burden of affordability. We need the government to recognize that that is not a reasonable approach to solving the housing crisis. I think it's about time we ended this 'tenants are great, landlords are bad,' attitude that we have in New York and that we all come together and recognize ... the only thing that is going to relieve the housing crisis that we have in this state today is more supply, more supply, more supply. That's what's going to solve the problem. And we should be able to find a way to do all of those things together."

Mike Murphy, spokesman for the Senate Democrats, says leaders have continuing conversations about the housing crisis.

"The Legislature was able to come to agreement last week on a historic package of housing legislation that included both tenant protections and the creation of more units," Murphy said. "Unfortunately, the governor had made clear she wouldn't sign this legislation. We have to build new housing while, at the same time, protecting tenants. We look forward to working with the governor and the Assembly to begin to solve this crisis."

Rosenthal said she expects the Legislature will hold public hearings on housing later this year. A date has not been set.