Governor Hochul’s unique housing opportunity

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Governor Kathy Hochul will have just over a year to prove to New Yorkers that she is best qualified to lead the state out of the pandemic and beyond. She will make that case under challenging circumstances as she drives New York’s recovery from several concurrent crises.

Affordable housing sits at the nexus of several of these challenges including a crippling shortage of available units for low- and middle-income households, a worsening climate change crisis, and a devastating digital divide. It makes sense for the Governor to recognize this unique opportunity to advance an innovative, well capitalized long term housing plan.

The good news is that the New York
State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH) has been working on these
issues for years and is prepared to work alongside Governor Hochul to build a
better New York. By leveraging the experience and expertise of affordable
housing industry professionals, the Hochul administration can materially
improve the lives of residents across the state.

That will start by continuing to address our shortage of affordable housing. In New York City, for example, data shows that the production of new homes lags far beyond population growth. And much of that housing is out of reach to many households: according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, minimum wage workers receive an average of $650 per month, while the average one-bedroom Fair Market Rent rate amounts to more than $1,800 per month. It is time to meaningfully change the status quo.

Successful housing policy is based on
long-term planning and stability. Real estate requires consistent resources –
all parties involved in creating new homes need to know that funding will be
available not just today, but over several years. That is why the last
five-year housing plan was so successful: it created a steady roadmap for the
industry to follow.

Governor Hochul now has an opportunity
to build on past successes and develop a new, innovative long-term plan that can
go beyond prioritizing production and preservation of affordable housing, but
also commits to sustainable construction. Closing this gap is fundamental to
addressing climate change. According to the Urban Green Council, construction and ongoing operations
of buildings account for 40 percent of all energy consumption in the United
States. While innovative models of construction and design that reduce
greenhouse gas emissions do exist, these construction upgrades cost more than
conventional construction.

But the partnerships that produce
affordable housing in New York are well positioned to take advantage of the
additional public and private resources intended to address climate change to
cover these costs.  With an influx of
federal dollars expected to reach New York over the next few months, Governor
Hochul has an opportunity to make a substantial contribution in the ongoing
fight against climate change.

Providing multi-year capital resources over
the long-term will help our State produce more affordable housing for
households in need but we also have the opportunity to make sure that residents
living in those new homes are set up for success in the modern world. The federal
government is providing that opportunity through capital funding in the
infrastructure spending bill for broadband access equity.

A 2019 an American Community survey found that 36 percent of New Yorkers
earning $25,000 or less do not have at-home broadband subscriptions, compared
to just 5 percent of those earning $75,000 or more. In other words, far too
many residents of affordable housing right now do not have access to reliable,
affordable at-home broadband service. NYSAFAH is currently developing a
comprehensive roadmap to close this gap. We look forward to working with the
Governor work to ensure the delivery of high-quality broadband to all New
Yorkers, regardless of income.

We are excited to work alongside
Governor Hochul to address housing affordability, fight climate change and
connect our low-income residents to broadband in their homes and are confident
that she knows firsthand how affordable housing can positively transform New
York.

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