Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

Hochul’s Approach to New York’s Housing Crisis Faces Stiff Opposition, Others Celebrate

Published: March 6, 2023
New York Governor Kathy Hochul (C) attends a meeting with a bipartisan group of governors in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, during the National Governors Association Winter Meeting, on Feb. 10, 2023. (Image: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

According to New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul, rents in the New York City metro area have soared by 30 percent since 2015 and home prices have risen 50 percent. Outside the Big Apple, rents have risen between 40 and 60 percent since 2015 and home prices are up between 50 and 80 percent during the same time period.

“That means young people can’t afford to start families here, grandparents can’t downsize, and businesses can’t find housing for their workers,” Hochul argues. 

To address the crisis, Hochul unveiled an ambitious plan during her State of the State address earlier this year, dubbed the “New York Housing Compact” that aims to build 800,000 new homes in the state over the next decade.

“New York faces a housing crisis that requires bold actions and an all-hands-on-deck approach,” Hochul said during her address, adding that. “Every community in New York must do their part to encourage housing growth to move our State forward and keep our economy strong. The New York Housing Compact is a comprehensive plan to spur the changes needed to create more housing, meet rising demand, and make our state a more equitable, stable, and affordable place to live.”

The plan is to set statewide housing targets that will “require all cities, towns, and villages to achieve new home creation targets on a three-year cycle,” as well as making available $250 million in an Infrastructure Fund and $20 million in a Planning Fund to support new housing production statewide. 

“After 3 years, in localities that do not meet growth targets or do not take steps to implement Preferred Actions, proposed housing developments that meet particular affordability criteria, but may not conform to existing zoning, may take advantage of a fast-track housing approval process if the locality denies the permit,” Hochul’s plan states adding that, “The appeal can be made to a new State Housing Approval Board or through the courts. Appealed projects will be approved unless a locality can demonstrate a valid health or safety reason for denying the application.”

Stiff opposition

The ambitious plan is not sitting well with several New York communities, and according to POLITICO, “may be radioactive in the bedroom communities that dot the region.”

Bruce Blakeman, the Republican county executive in Nassau County, said in a recent interview, “You would see a suburban uprising, the likes of which you’ve never seen before, if the state tried to impose land-use regulations on communities that have had local control for over a 100 years.”

According to POLITICO, Hochul argues that suburbs have failed to step up and do their part to address the housing crisis which could have a “‘potentially catastrophic’ impact on the state’s ability to compete for jobs and residents.”

Even some Democrats are coming out against the initiative.

Laura Curran, a former Democratic Nassau County executive said, “There’s a lot of resentment when the state or a regional entity tries to come in and tell people how they should make their communities,” POLITICO reported.  

Hochul attempted to implement housing reforms in the past only to abandon the reforms when they were met with immediate opposition from politicians in the suburbs. 

When she was appointed to the Governor’s office in 2021, she sought to legalize apartments on single-family lots, a proposal that was doomed to fail. 

However, according to her State of the State address, Hochul does not appear to be backing down, saying, “We’ve failed so far. No longer is failure an option.”

Republican Lee Zeldin, who won several suburban House seats on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley , that once went Democrat, said in a recent interview, “The idea that you’re just going to micromanage all of that up in Albany is making a lot of New Yorkers in these communities feel like they’re being deliberately targeted because of how last year’s election turned out.”


Hochul’s efforts celebrated by many

Hochul is asking that local political leaders support her Compact saying that she will afford towns and villages flexibility in how they choose to meet her goals.

She says the reason why recent Census data shows New York as having the largest population loss of all states is because of housing unaffordability. 

In a recent interview, RuthAnne Visnauskas, the state housing commissioner argued that “When you talk to people in the Hudson Valley, if you talk to people in Nassau and Suffolk, the number one issue people have is the housing affordability. Part of quality of life is having availability of housing, having choice in where you live.”

“There’s a housing crisis, it’s in New York City, it’s in the suburbs, and we need a solution,” Visnauskas recently told reporters, adding that, “And if it isn’t this one [Compact] then what is it? There has to be some solution to it or else we’re going to get 10 years down the road and New York City and its suburbs are going to be a place where only millionaires and billionaires live.”

Local housing groups are celebrating Hochul’s Compact, who are longing for substantive housing initiatives similar to what is being done in other states.

Andrew Fine, a policy director for the group Open New York, says that the suburbs have “lost credibility” to produce enough housing without a state mandate, POLITICO reported. 

Fine points to the Matinecock Court project in the affluent Huntington neighborhood on Long Island which was first proposed in 1978, but just started development after multiple legal fights.   

“For our region, not being able to provide diverse housing options makes it much more difficult to attract and retain a young vibrant workforce. The lack of housing on Long Island is a dire economic issue,” said Kyle Strober, executive director of the Association for a Better Long Island.

While there is still opposition on Long Island against Hochul’s Compact, State Senator, Kevin Thomas, one of two Democrats representing Long Island, said there is a “great need for housing out in the suburbs” however, added in a recent interview that “Out on Long Island, we pride ourselves on our autonomous villages and towns So, to say, ‘Hey, the state should come in and override what they want,’ is a bit problematic.”