This week, the 1-house bills came out of Albany from the Senate and Assembly. The Senate’s IDC and Democratic Conference also released their own budget proposals. NYHC was hopeful that the MOU stalemate would be averted in the budget process as we have endured a year of inaction on what is now $2.5 billion in funding for a 5-year statewide housing plan.
Unfortunately, the Senate maintains the requirement for an MOU in their budget without specifying priorities to funding allocations (although they did issue priorities in the autumn). Another hurdle is the 421-a Tax Abatement program. Governor Cuomo proposed program changes in his Executive Budget reflecting an agreement between the real estate industry and the building trades, which has been criticized for its cost to taxpayers. The Assembly did not adopt the Governor’s desired program changes and the Senate further amended the program to benefit condo developers. The Senate also states their support for a comprehensive statewide multi-year housing program “in conjunction with implementing the Affordable New York Housing Program” or 421a. Lastly, the Assembly has allocated $500 million in desperately needed funds to NYCHA for strategic capital repairs while reducing funding for programs prioritized by the Senate such as CIF and Middle Income Housing and programs important to the Executive such as Multifamily New Construction and Multifamily Preservation.
Given the dire outlook for federal housing resources, this ongoing stalemate in Albany over enacted housing plan funding is disappointing and frustrating. NYHC will be advocating for the policy differences to be discussed in advance of the 3-4 men in a room discussions in the final hours of the session. For Albany lawmakers, here are some reminders that you should do your job and come to agreement on MOU housing funds ASAP:
- AFFORDABILITY CRISIS – More than 1.7 million renter households (or 51% of NY’s total rental households) are rent-burdened. More than 940,000 or 55% of which are severely rent burdened.
- AFFORDABLE HOUSING SHORTAGE – 42% (1,331,354 out of 3,141,094) of NYC renter households are low-income, but less than 38% of NYC recently available units were affordable to them.
- INVEST IN HOUSING NOT SHELTERS – More than 88,000 New Yorkers are homeless across the State ~23,000 children reside in NYC shelters. $41k is the average annual cost of housing a family in a NYC shelter. This money is better spent on affordable housing.
- PLAN FOR GROWING DEMAND FOR SENIOR HOUSING – 29% of those aged 55-to-64 have no retirement savings and no pension, according to the General Accountability Office. 58% of NY senior households (65 years or older) are rent burdened. NYS must plan to build senior housing to accommodate our growing need.
Other budget highlights include:
Senate Proposes Affordable Senior Housing and Services Program Complementing Governor & Assembly Budgets
Senator Betty Little (R-Glens Falls) introduced legislation to amend the Private Housing Finance Law to the Senate Committee Housing, Construction and Community Development. The bill (S5141) establishes the Affordable Senior Housing and Services Program, providing a source of capital for development of affordable senior housing and support for resident service coordinators. The legislation would allocate sixty percent of the program’s funding to projects in urban areas and forty percent to projects in rural areas.
NYHC has been advocating with a coalition of housing and senior organizations for a dedicated senior housing & services program to prepare for our growing senior population. We thank LeadingAge New York for their great work on this legislation.
Senate Proposes $25 Million for New Middle Income Housing Credit
In addition to the State Low Income Housing Credit funded at $8 million, a new tax credit would fund middle income housing affordable to households earning equal to or less than 720% of the federal poverty guidelines.
The Senate makes additional housing-related proposals:
- Creates the tenant rent increase exemption program.
- Creates the New York City tax reform study commission.
- Limits New York City’s ability to raise property levies by more than 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.
- Reclassifies properties held in condominium and cooperative form for assessment purposes as Class 1A properties.
- Increase income limits for the Senior Homeowner Exemption and Disabled Homeowner Exemption programs.
- Requires community notification and community input to the New York City planning commission on the siting of homeless facilities.
- Authorizes New York City Council oversight of the New York City Housing Authority.
- Creates a New York City Housing Authority repair certificate program.
- Allows for preferences and priorities to domestic violence victims for public housing in New York City.
- Allows for preferences to veterans for public housing in New York City.
- Removes exemption for public housing in New York City, and requires licensed professionals are performing mold assessment, abatement, and remediation.
- Creates an independent monitor to oversee projects by the public housing authority in New York City.
Tenant Protection Unit (TPU) Continues to Be Political Hot Potato
Monitoring rent increases, deregulation of rent stabilized apartments and investigation of tenant harassment, the program is supported by the Assembly and defunded by the Senate.
Home Stability Support Proposed By Assembly
The Assembly Budget provides $30 million to establish the Home Stability Support (HSS) program in its first year. The program was proposed by Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) last fall. The funding would be dedicated to provide housing supplements for 14,000 public assistance recipient households who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The Assembly also provides $10 million to be used as advance payment to counties to support HSS.
Assembly Champions Mayor de Blasio’s Mansion Tax and Senior Rental Assistance
Mansion tax is amended to include a 2.5% transfer tax on sales of $2 million and greater in the City of New York. Revenue would be dedicated to a new Elder Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) that would provide rental assistance to 25,000 eligible seniors, including SCRIE recipients, whose household income is less than 80 percent of AMI.
Assembly includes RAD Tenant Protection
The Assembly introduced new language in its budget to provide protections for tenants of projects funded through the Federal Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program.
Foreclosure Prevention Services Find Support in Both Bills
The Assembly’s budget allocates $10 million for foreclosure prevention services to the Department of Law for SFY 2017-2018 and an additional $20 million that will be made available in SFY 2018-19 from the financial settlement funds. The Senate budget makes reference to supporting foreclosure prevention through settlement funds.
New Legislation Can Help First Time Homebuyers
Senator Little (R-Glens Falls) and Assemblyman Ramos (D-Brentwood) introduced companion legislation in the Senate (S4058) and Assembly (A5616) aimed to help New Yorkers become homeowners. NY First Home would establish a savings program to help New Yorkers overcome several homeownership barriers such as affordability, down-payment requirements and high closing costs. The program’s model is similar to the State’s 529 College Savings Program. The legislation would allow New Yorkers to:
- Deposit up to $5,000 ($10,000 for couples) of after-tax dollars annually to a special savings account to go toward a first home purchase.
- Receive a state income tax deduction on the principal investment.
- Realize gains on investments free from state income taxes.
NYHC is encouraged that Governor Cuomo and leaders of the Legislature agree that there is a great need to provide record-level funding for housing. We hope that this shared goal of addressing housing affordability in NY State will allow parties to reach an agreement ASAP.
For more details, see the NYHC comparison chart of linked here for NYS 2018 Budget.