Yesterday, Albany lawmakers passed a $177 billion budget, contending with short term liquidity problems and the other serious economic consequences of COVID-19. Below are housing highlights in the FY2021 enacted budget. For our summary of the new Prevailing Wage requirements, and our concerns regarding a new Public Subsidy Board, click here.
The enacted capital budget for Homes & Community Renewal appropriated new funds as per the Governor Cuomo’s executive budget priorities. Funding levels are similar to FY2020 allocations. In addition, $3 billion was reappropriated from previous years, though it is unclear exactly what remains to be spent out of this amount. We expect to know more following HCR’s annual report to the Legislature.
The budget granted new powers allowing the budget director to reduce appropriations during the year to maintain a balanced budget, and so some of this funding could be at risk.
Reserves in the project pool insurance account of the Mortgage Insurance Fund (MIF) have been a consistent source of funding for housing programs. Some years this account is a significant addition to HCR’s capital programs but other years its contribution is less. This year, the MIF funded more than $103 million worth of programs while still allowing sufficient funding to attain and maintain the credit rating State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA). In addition to funding the Neighborhood Preservation Program, the Rural Preservation Program and the Rural Rental Assistance Program, the MIF also funds the following programs:
- Supportive Housing Services and Homeless Prevention- $42.6 million
- Homeowner Protection Program- $10 million
- City of Albany Fiscal Relief- $12 million
In advance of the Executive Budget, we set priorities and called for a codification of a housing capital planning process to ensure steady funding and a development pipeline, as this is the final funding year of the statewide affordable housing plan. We are disappointed that this measure was not adopted.
We’re grateful that the state increased funding for HHAP to $128 million (funded through the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance). The Homeowner Protection Program, funded with $10 million this year, is another extremely relevant program that will be critically needed this year providing legal and technical support for homeowners at risk of foreclosure.
While we understand that this is a very difficult fiscal environment, there were some critical programs that we think are necessary but were left unfunded in the budget. Public housing preservation was one of our top priorities so we were disappointed that NYCHA received no funding but instead new prevailing wage requirements and Section 3 requirements were added to previously appropriated funds. While emphasizing Section 3 work opportunities is important, it is already mandated by the federal government.
We were also hoping that the new Source of Income Law enacted last year in the budget would receive enforcement funding this year and are disappointed that it was left out. Critical funding for Senior Housing Resident Assistance, staffing that is needed now more than ever, was also left out.
Finally, rental assistance aid was also left out of the budget. Given the widespread loss of income following the coronavirus health crisis that is affecting homeowners and renters alike this support will be critically important and we hope the state will take this up in the near future. These are challenging times. We are working through a health crisis and are facing widespread loss of income and housing insecurity. Even while COVID-19 derailed our advocacy, we know that moving forward preserving and expanding our affordable housing stock will be more important than ever.