Rachel Fee testified at the State Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Housing, supporting Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Housing Compact, including housing growth targets and Transit-Oriented Development, and related infrastructure and planning funding. She also described support for new and existing tax incentives, the Housing Access Voucher Program and funding to address the rental arrears crisis in affordable housing. She also call for the restoration or increase for important housing programs. You can see the testimony here.

The Housing Compact creates a necessary long-term growth strategy that will complement the historic investment made last year in the new 5-Year Statewide Affordable Housing Plan. We believe the Compact appropriately tackles many of these barriers to building more housing while providing flexibility for localities to meet growth targets, incentivizing affordable housing and supporting our aggressive climate goals through increased density near public transit.

We are happy to see funding from the state to assist communities in meeting the Compact goals by investing in local infrastructure and providing planning assistance with a $250 million Infrastructure Fund and $20 million Planning Fund proposed in the Compact. However, we anticipate the needs will be much greater than what is proposed. We recommend $800 million per year for infrastructure funding and $30 million per year for planning assistance.

We also support a tax incentive to facilitate commercial conversions, however we recommend that the affordability levels at least match the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program given the depth of the affordability crisis.

Looking forward, two major tax incentives to support construction and preservation in NYC have expired – the 421a program and the J-51 program. As replacements for these programs are being considered, we believe any new tax incentive for rental housing construction should be as-of-right, be financially feasible, incentivize affordable housing in high-cost neighborhoods, and complement NYC’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program. A tax incentive for housing preservation should be as-of-right, incentivize investment in the city’s housing stock, especially low-cost housing that does not currently have a regulatory agreement, allow for maintenance of housing quality standards, and encourage sustainability upgrades. We also support affordability plus.

We support extending the deadline for 421a projects already in the pipeline to complete construction to 2030 to ensure that affordable housing promised to communities is delivered.

We urge the Legislature to provide $250 million for the Housing Access Voucher Program (HAVP), which will provide rental assistance to families and individuals who are at risk of or are already experiencing homelessness. The state should also create a $2 billion Tenant Fund for Affordable Housing (TFAH), which would prioritize affordable and public housing to address the arrears crisis.

The state must also maintain strong funding levels for existing HCR programs. As communities look at ways to meet supply goals, we must continue to support the programs that protect homeowners and make affordable housing production and preservation across the state possible. We are looking for:

  • $4 million for Access to Home
  • $36 million for Affordable Housing Corporation (AHC)
  • $40 million for the Homeowner Protection Program
  • $10 million for the Mainstreet Program
  • $20 million for the Small Rental Development Initiative
  • $17.75 million for the Neighborhood Preservation Program
  • $7.75 million for the Rural Preservation Program