New York State Governor Kathy Hochul revealed during her State of the State address the plan to combat the housing problem in New York. Governor Hochul said that she intended to see the construction of 800,000 new homes across the state. Her plan includes the building of new homes in suburban areas in New York. This would be accomplished by giving the state the authority to override local laws if municipalities resist the governor’s plans.
Her plan included pushing all municipalities to increase their housing units and allow the building of housing near rail stations.
“The whole objective is so families can stay in New York, kids can raise their own families where they grew up, employers don’t have to worry about whether or not there’s going to be employees in a community because they’ll have a place to live,” Hochul said as she announced the proposed state budget on February 1st.
“There’s a housing crisis, it’s in New York City, it’s in the suburbs, and we need a solution,” she told the media on a different occasion. “And if it isn’t this one, 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 can live.”
Governor Hochul called New York’s current lack of adequate and affordable housing a “failure.” With her proposed plan, she seeks to create enough affordable housing that would allow the state to retain a young, vibrant workforce.
This move is also an effort by the governor to combat New York’s loss of people to other states. During the COVID-19 pandemic, New York City experienced a mass exodus of people as many fled the city in an effort to escape the infection. As COVID-19 pandemic recovery continues, a rise in violence across the city has led to those who stayed to also begin fleeing. Families have begun to move their children out of the city in an effort to keep them safe from violence on the streets and in schools. The rise in the cost of living in the city, as well as the limited space to raise a family when compared to neighboring states, have all contributed to the issue of the loss of New Yorkers, young and old.
Housing advocates see the good in Governor Hochul’s intentions. However, there have been warnings that she will face backlash from the suburban areas she will impose her plans on. “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 100 years,” said Bruce Blakeman, Republican county executive in Nassau County.
This is not the first time Hochul has pushed for housing in the suburbs. Last year, she wanted to legalize apartments on single-family plots, a proposal that was swiftly rejected by suburban politicians. Hochul let it go of the issue, most likely because it was close to election season and polls showed gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin was closing the gap.
Criticism has not only come from Hochul’s political opponents but from Democrats as well. “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. It’s not a winning strategy,” said Laura Curran, the former Democratic Nassau County executive. “I am concerned if this is done in a clumsy way that it will continue to hurt Democrats in the suburbs,” Curran said. “It will be one in the long litany of reasons why people are mad at Democrats right now in New York.”