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Hochul unveils new housing plan

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(The Center Square) — Gov. Kathy Hochul has rolled out a new $650 million plan for building 800,000 new homes in New York over the next decade to ease a housing crunch she says is hurting the state’s competitiveness.

Hochul signed a slew of executive orders on Tuesday requiring state agencies to identify areas for state-owned lands to create more housing, prioritizing discretionary funds for housing and creating a new portal for tracking housing data.

The move will also allow residential housing projects in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood, halted by the expiration of a developer tax break, to continue with the same tax breaks.

Hochul called the unilateral move an “important first step” to expand New York’s dwindling housing supply and promote economic growth.

“New York’s housing crisis isn’t going away, and I’m committed to doing everything in my power to make New York more affordable and livable for all,” she said in a statement. “But make no mistake: to fully address the scope of this crisis, we need action from the legislature — and I’m committed to continuing our work on housing in the coming months.”

The executive orders come after months of Democratic infighting between Hochul and legislative leaders over her ambitious plans to address New York’s affordable housing crunch.

Hochul’s previous housing plan called for mandates on local governments to build more housing, making hundreds of millions of dollars available through existing programs to boost production and a renewed focus on building more multifamily housing near public transit systems.

But the plan was met with pushback from suburban leaders, who argued it would trample on municipal rights and upend local zoning laws, and legislative leaders stripped the proposal from their versions of the state budget, approved in April. During negotiations, Hochul pushed to include the plan in the final $229 billion budget but failed.

New York state has some of the most restrictive local housing regulations in the nation, which have contributed to a lack of housing affordability, impacted regional economies and increased segregation and inequality, according to a recent report by New York University’s School of Law.

Last year, Hochul pitched a proposal to expand affordable housing options by requiring local governments to allow for at least one accessory dwelling unit in an owner-occupied zoned lot. But she was forced to drop the plan amid similar opposition from suburban lawmakers, who said it would override local authority.

Hochul has noted New York is falling behind New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts, which are building housing faster and hurting the state’s competitiveness.

Labor unions ripped Hochul’s plan to revive the tax breaks for housing developments in Brooklyn, which they argue would weaken labor standards while giving away millions of dollars in tax revenue to wealthy developers.

“We are disappointed in the governor’s decision to side with billionaire real estate developers over the hundreds of thousands of working men and women in the unionized construction industry,” the New York State Iron Workers Association and the Cement and Concrete Workers District Council said in a joint statement.

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