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New bill would require housing plans by all local governments

Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg, D-Ossining, front, and Assemblyman Chris Burdick, at left, fourth from the front, are pictured with staff members during a joint meeting in December. Levenberg and Burdick are working to pass a state requirement for all local municipalities to create a Housing Plan for Everyone.

There wasn’t much support in the state Legislature for Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to increase new housing construction last year.

But a downstate Democrat in the state Assembly is proposing requiring local governments to create a “Housing Action Plan for Everyone” through amendments to several sections of state law. Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg, D-Ossining, recently introduced A.9228 with support from co-sponsor Assemblyman Chris Burdick, D-Mt. Kisko. A companion bill hasn’t been introduced in the state Senate yet.

The idea came from a housing summit Levenberg and Burdick hosted in October.

“This legislation will require all communities to develop a Housing Action Plan for Everyone (HAP-E) to determine what needs to be accomplished to meet their identified housing needs,” Levenberg wrote in her legislative justification. “It could be the villages, towns and cities that are least expected to enact such a plan are the ones that find they would benefit the most from it.

At one time, individuals thought that affordable housing was only for low-income families, but now we realize that even those in the upper-middle income bracket are struggling to find something they too can afford necessitating more robust housing action plans.”

Levenberg wants each city, town and village government to create a housing plan that will eventually increase the amount of available housing throughout the state. The plans would consider infrastructure, available land for new housing construction, opportunities to redevelop underused buildings for housing, income levels, housing costs and at-risk areas and tools and strategies to meet the municipality’s housing needs.

Local governments’ planning boards or similar groups would create the plans to the mayor or town supervisor and respective City Council, town or village board for review and recommendations. Levenberg suggests the plans be created through coordination with local planning associations, non-profits, builders, realtors, housing councils, the

construction industry and community stakeholders.

Each plan shall hold one public hearing within 30 days of completion of the housing plan.

Regional Economic Development offices shall assist municipalities in notifying them of grants and funding options that may be available to implement the Housing Plan for Everyone.

“While the legislation does not mandate a HAP-E be enacted, it does mandate it be completed in good faith,” Levenberg wrote.

Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed a statewide plan to build 800,000 new homes and affordable apartments over 10 years, but state legislators eventually cut the plan from the budget after a nearly month-long stalemate over the 2023-24 spending plan last spring. The plan set growth targets for municipalities throughout the state and would have allowed the state to supersede local zoning ordinances.

The governor included a different housing plan in her 2024 State of the State that includes a $500 million fund to support the construction of housing on state-owned land and reestablishing the 421-a tax abatement program that expired in 2022. The 421-a program gave developers tax breaks if they agreed to create so-called affordable housing in buildings in New York City. Hochul also wants to encourage the conversion of office buildings into housing units in New York City and strengthen the Pro-Housing Communities Program with up to $650 million in state discretionary funding. Dunkirk has already taken the Pro-Housing Communities pledge and Jamestown City Council members are poised to do so as early as the end of the month.

“The obscenely high costs of rent and mortgages are caused by the unconscionable shortage of housing in New York. It’s one of the forces driving people out of our state,” Governor Hochul said. “Let’s be honest with New Yorkers: the only thing that will solve the housing affordability crisis is building hundreds of thousands of homes. New Yorkers are tired of waiting, and so am I,” Hochul said in January.

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