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Lawmakers: Affordable housing law could change suburbs for good

Republican lawmakers and a Democratic gubernatorial candidate are saying Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to increase stock in senior and affordable housing could be a major blow to the suburbs.

The debate concerns what are known as accessory dwelling units (ADUs), extensions to homes that would serve as independent, rented out living spaces under the proposed law, according to Albany Times-Union.

In a news conference on Tuesday, February 8, Assemblyman Michael J. Fitzpatrick said if ADUs are allowed across New York, corporations may buy up family homes and increase the number of absentee landlords.

Advocates for affordable housing argue prevalence of single-family zoning regulations contribute to lack of access to affordable housing, leading to racial divides and disparities worsened by exclusionary loan practices.

Republicans say suburbs are defined by single-family homes and the lifestyle that creates.

“I don’t care who my neighbor is, but I do care that it is a single-family, residential home, because that’s where I chose to live and that’s where I chose to invest my resources,” said Assemblyman Mike Lawler, a Republican from Rockland County.

Historically, decisions around ADUs are made at the local level. U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, a Long Island Democrat running against Hochul, said in a February 1 letter that the proposal would “override the principle of home rule and undermine the bedrock of local government.”