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EXCLUSIVE: Rural housing funding missing from Hochul’s proposed budget

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 2025 budget proposal is missing key funding priorities for rural housing, according to a coalition advocating for the issue.

The new budget cuts funding for programs to help rural areas address housing needs, including cuts to the Rural Preservation Program used by nonprofits in their communities.

Mike Borges, executive director of the Rural Housing Coalition of New York, feels it is a step backward, compared to last year’s more ambitious budget. He described the types of funding needed to help rural homeowners.

“What we need is capacity-building funding,” Borges explained. “That funding that goes to nonprofit housing organizations so they have the capacity to do the work that’s needed in their communities. We need money for infrastructure. Rural communities lack water and sewer, a lot of them do.”

He added rural areas’ lack of this infrastructure is often a barrier to developing more housing. Borges emphasized he is hopeful as the budget process continues, the Legislature will reverse the cuts suggested by Hochul. A Marist Poll found 31% of rural New Yorkers want state government to increase funding for developing new homes.

Outside factors have also been to blame for the lack of housing being built in rural New York. In particular, high construction costs during the pandemic prevented developers from breaking ground on rural projects, and Borges noted the disinvestment is translating into an exodus from rural communities.

“They see the housing stock declining. They see the population declining. I think that kind of goes hand in hand,” Borges observed. “If people don’t have someplace to live, they’re going to move and relocate elsewhere.”

A Rural Housing Coalition of New York report showed rural counties have seen 50,000 people leave in the last decade. And a 2021 New York State Comptroller report showed 10 rural counties had 5,500 fewer housing units than they did in 2016.