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REPORT: NYS isn’t taking housing crisis seriously enough

New York housing advocates feel the state is not taking the affordable housing crisis seriously.

The recent budget proposal and State of the State address neglected to talk about reducing high rental costs and protecting tenants from unlawful eviction.

A Rand Corporation report noted state policies haven’t taken steps to address systematic barriers and cost drivers limiting housing production.

Cea Weaver, campaign coordinator for Housing Justice For All, sees towns and cities taking steps to solve their affordable housing problems.

“Across the state, tenants are working to opt into rent control in New York City, in Rochester, in Ithaca, in Syracuse,” Weaver outlined. “Other places, Hudson Valley. New Yorkers are opting into rent stabilization so, that’s an important measure that keeps people housed.”

She argued passing good cause eviction protections and creating a housing access voucher program could reduce housing issues. Opposition has come from the real estate industry, which wants to keep things status quo.

While Gov. Kathy Hochul has said people are leaving New York due to a housing shortage, Weaver noted it is due to rising costs. The Fiscal Policy Institute reported on average, savings from lower housing costs are 15 times greater than savings from taxes for former New Yorkers.

Housing affordability is an issue voters across party lines want addressed. Weaver acknowledged despite the inertia in the Legislature to get this done, a lack of political will is the ultimate hurdle.

“I think sometimes in an election year, people make the decision to just keep their head down and do nothing when they really could do something brave,” Weaver asserted. “There’s an assumption that ‘If I don’t move, maybe they won’t see anything, everything will be OK,’ or something like that. It’s annoying. It’s really, really silly.”

It is uncertain how much longer the issue can be put off. Cities across the state are declaring housing emergencies due to high rents and costs. Newburgh declared one in 2023, with Ithaca and Rochester facing similar issues.

A 2021 survey found 77% of Newburgh residents would leave because of high rents since they’re spending more than 30% of their income on housing alone.