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Lawmakers push for affordable housing on religious land

In a move to address the housing crisis, New York lawmakers and Governor Kathy Hochul are working on legislation that could transform how affordable housing is built. The proposed bill, aimed at easing the construction of affordable housing on lands owned by religious organizations like churches, mosques, and synagogues, is drawing attention as the April 1 state budget deadline approaches.

This legislation would allow these religious institutions to bypass local zoning laws for the development of affordable housing projects. It’s a concept that mirrors actions taken by other states like California and Washington but underscores the unique challenges New York faces due to longstanding building restrictions. The bill intends to streamline the process, exempting these projects from the lengthy and complex Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).

The proposal has garnered support from various quarters, including the New York State Catholic Conference, highlighting the critical need for safe and affordable housing in New York. However, experts caution that while the bill could make it easier to develop affordable housing, significant barriers remain due to the state and city’s regulatory environment. As negotiations continue, the effectiveness of this approach in making a substantial impact on New York’s housing shortage remains to be seen.