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Experts sound off on Gov. Kathy Hochul's affordable housing plan

Experts sound off on Gov. Hochul's affordable housing plan
Experts sound off on Gov. Hochul's affordable housing plan 02:11

NEW YORK -- Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a directive Tuesday to create 800,000 new homes across the state in the next 10 years. Some housing experts are optimistic it could work.

As she recounted her own parents' journey from trailer park to house, Hochul acknowledged the dire need for more homes for today's families.

"We know this is a big ask," the governor said during her State of the State Address, "and that's why localities will get help from the state.

In her first year, the governor rolled out $25 billion in funding for 100,000 affordable homes over five years. To bring an additional 800,000 on line, she will loosen local restrictions and punish local leaders when they take too long to approve developments.

"Through zoning, local communities hold enormous power to block growth," Hochul said during her speech.

Home inventory downstate must now grow by 3% every three years, a target that is achievable, according to Valerie White, senior executive director of the New York chapter of nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

"It takes...the coordination of the regulations, the availability of capital," said White. "We have to also be sure that, you know, things are more expeditious. They're going quicker, but they still maintain the level of standard."

Hochul hopes to work with state lawmakers to reassess the now-expired 421A tax incentive for new developments. White hopes the new plan comes with some improvements in diversity.

"Number one, the affordability levels are deeper for incentives for developers, and access to that source will be given to developers of color, and not just a few developers," White said.

In the past decade, the state created more than 1 million jobs, but only built 400,000 homes.

Former New York City Housing commissioner Rafael Cestero heads the 48-year-old Community Preservation Corporation, which has seen its mission change with the landscape.

"Now we're facing a whole different issue in New York City," Cestero said, "which is really a crisis of affordability, driven by a really strong economy."

CPC has financed billions of dollars to build affordable housing in the state, and Cestero eagerly awaits the governor's impact.

"She's already proven that she can execute," Cestero said. "What makes this different is that she is partnering with the New York State Legislature to change how New York thinks about housing. It's not just about more money and more programs. It's about the bigger picture."

"Doing nothing is an abdication of our responsibility to act in times of crisis," Hochul added in her address.

More cranes may grace the skyline, but more families may be able to live among them.

More details of the New York Housing Compact will be announced in the coming months, as the state Legislature gets to work.

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