BALCONY - Business and Labor Coalition of New York
July 5th, 2016

by Glenn Blain

Plans to develop nearly 3,000 units of affordable housing across New York have been put in jeopardy because Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders failed to reach an agreement on how to spend $2 billion they put in the budget this year for new housing, advocates charged.

In a survey of developers and housing agencies, the New York State Association for Affordable Housing found that 2,935 units of affordable housing currently on the drawing board have been placed in limbo by the inability of Cuomo and lawmakers to reach a deal on how to dole out the $2 billion before the Legislature’s session ended last month.

The figure includes 1,360 units planned for the city that are at risk.

“With so many state-funded projects at risk, The real impact is on thousands of low- and middle-income New Yorkers who may never see the new affordable housing they desperately need,” said Association President Jolie Milstein.

The $2 billion that Cuomo and the Legislature placed in New York’s 2016-2017 budget was to be the first installment of a five year, $20 billion plan that the governor unveiled in January to create thousands of new units of affordable and supportive housing.

The allocation, however, did not contain any specifics on how the money was to be spent, leaving it for Cuomo and the leaders of the Senate and Assembly to negotiate a so-called memorandum of understanding at a later date.

In the final hours of the Legislature’s session last month, Cuomo and lawmakers announced plans for only $150 million in new spending, infuriating housing advocates.

“We trust that our state leaders do not want to lose this opportunity to fully address the urgent statewide housing crisis,” Milstein said. “The time is now for Gov. Cuomo, Speaker (Carl) Heastie and Majority Leader (John) Flanagan to sign the $2 billion MOU and ensure that all these developments can move forward.”

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said the governor is still looking to reach an agreement with the Legislature.

“It was Gov. Cuomo who made and secured the unprecedented $20 billion five-year commitment to affordable and homeless housing,” Azzopardi said. “The first $150 million subject to the MOU has been released and we’re eager to reach an agreement on the balance. We urge the legislature to join us in keeping these projects moving and helping to ensure every New Yorkers has a safe, decent and affordable place to call home.?”

Senate and Assembly officials did not respond to requests for comment.

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