Governor Kathy Hochul will have just over a year to prove to New Yorkers that she is best qualified to lead the state out of the pandemic and beyond. She will make that case under challenging circumstances as she drives New York’s recovery from several concurrent crises.
Affordable housing sits at the nexus of several of these challenges including a crippling shortage of available units for low- and middle-income households, a worsening climate change crisis, and a devastating digital divide. It makes sense for the Governor to recognize this unique opportunity to advance an innovative, well capitalized long term housing plan.
The good news is that the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH) has been working on these issues for years and is prepared to work alongside Governor Hochul to build a better New York. By leveraging the experience and expertise of affordable housing industry professionals, the Hochul administration can materially improve the lives of residents across the state.
That will start by continuing to address our shortage of affordable housing. In New York City, for example, data shows that the production of new homes lags far beyond population growth. And much of that housing is out of reach to many households: according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, minimum wage workers receive an average of $650 per month, while the average one-bedroom Fair Market Rent rate amounts to more than $1,800 per month. It is time to meaningfully change the status quo.
Successful housing policy is based on long-term planning and stability. Real estate requires consistent resources – all parties involved in creating new homes need to know that funding will be available not just today, but over several years. That is why the last five-year housing plan was so successful: it created a steady roadmap for the industry to follow.
Governor Hochul now has an opportunity to build on past successes and develop a new, innovative long-term plan that can go beyond prioritizing production and preservation of affordable housing, but also commits to sustainable construction. Closing this gap is fundamental to addressing climate change. According to the Urban Green Council, construction and ongoing operations of buildings account for 40 percent of all energy consumption in the United States. While innovative models of construction and design that reduce greenhouse gas emissions do exist, these construction upgrades cost more than conventional construction.
But the partnerships that produce affordable housing in New York are well positioned to take advantage of the additional public and private resources intended to address climate change to cover these costs. With an influx of federal dollars expected to reach New York over the next few months, Governor Hochul has an opportunity to make a substantial contribution in the ongoing fight against climate change.
Providing multi-year capital resources over the long-term will help our State produce more affordable housing for households in need but we also have the opportunity to make sure that residents living in those new homes are set up for success in the modern world. The federal government is providing that opportunity through capital funding in the infrastructure spending bill for broadband access equity.
A 2019 an American Community survey found that 36 percent of New Yorkers earning $25,000 or less do not have at-home broadband subscriptions, compared to just 5 percent of those earning $75,000 or more. In other words, far too many residents of affordable housing right now do not have access to reliable, affordable at-home broadband service. NYSAFAH is currently developing a comprehensive roadmap to close this gap. We look forward to working with the Governor work to ensure the delivery of high-quality broadband to all New Yorkers, regardless of income.
We are excited to work alongside Governor Hochul to address housing affordability, fight climate change and connect our low-income residents to broadband in their homes and are confident that she knows firsthand how affordable housing can positively transform New York.