New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) and State Legislative leaders ended the state’s annual legislative session on June 17 with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to build 1,200 units of supportive housing over the next fiscal year. The agreement provides just 7.5% of the funding promised by the governor over the next five years. Affordable housing advocates have called for Mr. Cuomo to make good on his commitment to address the state’s rise in homelessness and housing instability by expanding affordable and supportive housing funding.
Mr. Cuomo announced a commitment in January to build 20,000 new supportive housing units statewide over the next fifteen years as part of his annual State of the State address (see Memo, 1/19). This came shortly after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a commitment to build 15,000 new supportive housing units in the city over the next fifteen years (see Memo, 1/11). The combination of the two promises achieved the target set by the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing, a coalition of some 300 nonprofit organizations that has been working for the past two years toward the goal of long-term commitments to create 35,000 new supportive housing units across New York state.
In April, Mr. Cuomo and leaders of the State Legislature followed up on the 20,000-unit promise by appropriating an unprecedented $1.97 billion in new funding for affordable and supportive housing production that included funding for the first 6,000 supportive housing units but left the details of how to allocate that funding to an MOU to be agreed upon between the governor and State Legislature at a later date. Campaign 4NY/NY Housing advocates pressed throughout the spring for leaders at the state capitol to negotiate an MOU.
The MOU announced in June allocated only $150 million of the $1.97 billion appropriated in the state budget. That funding will help build 1,200 supportive housing units in the first year. The remaining $1.82 billion in housing funding is unallocated and subject to a future MOU. With the State Legislature now adjourned until 2017, there currently is no timeline for a more comprehensive MOU, to the dismay of many New York housing advocates.
The Campaign 4NY/NY Housing issued a statement following the release of the MOU that read, in part, “This single year allocation of $150 million is a far cry from the 6,000 units over five years that was announced during [Gov. Cuomo’s] final budget presentation and certainly not the 20,000 units the Governor promised in January. The Governor’s failure to keep his promise means we will be right back where we started in January of 2014, 2015 and 2016: fighting for money that has already been promised as the homelessness crisis gets worse and worse.” (See the full response at: http://bit.ly/29Gmp3p)
In a survey of developers and housing agencies, the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH) found that 2,935 units of affordable housing currently on the drawing board have been placed in limbo by the inability of the governor and lawmakers to reach a deal on how to allocate the remaining $1.82 billion before the Legislature's session ended.
An eight-member coalition of housing advocates and stakeholders urged state leaders to sign the MOU for the full $1.97 billion. The coalition includes the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, the Community Preservation Corporation, Enterprise Community Partners, LeadingAge New York, LISC New York City, New York Housing Conference, NYSAFAH and the Supportive Housing Network of New York.
In a joint statement, the coalition said: “Our state leaders must recognize the disastrous impacts of their failure to sign the MOU. NYSAFAH’s survey reveals the immediate effect on many low- and middle-income housing developments, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. New York is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, and we need our leaders to release the resources they promised to help working families, the homeless, and seniors living on the brink, struggling homeowners, and communities across the state.”