Advocates Weigh In on Housing Provisions in New York’s Recently Passed Budget

New York’s fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget passed on May 3, more than one month late, due in part to prolonged negotiations between the governor and legislature over a new housing production plan. During the extended negotiations, NLIHC state partners across the state worked hard to push lawmakers to make meaningful progress in addressing New York’s urgent housing needs and record homelessness  – a growing crisis that was most recently laid bare by the unjust killing of Jordan Neely, an unhoused Black man on a New York City subway. While the final budget includes some new or expanded funding for housing programs closely aligned with NLIHC’s mission, it omits funding for many others for which NLIHC state partners strongly advocated.

Significant new funding, more than $1 billion, was allocated for supportive housing for people with mental illnesses. Additionally, $397 million in new funding was allocated for rental assistance specifically targeting tenants living in subsidized housing who had previously been prohibited from receiving funds from the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance program. New York City will receive $1 billion to provide shelter and other services for newly arriving migrants. Funding was increased for the Rural Housing and Neighborhood Preservation Programs, which grant flexible funds to nonprofit agencies that provide a variety of housing and community development services in low-income communities throughout the state. Governor Hochul also added $100 million for new rent subsidies for public assistance households, regardless of immigration status, bringing the total available to nearly $400 million in appropriation authority approved over several years; however, these funds have not been released to date. Some human service workers received a small cost of living adjustment and the state’s minimum wage will be raised to $16 per hour for upstate communities and $17 per hour for New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County by 2027, with future increases tied to the Consumer Price Index. Small increases were made to several other affordable housing programs.

While housing advocates acknowledge these and other provisions as important components to ensuring housing affordability across the state, they also note several missed opportunities to do so in the budget process. The Housing Access Voucher Program, which would provide rental assistance for low-income New Yorkers experiencing or at-risk of homelessness, was not funded. Nor did Good Cause Eviction legislation pass, which would protect certain tenants from evictions without defined causes as well as protect them from unreasonable rent increases. The New York Housing Compact, Governor Kathy Hochul’s plan to combat exclusionary zoning and increase housing supply across the state, was reportedly dropped during the extended budget negotiations. Advocates were also disappointed that many supportive housing service providers who are facing staffing shortages and experiencing burnout, did not see a wage increase in the budget.

NLIHC state partners across New York played active roles in advocating for transformative housing investments in the FY24 budget. These partners represent a diverse array of affordable housing stakeholders and therefore employed a diverse set of advocacy strategies. They routinely met with lawmakers to underscore the need for more resources and better policies to protect low-income tenants. They held rallies and lifted up the voices of those with lived experience. They distributed research reports showing the effectiveness of certain proposals. They submitted written testimony, created advocacy tools for their network, launched email campaigns, and engaged the media. With the final budget enacted and less than one month left in the legislative session, NLIHC state partners weigh in on the progress made and what remains to be done to ensure housing affordability for New York’s lowest-income renters.

“The Rural Housing Coalition greatly appreciates the efforts of our friends in the state Legislature who obtained increased funding in the state Budget for a number of housing programs serving rural communities,” said Michael J. Borges, executive director for the Rural Housing Coalition of New York. “We also call upon state policymakers to convene a state task force or commission composed of housing and local government stakeholders to develop a housing plan that meets the needs of the whole state.”

“Due to the hard work of the Neighborhood Preservation Companies, the Neighborhood Preservation Program received a historic funding increase,” said Mark Streb, executive director of the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition of New York. “We would like to thank Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie for partnering with these on the ground housing not for profits organizations in recognizing the incredible value they bring to families and neighborhoods across all of New York State. A special shout out goes to Senate Housing Chair Kavanagh and Assembly Housing Chair Rosenthal for fighting for this funding and these organizations. Their leadership was critical for this increase.”

"With soaring rents and record homelessness, leaders in Albany must come to agreement on housing solutions,” said Rachel Fee, executive director of the New York Housing Conference. “They still have a chance to move bills that will help build and preserve affordable housing in NY before session ends.”

“While the final NYS budget agreement funds new supportive housing, existing supportive housing continues to be shortchanged,” says Pascale Leone, executive director of the Supportive Housing Network of New York. “Most egregious, however, is the lack of a meaningful cost of living increase for the essential workers struggling to meet the needs of supportive housing tenants. We will redouble our efforts to educate lawmakers about the challenges facing providers and tenants across New York and advocate for meaningful policy changes and investments, without which the current system is in danger of being unable to continue.”

“Unfortunately, the critical component missing from the agenda in Albany is a robust capital plan to support the development of new, deeply subsidized housing, specifically built for - and affordable to - homeless and extremely low-income individuals and families,” said Shelly Nortz, deputy executive director for policy with the Coalition for the Homeless. “Many of the people whom we serve and represent also have disabilities. They languish for years sleeping in public shelters because affordable, accessible housing is a rarity in New York. Gov. Hochul and the NYS Legislature need to dig deep and actually pay for the housing our community needs because all of the other elements of their debate will otherwise boil down to mere tinkering at the margins of this crisis.”