New York State Plans to Build Affordable Housing Without Developers

New York

New York State lawmakers have introduced a bill that would create a new public authority to finance and build affordable housing outside the private market. The bill, sponsored by State Sen. Cordell Cleare and Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, aims to address the state’s housing crisis by creating more social housing units that are permanently affordable, democratically controlled, and socially equitable.

New York

What is social housing?

Social housing is a term that encompasses various forms of housing that are created for the public good rather than for profit. Social housing can include publicly owned rental apartments, limited equity cooperatives, and community land trusts. These models prioritize affordability and community control, and they can accommodate both renters and homeowners.

Social housing is different from subsidized housing, which relies on tax breaks and incentives for private developers to create a limited number of affordable units within market-rate projects. Critics of subsidized housing argue that it fails to produce enough truly affordable housing and that it often leads to displacement, gentrification, and segregation.

Social housing, on the other hand, aims to create mixed-income communities that are integrated and diverse. Social housing also seeks to empower residents to have a say in the management and maintenance of their homes and to foster social cohesion and solidarity among neighbors.

How would the Social Housing Development Authority work?

The bill proposes to create the Social Housing Development Authority (SHDA), a new state-run public authority that would have the power and resources to finance, plan, and build social housing across the state. The SHDA would be funded by an initial $5 billion allocation from the state budget, as well as by issuing bonds and collecting rents from its properties.

The SHDA would have the ability to purchase and improve existing housing in the state to convert it into social housing, as well as to construct and maintain new social housing projects. The SHDA would also partner with local governments, nonprofits, and community organizations to identify and acquire suitable land and buildings for social housing development.

The SHDA would require that at least 25% of the housing it creates is for households earning 30% or less of the local Area Median Income (AMI) and that no more than 30% of its units are occupied by residents earning 100% or more of the local AMI. Residents in SHDA buildings would pay no more than 25% of their gross income toward their housing costs.

The SHDA would also ensure that all of its projects are built with union labor and that they meet high standards of environmental sustainability and accessibility. The SHDA would also promote resident participation and education and support the formation of tenant associations and cooperatives.

Why do supporters of the bill think it is necessary?

Supporters of the bill argue that the state’s current approach to affordable housing, which relies heavily on tax incentives and subsidies to private developers, is inadequate and ineffective. They point to the state’s housing shortage, rising rents, and surging homelessness as evidence of the failure of the market-based system.

They also contend that the state’s existing public housing authority, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which manages over 170,000 units of low-income housing in the city, is underfunded, mismanaged, and plagued by scandals and lawsuits. They claim that the SHDA would be a more transparent, accountable, and efficient entity than the NYCHA and that it would serve a broader range of income levels and geographic areas.

They also believe that the SHDA would create more than just housing but also social benefits and public goods. They argue that social housing would foster more diverse and inclusive communities, reduce inequality and poverty, improve health and education outcomes, stimulate the local economy, and create jobs.

What are the challenges and obstacles facing the bill?

The bill faces several challenges and obstacles, both political and practical. The bill would need to pass both houses of the state legislature and be signed by the governor, who has her own housing agenda and priorities. The bill would also need to secure adequate and sustained funding, which could be difficult in the context of the state’s fiscal constraints and competing demands.

The bill would also need to overcome the opposition and skepticism of various stakeholders, including private developers, landlords, real estate interests, and some local officials, who may see the SHDA as a threat to their profits, property rights, and autonomy. The bill would also need to address the concerns and questions of potential residents, neighbors, and advocates who may have doubts about the feasibility, quality, and desirability of social housing.

The bill would also need to navigate the complex and varied regulatory and legal frameworks that govern housing development in the state, which may pose challenges and barriers to the SHDA’s operations and objectives. The bill would also need to deal with the logistical and technical issues that come with planning and building large-scale housing projects, such as land acquisition, site selection, design, construction, maintenance, and management.

What Are the Next Steps for the Bill?

The bill, which is officially called the Permanently Affordable Social Housing for New Yorkers Act, was introduced in the state legislature on Tuesday, February 6, 2024. The bill is currently in the committee stage, where it will be reviewed and discussed by lawmakers and experts. The bill will need to pass the committee vote before it can move to the floor vote in each house.

The bill’s sponsors and supporters are also planning to hold public hearings, rallies, and events to raise awareness and garner support for the bill. They are also reaching out to various groups and organizations, such as labor unions, tenant associations, community groups, and housing advocates, to build a coalition and a movement around the bill.

The bill’s sponsors and supporters hope that the bill will spark a public debate and a paradigm shift about the role and purpose of housing in the state and that it will inspire more people to demand and fight for social housing as a human right and a public good.

By Andrea Wilson

Andrea Wilson is a talented junior content and news writer at Scope Sweep. With a passion for writing and a dedication to delivering high-quality content, Andrea has quickly established herself as a valuable contributor to the team. Graduating from the prestigious University of Sydney, she brings a strong academic foundation and a keen eye for detail to her work. Andrea's articles cover a wide range of topics, from breaking news to informative features, ensuring that readers are well-informed and engaged. With her ability to research and present information in a clear and concise manner, Andrea Wilson is committed to providing readers with accurate and captivating content. Stay connected and up-to-date with Andrea's compelling articles on Scope Sweep

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