ANHD Statement on State Housing Budget: Prioritizing Market Interests Over Homelessness and Affordability

April 23, 2024

As we continue to face record homelessness, increasing evictions, skyrocketing rents and increasing costs, our state government has failed to invest in programs and services to help those most impacted by housing instability and sustain deeply affordable housing, instead choosing to focus on market-rate developers’ and landlords’ priorities.

With 150,000 homeless New Yorkers in NYC shelters alone and 175,000 active eviction cases statewide, the failure to include the Housing Access Voucher Program from the state housing budget is inexcusable. HAVP is supported by the full political spectrum, from grassroots organizations to real estate lobbyists. Over 700,000 households in New York City need apartments that rent for $1,100, and only 2,300 are available. Vouchers are the missing link to bridge the gap between astronomical New York rents and the actual income our neighbors are making. HAVP is a common sense tool to help move New Yorkers out of shelters and into permanent housing. Our elected officials’ exclusion of HAVP from this year’s budget amounts to a statement that housing the homeless isn’t worth it to them.

We are likewise deeply disappointed that the budget excludes supporting mission-driven nonprofit developers to sustain and maintain their buildings. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, ANHD’s Community Development Corporation (CDC) members have been ringing the alarm about the impact of rent arrears as an obstacle to maintain and hold onto their buildings. ERAP and LRAP largely deprioritized income-restricted housing, which resulted in many of our members not receiving enough rental relief to adequately meet the needs for their typical operations. If we don’t address this issue, we are at risk of losing the most affordable housing stock in NYC and thousands of tenants at risk of losing their homes. Unfortunately, the state budget allocates no new resources for the preservation of 100% affordable housing.

ANHD thanks the Senate and Assembly for their ongoing support and funding of the Displacement Alert Project (DAP). DAP Portal allows elected officials, community organizations, and local stakeholders to understand where tenants and small homeowners are at the greatest risk of displacement and intervene with strategies to stop displacement. The Legislature’s support allowed 27,000 users to visit DAP Portal in the last year. Support for this innovative data tool will be all the more critical in the years ahead as we make improvements to better serve our community of users.

Meanwhile, the legislature did bring back the real estate friendly 421a tax abatement, now called 485x. 421a was not an affordable housing program, and 485x is no different. Buildings with only 25% of units affordable at 80% AMI (a household income of $101,680 for a 3 person family) will not meet the housing needs of most New Yorkers. Instead, public resources will pour into the pockets of big real estate developers building mostly luxury housing while the affordability and homelessness crises continue. We must focus funding on solutions that preserve deeply affordable housing, create affordable housing for the lowest-income New Yorkers who need it most, and stabilize rents helping more tenants remain in their homes.

ANHD is alarmed by the changes to IAIs in the budget. Before 2019, IAIs were a massive driver of tenant harassment and fraudulent rent increases. And now our state government has caved to landlord pressure to re-expand this loophole, to the detriment of thousands of rent-stabilized tenants, and the long-term affordability of our housing stock. The baseline for costs that landlords can pass on to tenants for individual apartment repairs has been doubled to $30k, and, even more alarmingly, to $50k upon vacancy of a longtime tenant. We know from experience that when vacancy means higher profits, many landlords turn to harassment to displace longtime tenants and reap those benefits. With their changes to IAIs, Albany has painted a target on the backs of rent-stabilized tenants, and especially older tenants who are more likely to have lived in their homes for longer. While we were able to incorporate language prohibiting these pass-alongs in buildings with recent findings of harassment, the burden is still on tenants to fight in court to win a legal judgment that would apply.

We are glad that the state budget includes language that prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against affordable housing and tenant source of income in their policies. Insurance companies are using tenants’ income or source of income to deny or hike premiums. This is unacceptable discrimination and amounts to modern-day redlining. However, we need measures to address the skyrocketing costs of insurance premiums in general so that our non-profit mission-driven developers can continue to operate and house low-income tenants.

We also note that for the first time, the state budget included a pilot program to improve the safety of basement and cellar apartments for vulnerable tenants and homeowners. ANHD members have been advocating for years through the Basement Apartments Safe for Everyone (BASE) Coalition. This is an important step in the right direction, although the program’s impact will be limited to 15 Community Districts. We hope to see the basement legalization expanded to all districts to help small homeowners and their tenants stay in their homes.

While Good Cause Eviction has been touted in the press as the “tenant win” that makes this housing package a “compromise,” the version that passed excludes hundreds of thousands of tenants, and has criteria that are difficult to understand let alone enforce, which will make it difficult for many tenants to use the protection

While we appreciate the efforts of those legislators who fought to prevent additional HSTPA rollbacks, and fought for real affordable housing and the needs of homeless and cost-burdened New Yorkers, this housing package is ultimately one that primarily benefits market-rate developers and landlords over the interests of most New Yorkers. We must do better and we hope to work with our legislators and allies to ensure next year we have a housing package that prioritizes deep affordability, strong tenant protections and sustains our most vulnerable housing stock.

Sign up Form