BRI News

Welcome Home Westchester’s Reaction Statement to Gov. Hochul’s State of the State Address

January 10, 2023

The Welcome Home Westchester Campaign Joins Other Businesses and Organizations in Reacting to Governor Kathy Hochul’s State of the State Proposal on the New York Housing Compact

Today, Governor Kathy Hochul put forth a bold vision for tackling our housing shortage in our region. It acknowledges a truth at the heart of our housing affordability crisis – that every community in the Greater New York City area played a role in creating this housing shortfall, and so every community needs to do what it can to be a part of the solution.

The Westchester County Housing Needs Assessment found that our county needs to build 11,703 new units of housing just to meet present-day need. A gap that large doesn’t happen by accident. Over the previous decades, the fragmented municipality-by-municipality land use system we built made it too easy to create barriers to housing, create delays for approvals, pass the buck to other neighborhoods or other towns when it came to housing affordability, or fail to update local zoning codes such that we are often trying to squeeze our 21st century needs into a tool designed for a mid-20th century lifestyle. It has simply been too easy for too long to avoid building the housing we need.

These barriers, delays, and capitulations to the loud but not necessarily representative “Not In My Backyard” local voices may have been easy for decision-makers to use, but they are not without cost. That cost has been borne by seniors, millennials, people of color, middle-class families, and others who struggle with rising rents and dwindling affordable home ownership options. It has been borne by those who commute into Westchester for work but cannot afford to live here, communities who are losing out on economic activity and property tax ratables to New Jersey and Connecticut, and employers who want to relocate or grow in our region but are concerned that there are far too few affordable options for their employees. It is also tragically borne by close to 2,000 children, according to the Department of Education, who find themselves homeless in Westchester County on any given night.

The Governor’s New York Compact plan makes it clear that this is a shared problem and requires a shared response. Every community does not need to do the same things to address our housing shortage, but no community should be allowed to do nothing.

The Welcome Home Westchester campaign is encouraged by the Governor’s approach of setting an ambitious goal for new housing while providing state tools in partnership with local communities. This approach includes:

  • A clear target of increasing housing production by 3% for communities like ours in the MTA zone, with homes that are affordable for our workforce and middle-class families such that they will spend no more than 30% of their income on housing costs counting as double.
  • Financial incentives to encourage more communities to adopt housing models that have a proven track record, like transit-oriented developments and accessory dwelling units, while also supporting communities who want to be a part of the solution with funding for infrastructure improvements, including sewer, water, parking, traffic, and school impacts – the very issues most commonly raised during public hearings.
  • Deterrents for denial and delay or other obstructions, including requiring municipalities near train stations to rezone to allow for some infill or density, and a Fast Track Approval process at the state level for applications that have been wrongly obstructed at the local level.
  • A true partnership between local leaders and the state through a new Housing Planning Office, a statewide database on zoning and housing production to promote transparency and relief on some state environmental regulations that have paradoxically been used to make it harder to promote housing near public transportation, promote walkable communities, make it easier to reduce car use and congestion, and allow for new energy efficient and green buildings.

There are many details to come and much fine-tuning to be done, but we believe the basic approach would make a measurable difference towards making it easier to build the housing our communities need.

The bottom line is that we need new housing of all different shapes and sizes for all of our residents. We are ready to roll up our sleeves and work with Governor Hochul, Westchester’s own Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and all of our local leaders on solutions to support those who want to live and work here, support our local economy, raise their families, and join us in calling Westchester County home.

The Welcome Home Westchester campaign

The Building & Realty Institute

Westchester County Association

Nonprofit Westchester

Building & Allied Construction Industries (BACI-NYSBA-NAHB)

Housing Action Council

Hudson Gateway Association of REALTORSÂŽ

Hudson Hill Partners

Kings Capital Construction

Lifting Up Westchester

Regional Plan Association

WBP Development LLC

Westhab, Inc.

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