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Coalition says Gov. Hochul's housing plan falls short for rural communities

Equipment is lined up along a road near an Onondaga County dairy farm in Fabius.
Matthew Kibby
Farm equipment is lined up along a road near an Onondaga County dairy farm in Fabius.

Advocates for New York’s rural communities say the governor’s new budget proposal unveiled falls short of addressing the availability and affordability of housing in less populated areas.   

Executive Director of the Rural Housing Coalition of New York Michael Borges says this year’s lackluster and disappointing plan focusing mostly on New York City contrasts sharply with last year’s more ambitious and far-sighted approach. Lawmakers shot down that broader plan, partly because it included controversial local mandates.

He says while the coalition doesn’t support mandates, they do support incentives for a more targeted approach to address existing housing.

“We have a good segment of our housing stock that's old, dilapidated, in disrepair and the first order of business is to make sure that we preserve the housing stock that we do have, whether it's owner occupied or rental or mobile homes.”

Borges says more than a quarter of rural housing stock was built before 1940.

Then, he says there are obstacles to building new housing units.

“Do the nonprofit housing organizations, do the local governments have the capacity to even apply for the various grants that are out there?" Borges said. "Infrastructure is always an issue in terms of trying to build housing or anything else. Is there water and sewer, or septic and water, wells to support that. And then lastly, do we have programs at the state level that are targeted specifically to the needs of rural communities.” 

Borges is optimistic that lawmakers will hear their concerns over the next several weeks of budget negotiations and restore the governor’s cuts. 

“I think our total ask is like $60 million for for all the rural communities, the four million people who live in rural New York," Borges said. "It's not a lot. So, pretty much a drop in the bucket when you're talking about a $233 billion budget. So we're hoping the legislature will once again come to our aid.”

The budget deadline is April first.

A Marist poll commissioned by the Rural Housing Coalition found 73 percent of New Yorkers believe addressing the housing crisis is a priority in their community, and 71 percent feel the state doesn’t provide enough funding to tackle the problem.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at