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Late state budget held up over housing package

A white house has a for sale sign in front of it.
File Photo
A house is for sale in the city of Syracuse. March 22, 2023.

The New York State budget is now nearly two weeks late. and one of the items holding up a deal is a housing package that would build new affordable housing and strengthen tenant protections.

It’s the second year in a row that Governor Kathy Hochul and the state legislature have tried to enact plans that would ease the state’s affordable housing crisis. This year, a scaled back proposal would offer grants to communities who agree to sign a pro-housing pledge. It would also revive a tax break for real estate developers who include affordable housing in their projects.

The biggest sticking point, though, is over tenants’ rights. Progressives in the legislature want to enact a proposal known as Good Cause eviction. It would prevent landlords from evicting tenants without a good reason, and cap rent increases at 3%. Landlord groups are pushing back against the measure, saying it will further depress the long term rental market.

Senate Republican Minority Leader Robert Ortt says the housing proposal does nothing for areas outside of New York City. And he predicts Good Cause Eviction would be a “disaster."

“It is essentially tenancy for life,” Ortt said. “Good cause is nothing more than a direct attack on private property rights in this state.”

Even some democrats in the legislature have been reluctant to vote on Good Cause, and the measure died in the legislature last year.

Meanwhile, tenants’ rights groups fear the measure will be watered down in any final housing agreement.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins earlier in the week said there are a number of moving parts and nothing has been decided yet.

“We want to be able to build and we want to be able to protect tenants,” said Stewart-Cousins, who said there are numerous stakeholders involved and both short and long term consequences to many elements of the package.

“Attaining and achieving that progress is where we really need to land,” the Senate leader said.

Senator Stewart-Cousins says she believes a housing package will come together, but she can’t say when.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment and interviews newsmakers. Karen previously worked for WINS Radio, New York, and has written for numerous publications, including Adirondack Life and the Albany newsweekly Metroland.