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Hochul says ambitious affordable housing plans will require renewing a developer tax break

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at the groundbreaking for a new affordable housing project in Brooklyn on Dec. 19, 2022.
Don Pollard
Gov. Kathy Hochul's office
Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at the groundbreaking for a new affordable housing project in Brooklyn on Dec. 19, 2022.

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday announced new affordable housing projects in Brooklyn and said she hopes to step up construction of low-cost housing to the rest of the state beginning next year.

The plan, announced for an impoverished neighborhood in East New York, spends $373 million to create 576 affordable homes, a medical clinic and room for retail tenants. It’s part of a plan that will eventually create over 2,400 units and cost $1.2 billion.

But Hochul said her plans for affordable housing are much more ambitious as she begins her first full term as governor in 2023.

“We want to build over 800,000 new units over the next decade,” Hochul said. “Because I believe that affordable housing, beautiful safe housing, is a basic human right. And that right needs to be granted to more New Yorkers than we have right now.”

Hochul, who as a child lived in a Buffalo-area trailer park near the steel mill where her father worked, earlier this year approved a $25 billion, 10-year plan to create 100,000 units. She said she will reveal more details in her State of the State message in January.

She acknowledged there are obstacles to those goals, though. The governor said there are too many zoning regulations that prohibit multifamily housing in suburban areas. Also, the cost of building materials has gone up, and interest rates are rising, dampening construction projects.

And she said the expiration of a tax break earlier this year for real estate developers — who included affordable housing units as part of other construction projects — has brought many new projects to a halt. The provision is known as 421-a, named for a section in the New York real property tax law.

“I believe we’re going to have to get back to a form of incentives,” Hochul said. “This does not happen on its own.”

The 421-a provision was not renewed last June after some state lawmakers objected to it, saying it was too beneficial to wealthy developers at the expense of New York taxpayers.

Hochul said she will work in the new legislative session to craft a replacement to 421-a.

The governor also said New York City has fallen behind other major metropolitan areas in building affordable housing units, and she said that must change.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.