After months of prodding by housing advocates, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that he had ordered the signing of an agreement on how to spend a $2 billion downpayment on his five-year, $20 billion initiative to create 100,000 units of affordable housing.
The governor’s action on the so-called memorandum of understanding, or MOU, still requires approval by the Assembly and Senate. When the legislative session ended in June, housing groups pushed for the two sides of the Capitol to come together on a deal, and that still hasn’t happened.
The move was hailed as a significant step, however.
“Today’s announcement is a major step forward in New York’s efforts to help and house it’s most vulnerable; we look to all three leaders to come to agreement as soon as possible so that we can begin building this desperately needed housing for our homeless neighbors,” said Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing, which noted the move provided “all but $300 million” needed to build the first 6,000 of the total 20,000 units of supportive housing Cuomo has said he wants to create.
Judi Kende, vice president and New York market leader of Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., said: “With 1.5 million rent-burdened households and 80,000 homeless individuals statewide, it couldn’t be more important to sign the MOU and begin aiding New York’s most vulnerable populations right now.”
“We are glad the Governor is now trying to move the MOU forward. Housing affordability is a concern for 1 in 3 New Yorkers and it is a shame for lawmakers to sit by while $2 billion in enacted funds could be put to good use,” said Rachel Fee of the New York Housing Conference.
One complication is that the MOU is far from the only housing issue on the legislature’s plate; the fate of the 421-a tax exemption is also pending.