Five Business Organizations Tell Westchester State Delegation Housing Incentives Alone Will Not Work
John Jordan | March 29, 2023
WHITE PLAINS—The chief executives of five major business organizations in Westchester County, including the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, have jointly sent a letter to the Westchester State Delegation urging them that incentives alone will not solve the housing crisis in Westchester County and therefore lawmakers should enact some key facets of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s “New York Housing Compact” plan.
The letter was signed by: Jana Currier, Interim CEO and COO, Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors; John T. Cooney Jr., Executive Director, Construction Industry Council of Westchester & Hudson Valley, Inc.; Jan Fisher, Executive Director, Nonprofit Westchester; Tim Foley, CEO, Building and Realty Institute of Westchester and the Mid-Hudson Region; and Michael N. Romita, President and CEO, Westchester County Association.
Noting the recently released one-house budget proposals by the Assembly and Senate offer incentives to foster needed housing development and an increase in infrastructure spending as compared to Gov. Hochul’s plan, the business groups noted in the letter: “We have consistently advocated for setting clear housing growth targets (including transit-oriented development) coupled with consequences for not meeting those targets. Incentives alone will not succeed.” Gov. Hochul’s plan sets targets for housing development and consequences for failure to meet those targets.
The letter also cited Westchester’s historic battle with the federal government over fair housing and noted that “even with court appointed supervision, repeated intervention in favor of local projects, and $70 million of additional county spending, it took 15 years to build 750 additional units of housing—far short of the 11,700 units deemed needed by the county’s most recent housing needs assessment.”
The business groups concluded by stating: “Additional support for infrastructure is welcome, as is flexibility for communities to decide how best to meet their housing goals. However, incentives alone (including the withholding of financial support), without clear growth targets coupled with consequences and enforcement for noncompliance, will bring no change in high-income, historically exclusionary suburbs such as Westchester where more housing opportunities are needed most.”
Housing reform is just one of a number of legislative priorities that will be presented to New York State lawmakers by HGAR members at the New York State Association of Realtors’ annual Lobby Day on May 2 in Albany.
HGAR will have two busses to take members to and from Albany. One bus will leave at 5:50 a.m. from outside the HGAR offices at 110 Bloomingdale Rd., White Plains, and will stop at the DeCicco’s Market in Brewster at 6:30 a.m., before arriving in Albany. The other bus will depart at 5:50 a.m. from the former HGAR office in Nyack, located at 2 Medical Park Drive, and will stop at 6:30 a.m. at the rear of the Newburgh Mall, before continuing to Albany. Both busses will depart Albany after lunch to return home.
According to HGAR Director of Government Affairs Alexander Roithmayr, the HGAR Legislative Committee outlined its legislative goals for this year.
HGAR is in Opposition to:
• (S.305-Salazar) HGAR opposes the imposition of a statewide “good cause” eviction standard, which would implement impractical and overly restrictive standards and stifle investment in rental housing.
• (S.2783-Brisport) HGAR opposes the prohibition of landlords and landlords’ agents from collecting broker fees from a tenant.
• (S.2352-Kavanagh) HGAR opposes the requirement on real estate brokers and salespersons to request, compile and disclose personal demographic data on prospective home purchasers, including full name, race, ethnicity and gender, among other information.
• (S.2505-Kavanagh) The New York State Association of Realtors opposes the creation of a statewide residential rental registry and public online searchable database that would require owners of residential rental dwellings, housing two or more families living independently of each other, to register their property annually for a fee to be determined by the Department of State.
• (S.221-Myrie) HGAR opposes the establishment of the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, which would provide tenant organizations the first opportunity to purchase rental properties prior to being put on the market, impose price stabilization provisions on the property for up to 99 years, cap annual rent increases and prohibit the eviction of any TOPA buyer except for “good cause.”
• (S.2353-Kavanagh) HGAR opposes the requirement of property owners to conduct lead paint tests and provide reports of such tests prior to the selling or leasing of a property.
• HGAR opposes regulatory efforts by the Department of State to impose any new cease and desist zone on real estate licensees.
Measures to Expand Access to Homeownership
• HGAR supports enacting a first-time homebuyer savings account program to assist New Yorkers in saving for a first home within the state (bill introduction pending).
• HGAR supports expanding affordable and workforce housing development through the implementation of new zoning and tax incentives and easing restrictions on the conversion of existing commercial spaces into residential housing.
• HGAR supports directing funding in the New York State budget to expand broadband access throughout the state, particularly in rural regions.
Combating Discrimination in Cooperative Housing
• (A.1778-Lavine) (A.2685-Walker) HGAR supports ensuring fairness and transparency in the cooperative housing purchase process by establishing a clear timeline for the response to applicants by co-op boards and requiring a reason for any denial of an application in order to help combat illegal discrimination.
• (S.412-Thomas) HGAR supports a technical amendment to a law passed in 2019 placing restrictions on legitimate telemarketing business services provided by licensed professionals, stipulating the ability to provide telemarketing services during states of emergency.