On housing like everything else, Hochul must focus on winning policy
Ahead of her state budget proposal, Governor Kathy Hochul promised “bold solutions” to tackle New York’s housing problem, only to present plans with major problems of their own.
In response, the legislature introduced its own flawed budget bills.
The impasse may not be resolved by the official April 1 deadline.
The state housing problem is not new. Ideas to fix it have been circulating for years.
Procrastination and indecision have fueled crises of affordability and apartment shortages.
Hochul’s Housing Compact proposes to build 800,000 new units statewide over 10 years.
But the authors of the plan seemed to completely ignore the political stakes.
A main element should be a no-brainer: Renew or replace the 421-a tax abatement for city developers, which the Legislature let die last year because mainstream progressives hate anything resembling “tax relief for the rich.” .
The fact is, the default property tax on new housing is so high that no one will build anything but high-end apartment buildings without interruption.
The “lost” 421-a tax payments were an illusion, because you can’t tax something that isn’t built.
Because it incentivized developers to build low-end units, the 421-a break was responsible for 75% of affordable units added in New York over the past 20 years.
Hochul asked the legislature to temporarily renew him or propose a real replacement now.
The best it’s gotten so far is letting the devs come begging one by one for one-off breaks, probably with new terms.
Even more naive was the plan’s proposal to let the state override local zoning to mandate higher-density housing in suburban communities, towns, and villages.
Naturally, suburban lawmakers from both parties are united against this — and, since the suburbs are the main seesaw zone between Republicans and Democrats, neither party will bite.
Instead, the House and Senate counter-proposals create a $500 million fund that communities can apply for to 1) create a housing plan and then 2) pay for its implementation.
It’s a recipe for more spending that doesn’t do the job, just like all the billions New York has squandered on retail “economic development” boondoggles.
Perhaps worst of all, the hard left is offering support for Hochul’s zoning override idea if it passes the “Good Cause Eviction” bill to impose statewide rent controls – which kill more housing than it hopes to create.
If the government wants to get anything, it will have to choose.
Unless the “good cause” is a devil’s bargain, her best hope is to focus on a 421-a extension for the five years she’s offered.
She’ll have to fight for it, delaying the budget for weeks (as she will also for her other best ideas, on charter schools and a little solution to the law without bail), but she can win while she can. rallying moderate Democrats and most Republicans to stop Democratic supermajorities in the Assembly and state Senate from imposing the left’s vision over its vetoes.
This will force him to build relationships with these moderates, but it’s literally his only way forward.
Start doing smart politics, government, or you’ll soon be just a figurehead.
New York Post