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Governor Hochul’s Pro-Housing Community Program

The past few years have been a rocky time for the housing market in the Hudson Valley, to say the least. With this year’s record high interest rates for mortgages and homes still listed at double or triple what they last sold for, the market doesn’t seem to be offering many solutions. While most local municipalities have been slow to respond to the dire need for growth in their communities, this summer ​​Governor Kathy Hochul rolled out the next major initiative of the New York Housing Compact, a plan she introduced last year to incentivize the building of 800,000 new homes in New York over the next decade.

“Many of us in the land use field have anxiously awaited the next move on Governor Hochul’s housing compact,” says John C. Cappello, Esq., a partner at the Walden-based J&G Law who concentrates in land use and municipal law. “We received some indication this summer when the Governor signed Executive Order 30, designed to promote additional housing construction throughout the state.”

According to Cappello, the Executive Order 30 provides incentive to induce local governments to increase and improve the available housing in their communities. “The order creates a process for municipalities to become “pro-housing communities” (PHCs),” says Cappello. “PHCs will receive priority on applications for many important funding programs including the Downtown Revitalization InitiativeThe New York Main Street Program, and Mid-Hudson Momentum Fund, among many others.” These grant programs award tens of millions of dollars in funding to communities each year.

Cappello says that municipalities seeking PHC status must submit an application to the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal which includes a letter of intent, a copy of their zoning law with provisions that provide for and encourage diverse and affordable housing opportunities, and documentation of housing permits issued that demonstrate that their housing stock has increased by 0.33 percent over the past year or 1 percent over the past three years.

“If a municipality is not experiencing such growth, it can adopt a pro-housing resolution that commits them to take positive steps to alleviate the housing crisis,” Cappello says.

After adopting a pro-housing resolution, Cappello says that municipalities can engage in the following activities to strengthen their likelihood of becoming a designated PHC in the future—and make meaningful steps to encourage housing growth in the meantime.

1. Streamlining permitting for multi-family housing, affordable accessory dwelling units, accessible housing, and adopting policies that affirmatively further fair housing.

2. Incorporating regional housing needs into planning decisions.

3. Increasing development capacities for residential uses.

4. Enacting policies that encourage a broad range of housing development.

Residents interested in encouraging development of additional housing in their communities can also attend town board meetings and write letters of support to their town board, supervisor, or mayor.

According to Cappello, one community that appears to be well positioned to be a PHC is the City of Kingston, which adopted a form-based housing code that included priorities for diversified housing types, prices, and locations; introduced mandates and incentives for affordable housing; encourages walkable communities; and legalized accessory dwelling units, neighborhood business, and mixed-use developments.

Kingston also established a Housing Initiatives Department dedicated to supporting housing planning in the city. The department will manage housing-related grants, disposition of city-owned property, support the construction of new housing, develop policies to protect existing residents, and address the connection between housing and sustainability, health, and mobility.

“There is still much work to do, and there are many organizations and individuals out there willing and able to assist the Governor in her laudable efforts, so stay tuned,” says Cappello.

This article appeared in the September 19, 2023 edition of Chronogram Online.

This is not to be considered legal advice.  You should contact an attorney to discuss your specific situation.

John C. Cappello, Partner of J&G, LLP in Monticello, NYJohn C. Cappello is a partner concentrating in land use, environmental and zoning law.  He can be reached at 845-764-9656 and by email.

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