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Assemblyman predicts late state budget plan: Housing compact one of ‘top tier issues’ for Legislature

Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (D-Sag Harbor) predicted Sunday that Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and the State Legislature would be unlikely to produce a 2024 budget by Saturday’s deadline.

“Budget talks, in general, seem stalled,” Mr. Thiele told the Reporter, noting he is “still hoping for a timely budget, but given the current climate, not that optimistic.”

There has been no movement on the split between the governor’s Housing Compact and a counter plan developed by Mr. Thiele and adopted by the Assembly. The so-called “Bold Plan for Affordable Housing” in New York State contains the elements needed to foster affordable housing, he said.

“For me, the governor’s plan is a non-starter,” Mr. Thiele said, adding, “Both sides are dug in with their positions. There’s really nothing substantive to report other than there has been no progress” on the housing issue.

Ms. Hochul’s plan isn’t an affordable housing plan but would only increase housing density, Mr. Thiele said. Without provisions to ensure affordability, the result will provide more luxury housing, increased traffic, negative impact on water quality and other problems plaguing East End communities, he said.

“Affordable housing depends on zoning, infrastructure and the market itself,” the legislator said. Any plan failing to address those issues will fail, he predicted.

The Assembly budget resolution includes Mr. Thiele’s plan to modify Gov. Hochul’s Housing Compact by eliminating mandates and zoning overrides in favor of $500 million in state aid as an incentive to create new housing opportunities.

The Bold Plan would provide a 30% payment to municipalities that submit their own housing growth plans, providing explanations for housing needed in their jurisdictions, Mr. Thiele said.

The remaining 70% payment would be provided if the municipalities meet housing growth targets during a three-year target period that would begin Jan. 1, 2024 with a 24-month grace period for the new residential dwellings to receive the necessary certificates of occupancy.

The target for housing growth would be set at 3% for downstate communities and 1% for other municipalities.

That would be consistent with the Ms. Hochul’s original proposal, the Assemblyman said.

To make housing more affordable for New Yorkers, the Assembly majority would allocate $1.5 billion to assist tenants and homeowners, including:

• $500 million for Foundation For Futures — basic state aid to boost opportunities for housing

• $385 million for Rental Arrears Assistance

• $250 million for Housing Voucher Assistance Program

• $250 million for Homeownership Funds

• $100 million for First Time Homeowner Assistance

Under the Assembly plan, housing growth targets would be calculated with consideration to affordability, rehabilitation of abandoned buildings, transit-oriented development and zoning changes, Mr. Thiele said. “Local governments know their communities the best,” he said. “I commend the governor for recognizing the lack of affordable housing and setting goals to address the crisis,” he said.

But the executive and legislative bodies need to “work collaboratively with our local government partners,” he said. “Incentives, not mandates, are the best approach to make housing more attainable.”