New York – Housing Justice for All, a statewide coalition representing thousands of tenants and homeless New Yorkers, released the following statement on the New York State budget:
New Yorkers who are living in shelters or on the streets are living in fear of unsafe living conditions, of a deadly pandemic, and of police sweeps. Tenants are living in fear of a sudden rent hike or arbitrary eviction that could push them out of their homes. 92,000 of our neighbors are homeless and millions more cannot afford their rent. Real estate developers are capitalizing on the housing crisis by price-gouging tenants across the State.
In her first State budget, Governor Kathy Hochul had an opportunity to reverse course and deliver for New Yorkers struggling to afford their homes. She could have chosen to stabilize our neighborhoods by passing the historic Housing Access Voucher Program — a first of its kind rental assistance program that would have provided urgently needed permanent housing subsidies to tenants and homeless New Yorkers. Unlike other voucher programs, it would have provided support regardless of immigration status or conviction history. HAVP has wide political support in both houses of the legislature.
Instead, the Governor failed New Yorkers. Rather than forge a path towards housing for all, Governor Kathy Hochul opted to shovel public money to corporate developers and force austerity on the rest of us. She opted to further criminalize poverty, and pushed forward unpopular rollbacks to critical criminal justice reforms. New Yorkers need affordable homes, not jails.
Thanks to the organized tenant movement and the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Carl Heastie, the “Affordable Neighborhoods for New Yorkers/485-w” program was removed from the final budget. This program was simply a cowardly rebrand of New York’s most costly real estate giveaway — 421-a. But when it comes to other priorities for New Yorkers , New York’s broken budget process failed everyone but Governor Hochul and her wealthy donors. The Governor’s veto power over individual budget items gives her dictatorial control over the final budget. She abused this power to override hundreds of elected legislators in the final hours of budget negotiations by gutting housing, childcare, and healthcare programs for the people of New York. Instead of investing in our New York, Hochul chose to give billions of public dollars to corrupt corporate interests, just like Cuomo before her.
There are 6 weeks left in the legislative session and we intend to use them. The tenant movement will continue to fight the selling off of our homes, our neighborhoods and our government to real estate and wealthy donors. The State legislature can show real leadership and work with us for the remainder of the session to ensure that 421-a is killed once and for all when it sunsets in June, and critically, to pass the urgent eviction protections — Good Cause Eviction (S3082/A5573) — that New Yorkers desperately need.