New York Focus, February 7, 2022
“By April 1, it will be out or modified. It will not be this program,” one legislator predicted.
After Governor Kathy Hochul delivered her State of the State address in early January, housing organizers issued a bitter rebuke.
“On housing, Governor Hochul is continuing the worst of Cuomo’s legacy,” said the Housing Justice for All coalition in a statement. The group singled out one policy in particular: the 421-a tax break for real estate developers, which Hochul promised to let expire—only to replace it with a new, substantially similar tax break.
The details of Hochul’s proposed 421-a revamp, unveiled two weeks later in her executive budget, did little to allay criticism. Dubbed the Affordable Neighborhoods for New Yorkers Tax Incentive, or 485-w, it would deepen the program’s affordability requirements and slightly increase wage requirements for construction and building service workers in the largest buildings.
The governor’s proposal has garnered tentative support from Assembly Housing Committee Chair Steve Cymbrowitz, who has said that Hochul “should be commended for coming up with something different.”
But other lawmakers, including key figures in the state Senate, told New York Focus that in coming budget negotiations, they want to go back to the drawing board.
“Nothing less than a wholesale redesign is necessary to transform what is now an annual two billion dollar boondoggle into a program that would actually provide a benefit commensurate with its cost,” said Liz Krueger, chair of the Senate finance committee and number three in the chamber. Such an effort would take time, she said, and should be pursued outside the budget process, with its March 31st deadline.