Ortt challenges Hochul's housing plan

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Apr. 23—Gov. Kathy Hochul's office is touting moves to address the statewide housing crisis authorized in the newly approved New York State 2024-2025 budget.

Hochul said the "historic" housing deal would increase the housing supply and protect renters via the establishment of new tax incentives to construct affordable housing. It would also direct state money to "pro-housing communities," spur new home construction on state land and offer new protections for homeowners and renters.

New housing construction outside New York City will be spurred in local municipalities that adopt "incentives ... for both mixed-income and 100% affordable housing," Hochul said.

State Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, thinks the incentives won't appeal to many upstate municipalities, particularly in Western New York.

The newly created "421-p" tax incentive is meant to spur housing construction, both rental and owner-occupied housing, outside New York City, but Ortt said that along with the tax credit for developers come "radical" conditions for small-scale rental property owners, including "Good Cause" restrictions on eviction.

"Provided you've paid the rent the entire time of your lease, the lease automatically renews. A landlord or property owner would not be able to evict you, even if you were a problem tenant," Ortt said.

Other regulations come into play in communities that adopt the incentives. Ortt said rent increases would be restricted to 10%, so landlords would be less likely to put money into their property knowing they can't recover the investment through rental income.

More of the same is on the way in the future, Ortt predicted.

"(Progressives) will continue to push and try to make this a mandatory program across the state of New York," he said.

In her Monday statement on the issue, Hochul declared she was proud of what was accomplished. The housing agreement is said to be one of the sticking points that held up voting on the state budget for almost three weeks past the April 1 due date.

"I promised New Yorkers that we'd tackle the housing affordability — and in this budget, we got it done," she said. "As the first governor in half a century to put housing front and center, I will keep fighting to make our state more affordable and more livable and help every family achieve their New York dream."

Ortt doubts that will happen.

"I don't think this solution will bring an end to the housing crisis or challenge, certainly not in Western New York, and I doubt it'll show an effect in (New York City) except that the Good Cause eviction will show immediately," Ortt said. "It is at best a New York City-centered solution."