Public Hearing - January 31, 2022

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 2  ------------------------------------------------------


 4             In the Matter of the
            2022-2023 EXECUTIVE BUDGET
 5                  ON HOUSING
 6  ------------------------------------------------------

 7                              Virtual Hearing
                               Conducted Online via Zoom
                               January 31, 2022
 9                             4:06 p.m.  
             Senator Liz Krueger
12           Chair, Senate Finance Committee
13           Assemblywoman Helene E. Weinstein
             Chair, Assembly Ways & Means Committee
             Senator Thomas F. O'Mara
16           Senate Finance Committee (RM)
17           Assemblyman Edward P. Ra 
             Assembly Ways & Means Committee (RM)
             Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz
19           Chair, Assembly Housing Committee
20           Senator Brian Kavanagh
             Chair, Senate Housing Committee
             Assemblyman Harvey Epstein 
             Senator Pete Harckham
              Assemblyman Michael J. Fitzpatrick


 1  2022-2023 Executive Budget
 2  1-31-22
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
 4            Assemblyman Colin Schmitt
 5            Senator Brad Hoylman
 6            Senator Julia Salazar
 7            Senator John Liu
 8            Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou
 9            Senator Robert Jackson
10            Senator Diane J. Savino
11            Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal
12            Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman
13            Senator Pamela Helming
14            Assemblywoman Chantel Jackson
15            Senator James Tedisco
16            Assemblyman Harry B. Bronson
17            Senator Zellnor Myrie
18            Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner
19            Assemblywoman Dr. Anna R. Kelles
20            Assemblyman Jonathan Rivera
21            Assemblywoman Latrice Walker
22            Assemblyman Mike Lawler
23            Senator Jabari Brisport
24            Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn


 1  2022-2023 Executive Budget
 2  1-31-22
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
 4            Assemblyman Demond Meeks
 5            Assemblyman Chris Burdick
 6            Senator John W. Mannion
 7            Assemblywoman Rebecca A. Seawright
 8            Senator Phil Boyle
 9            Assemblywoman Maritza Davila














 1  2022-2023 Executive Budget
 2  1-31-22
 3                     LIST OF SPEAKERS
 4                                       STATEMENT   QUESTIONS
 5  RuthAnne Visnauskas
    Commissioner & CEO
 6  New York State Homes and 
     Community Renewal                       10           18
    Barika Williams 
 8  Executive Director
    Association for Neighborhood
 9   and Housing Development (ANHD)
10  Erin Burns-Maine
    Chief of Staff and 
11   VP of Policy
    Community Preservation Corporation
12       -and-
    Rachel Fee
13  Executive Director
    New York Housing Conference
14       -and-
    Mary Robinson
15  CEO
    Habitat for Humanity of NYS
16       -and-
    Baaba Halm
17  VP and NY Market Leader
    Enterprise Community Partners           146         165







 1  2022-2023 Executive Budget
 2  1-31-22
 3                     LIST OF SPEAKERS, Cont.  
 4                                       STATEMENT   QUESTIONS
 5  Fannie Lou Diane
    Member Leader
 6  Neighbors Together
 7  Karen Blondel
 8  Red Hook West Tenant Association
 9  Kassi Keith
11  Pablo Estupiñan 
12  Community Action for Safe
     Apartments (CASA)                        181       198
    Christie Peale
14  CEO/Executive Director
    Center for NYC Neighborhoods
15       -and-
    Jay Flemma
16  Senior Foreclosure 
     Defense Attorney
17  Legal Aid Society of
     Mid-New York
18       -and-
    Jeremy Bunyaner
19  Staff Attorney
    CAMBA Legal Services
20       -and-
    Malika Conner
21  Director of Organizing
    Right to Counsel Coalition               215        230


 1  2022-2023 Executive Budget
 2  1-31-22
 3                     LIST OF SPEAKERS, Cont.  
 4                                       STATEMENT   QUESTIONS
 5  Michael Borges
    Executive Director
 6  Rural Housing Coalition
     of New York
 7       -and-
    Blair W. Sebastian 
 8  Director 
    New York State Rural Advocates
 9     -and-
    Athena Bernkopf
10  Project Director
    East Harlem/El Barrio 
11   Community Land Trust
12  Elise Goldin
    Campaign Organizer
13  New Economy Project
    New York City Community 
14   Land Initiative
15  Mark Streb
    Executive Director
16  Neighborhood Preservation
     Coalition of NYS                      
17       -and-
    Joseph Condon
18  General Counsel
    Community Housing 
19   Improvement Program                     241       263






 1  2022-2023 Executive Budget
 2  1-31-22
 3                     LIST OF SPEAKERS, Cont.  
 4                                       STATEMENT   QUESTIONS
 5  Ben Anderson
    Director of Economic Mobility
 6   and Health Policy
    Children's Defense Fund-New York
 7       -and-
    Sonal Jessel
 8  Director of Policy
    Lead Free Kids New York
 9       -and-
    Paul Webster
10  Director of Programs
    Clean and Healthy New York               279       290
    Elaine Gross
12  President
    ERASE Racism
13       -and-
    Katherine Leitch
14  Senior Policy Analyst
    Citizens Housing and
15   Planning Council
16  Samuel Stein
    Housing Policy Analyst
17  Community Service Society                297       306








 1  2022-2023 Executive Budget
 2  1-31-22
 3                     LIST OF SPEAKERS, Cont.  
 4                                       STATEMENT   QUESTIONS
 5  Casey Berkovitz
    Coalition Coordinator
 6  ADU New York
 7  Sally Santangelo 
    Executive Director 
 8  CNY Fair Housing
 9  Marlene Zarfes
    Executive Director
10  Westchester Residential 
11       -and-
    Ryan Chavez
12  Program Director
    Cypress Hills Local 
13   Development Corporation
14  Timothy Foley
15  Building and Realty Institute
     of Westchester and the
16   Mid-Hudson Region                       312       329
17  William J. Simmons
18  NYS Public Housing Authorities
     Directors Association                
19       -and-
    Elise Levy
20  Tenant Organizer and Advocate
    Housing Conservation Coordinators
21       -and-
    Christine Hughes
22  Tenant Leader
    Affordable Housing Leaders Group
23  Housing Conservation Coordinators        351       359


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Good afternoon.  

 2           I'm Helene Weinstein, chair of the Assembly 

 3           Ways and Means Committee and cochair of 

 4           today's hearing.  

 5                  Today we begin the fourth in a series 

 6           of hearings conducted by the joint fiscal 

 7           committees of the Legislature regarding the 

 8           Governor's proposed budget for fiscal year 

 9           2022-2023, and today is the hearing regarding 

10           Housing.

11                  I'll introduce the members of the 

12           Assembly who are here.  Then I'll turn it 

13           over to Senator Krueger, the cochair of 

14           today's hearing, the chair of the Finance 

15           Committee, to introduce her colleagues, and 

16           we will have our ranking members introduce 

17           their colleagues.

18                  And just to remind witnesses -- 

19           actually, Commissioner, you'll have 

20           10 minutes to make a presentation.  We 

21           already have circulated your testimony, so 

22           feel free to not use all the 10 minutes.  And 

23           then there will be -- we'll go to the chairs 

24           for 10 minutes, up to 10 minutes each, to 


 1           ask -- 

 2                  (Zoom interruption.)

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Make sure 

 4           you're muted if you're not speaking.  So 

 5           Senator Krueger and I should be the only ones 

 6           unmuted.

 7                  The other witnesses, once we leave the 

 8           governmental witnesses, the witnesses will, 

 9           as I mentioned to my colleagues, mostly be in 

10           panels, and each witness will have three 

11           minutes to make a presentation and then 

12           members will have three minutes to ask a 

13           question of the panel.  

14                  And just keep an eye on the clock.  

15           The time sometimes goes faster than you think 

16           it does.

17                  So I think with that, as long as 

18           everybody adheres to our guidelines, I want 

19           to introduce the New York State Homes and 

20           Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne 

21           Visnauskas, who is the commissioner and CEO.  

22                  And RuthAnne, the floor is yours for 

23           10 minutes. 

24                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Thank you.  


 1           Good afternoon, Chairs Krueger, Weinstein, 

 2           Kavanagh, Cymbrowitz, and distinguished 

 3           members of the Legislature.

 4                  My name is RuthAnne Visnauskas, and 

 5           I'm commissioner and CEO of New York State 

 6           Homes and Community Renewal.  I'm honored to 

 7           testify before you today on the housing 

 8           portion of Governor Kathy Hochul's Executive 

 9           Budget proposal for the 2022-2023 state 

10           fiscal year.  

11                  The Executive Budget lays out a 

12           comprehensive and thoughtful blueprint for 

13           addressing New York's housing and 

14           homelessness crisis.  It recognizes housing 

15           access as critical to the state's economic 

16           recovery efforts and commitment to social 

17           justice, and it addresses longstanding 

18           systemic inequities and brings us closer to 

19           our goals of achieving a cleaner, greener 

20           climate and closing the gap in digital 

21           connectivity for lower-income families.  

22                  The centerpiece of the Governor's 

23           budget for housing is a new $25 billion 

24           five-year Housing Plan designed to build on 


 1           our current plan with the preservation or 

 2           construction of another 100,000 affordable 

 3           homes, including 10,000 supportive 

 4           apartments.  The new plan will serve low- and 

 5           moderate-income renters and homeowners; 

 6           preserve and protect the existing housing 

 7           stock; support individuals, families, 

 8           seniors, and people with special needs; 

 9           invest in manufactured homes and parks across 

10           the state; and assist those experiencing 

11           homelessness and housing insecurity.  

12                  We are at the finish line of the 

13           state's first affordable Housing Plan and, as 

14           we close out this fiscal year in March, we 

15           are confident that we will meet that first 

16           goal.  This is a shared success, and I could 

17           not be prouder of my team and all of our 

18           partners.  

19                  As we look ahead, the elements of the 

20           new Housing Plan will be shaped by our 

21           accomplishments as well as the many 

22           conversations we have had with our partners 

23           across the state this past summer and fall.  

24           To be sure, the path to another 100,000 


 1           affordable homes will be guided by the events 

 2           and lessons of the last two years.  

 3                  More specifically, our aim will be to 

 4           address the community health disparities 

 5           exposed during the pandemic, erase the 

 6           redlines that still block people of color 

 7           from homeownership and housing choice, expand 

 8           housing access and supply in historically 

 9           underinvested areas, support statewide goals 

10           for clean energy and green jobs, and bridge 

11           the digital divide.  

12                  The new Housing Plan expands resources 

13           for electrification and weatherization that 

14           benefit our health, safety and environment, 

15           helping us achieve the state's essential 

16           climate goals.  We've also included a pilot 

17           program to spur innovation in affordable 

18           housing governance and construction methods.  

19                  To accomplish all of this, we will 

20           once again rely on your support and 

21           partnership to help us cement New York's 

22           reputation as an innovative leader in 

23           compassionate, thoughtful and purpose-driven 

24           affordable housing and community development.  


 1           However, these investments alone cannot 

 2           address the root cause of our housing 

 3           shortage.  Governor Hochul's Executive Budget 

 4           includes several proposals to help the state 

 5           boost its overall housing supply and 

 6           affordable housing supply by easing or 

 7           removing restrictive land-use regulations 

 8           that are barriers to housing production.  To 

 9           this end, we're proposing some strong, 

10           commonsense changes.  

11                  The Governor's budget will encourage 

12           increasing our housing supply by requiring 

13           localities to allow accessory dwelling units 

14           in single-family neighborhoods; requiring 

15           localities to allow multifamily development 

16           opportunities in transit-rich areas; removing 

17           the state's cap on residential density in 

18           high-density neighborhoods in New York City; 

19           and easing restrictions on the conversion of 

20           hotels and commercial buildings into housing.  

21                  But these actions are not enough. 

22           Providing equal and fair access to housing is 

23           just as important as building new homes and 

24           apartments.  As part of our mission to reduce 


 1           housing insecurity, our social justice agenda 

 2           will help improve access to housing for 

 3           people who have been involved in the criminal 

 4           justice system or have negative credit 

 5           histories.  We will combat housing 

 6           discrimination statewide by expanding the 

 7           state's fair housing testing program, 

 8           particularly in counties not previously 

 9           served by local fair housing organizations 

10           but where suspected systemic discrimination 

11           exists.  

12                  And we will seek to reduce unjust 

13           evictions by making free legal counsel 

14           available to low- and middle-income tenants 

15           in eviction proceedings.  This proposal, the 

16           Eviction Prevention Legal Assistance Program, 

17           will provide renters a measure of protection 

18           from the economic, physical and emotional 

19           harm that comes from being displaced.  With 

20           proper access to legal representation, we 

21           know that more than 80 percent of tenants are 

22           able to remain in their homes.  

23                  We believe that our plan and proposals 

24           offer rational alternatives to the status 


 1           quo.  They're rooted in justice and fairness 

 2           and, most important, compassion for all 

 3           New Yorkers, whatever their ability, income 

 4           or history.  We're excited for the 

 5           opportunity to continue to create 

 6           high-quality affordable housing opportunities 

 7           that build strong and healthy communities.  

 8                  And on behalf of the New Yorkers we 

 9           serve, I am truly grateful for the 

10           Legislature's support, and I ask for your 

11           continued commitment to securing the 

12           resources and advancing the legislation we 

13           need to make a real difference in peoples' 

14           lives and to meet the needs of our diverse 

15           communities.  

16                  Thank you. 

17                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

18           Commissioner.

19                  I was so -- we were so anxious to hear 

20           from you that I totally forgot to introduce 

21           my colleagues who are here with us today.  So 

22           let me -- we kept you waiting so long, we 

23           just wanted to let you get started.  

24                  So I wanted to just take a moment to 


 1           introduce the Assemblymembers, and then 

 2           Senator Krueger will introduce the Senators.

 3                  So we have with us our Assembly chair, 

 4           Assemblyman Cymbrowitz; Assemblyman Bronson; 

 5           Assemblyman Burdick; Assemblyman Epstein; 

 6           Assemblywoman Hyndman; Assemblywoman Jackson; 

 7           Assemblywoman Joyner; Assemblywoman Kelles; 

 8           Assemblyman Meeks; Assemblywoman Niou; 

 9           Assemblyman Rivera; Assemblywoman Rosenthal; 

10           and Assemblywoman Seawright.  

11                  Assemblyman Ra, do you want to 

12           introduce your colleagues who are here?  

13                  ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Sure.  Hi.  We are 

14           joined by Assemblyman Fitzpatrick, our ranker 

15           on Housing, and Assemblyman Lawler.

16                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

17                  Senator Krueger, would you please 

18           introduce your colleagues.

19                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

20                  I see Senator Robert Jackson, 

21           Senator Leroy Comrie, of course our Housing 

22           Chair Brian Kavanagh, Senator John Mannion, 

23           Senator Zellnor Myrie, Senator Pam Helming, 

24           Senator John Liu, Senator Pete Harckham.  And 


 1           that's just the question askers so far.  

 2                  We also have Senator Phil Boyle, 

 3           Senator Julia Salazar, Senator Diane Savino, 

 4           Senator Jim Tedisco, Senator Jabari Brisport, 

 5           Senator Brad Hoylman.  

 6                  I think I've got us all, both sides.  

 7           Thank you.

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Okay.  So then 

 9           now we will go to our Assembly Housing chair, 

10           Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, for 

11           10 minutes, please, on the clock.

12                  ASSEMBLYMAN CYMBROWITZ:  Thank you 

13           very much.  Thank you, Chairs Weinstein, 

14           Krueger.  I want to shout out to my colleague 

15           Senator Kavanagh.  We always say hello at 

16           these hearings.

17                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Hello, 

18           Assemblymember.

19                  ASSEMBLYMAN CYMBROWITZ:  Welcome, 

20           Commissioner Visnauskas.  I want to 

21           personally thank you for being such a strong 

22           advocate for the five-year plan, and want to 

23           congratulate you for all you've accomplished 

24           in the previous five-year plan.  I know that 


 1           we're heading toward the finish line of doing 

 2           that, and look forward to the next five 

 3           years.

 4                  I wanted to spend a little time 

 5           talking about homeownership.  That's a major 

 6           issue that we have found, traveling around 

 7           the state, that there are so many people who 

 8           are renting and they could pay for a mortgage 

 9           with those dollars that they're paying for 

10           rent, and we need to help them.

11                  Can we talk a little bit about -- I 

12           know that in the 2021-'22 budget we included 

13           $539 million for the Homeowner Assistance 

14           Fund that just began taking applications 

15           January 3rd.  You know, I was wondering if 

16           you have any updates on this process, and 

17           then talk about the allocation in this year's 

18           housing plan that includes $400 million for 

19           homeownership projects.

20                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Sure, I 

21           would be happy to talk about both those 

22           things, thank you.  

23                  So for the Housing Assistance Fund we 

24           were -- we worked very hard to get our 


 1           application into Treasury, we were very 

 2           excited to be first in the country to be 

 3           approved.  We started our marketing right 

 4           around Thanksgiving so people would have a 

 5           sort of nice long period of time to 

 6           understand the program and their eligibility 

 7           and get their documents in order.  And as you 

 8           said, we opened January 3rd.  

 9                  We anticipated being open for at least 

10           30 days, and we're just about at that 30-day 

11           mark.  We have a little over 20,000 

12           applications received and completed.  And we 

13           are not quite at our, you know, full sort of 

14           spend, so we will stay open and keep 

15           evaluating.  

16                  You know, the process with the 

17           mortgages involves us reaching out to the 

18           banks and making sure that homeowners have 

19           been offered every program and opportunity 

20           that the banks can provide for homeowners for 

21           their mortgages, so it's going to take us a 

22           little longer to sort of do that 

23           back-and-forth.  

24                  But we feel very good about the 


 1           program.  We have a very high percentage of 

 2           socially disadvantaged applicants, which was 

 3           one of our sort of key features of this, is 

 4           making sure we are getting to people that 

 5           don't traditionally get access to 

 6           governmental programs.

 7                  So we will remain in communication 

 8           with the Legislature and with the public 

 9           about how we're doing on the applications, 

10           but so far so good on that front.  

11                  On the homeownership in the Housing 

12           Plan, we -- there are sort of two sides to 

13           the homeownership with sort of the supply 

14           side and the demand side.

15                  So on the demand side we have our 

16           SONYMA platform that provides mortgages to 

17           first-time homebuyers, and we have made a lot 

18           of changes there on the demand side to make 

19           sure that we are increasing our down payment 

20           assistance.  We rolled out -- and I talked 

21           about this last year -- a program called Give 

22           Us Credit to make sure that people weren't 

23           being denied who had historically been denied 

24           for credit reasons for mortgages.  And we 


 1           have shifted very much to the supply side of 

 2           that.  

 3                  And as you can see in the Housing 

 4           Plan, with the $400 million we want to both 

 5           keep going on existing programs like 

 6           Legacy Cities, which we launched last year, 

 7           which utilizes vacant properties in upstate 

 8           cities to rehabilitate them for 

 9           homeownership, but also making sure that 

10           we're getting a production of new 

11           one-to-four-family homes, condos, co-ops, 

12           sort of whatever the right homeownership 

13           option may be across the state, to get at -- 

14           as you said, there may be people who have 

15           income to pay, but they can't find an 

16           affordable house to buy.  So we are really 

17           hoping to make a dent in that as we look at 

18           this next five-year plan with the 

19           homeownership dollars.

20                  ASSEMBLYMAN CYMBROWITZ:  Can you talk 

21           about the strategies that you're going to be 

22           employing in order to reach the people who 

23           really need that assistance?  

24                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So we try to 


 1           be very data-driven in what we do.  When we 

 2           launched Give Us Credit last year, we looked 

 3           around the state and looked at places where 

 4           we saw homeowners of color getting denied at 

 5           twice the rate as white homeowners, holding 

 6           constant for income, and made sure that we 

 7           from a marketing and outreach and grassroots 

 8           perspective were very heavily in those areas.

 9                  And that will hold true going forward.  

10           We really try to make sure that we are 

11           utilizing our network of organizations around 

12           the state, whether that's legal service 

13           providers or nonprofit housing providers, to 

14           make sure that people are aware, especially 

15           those who are, you know, often least likely 

16           to have access to or sort of know about 

17           government programs, to make sure that 

18           they're the ones who can avail themselves of 

19           these opportunities.

20                  ASSEMBLYMAN CYMBROWITZ:  Moving on to 

21           public housing.  Public housing authorities 

22           outside the city were identified in this 

23           proposed budget to receive additional 

24           funding.  Can you discuss why NYCHA was 


 1           excluded and not provided any new funding?  

 2                  And if you can talk about -- I know 

 3           we've discussed in the past the Preservation 

 4           Trust and the importance -- the fact that 

 5           there will not be any Build It Back Better 

 6           money coming and that the only way that NYCHA 

 7           can be saved is through the Preservation 

 8           Trust.

 9                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I would say 

10           I haven't given up completely on Build It 

11           Back Better.  I am still advocating and 

12           hopeful that there will be not just funding 

13           for public housing authorities, of which a 

14           large share of that would go to NYCHA, but 

15           also many of the other things that were in 

16           Build Back Better for housing.  So we're 

17           going to keep fighting on that front to try 

18           to get those things.

19                  In terms of the budget for NYCHA, you 

20           know, at the time that the budget was getting 

21           pulled together, Build Back Better was 

22           really -- you know, still seemed somewhat -- 

23           very much alive, with the potential for 

24           $40 billion to come to NYCHA.  So I think 


 1           that's one of the reasons why you don't see 

 2           capital for NYCHA.

 3                  We do have capital in for 

 4           rest-of-state.  We were very thankful to get 

 5           an additional slug of capital last year, and 

 6           we haven't spent all of that, and now we've 

 7           put a new ask in for another five years.  

 8                  We are still working with many, many 

 9           wonderful public housing authorities around 

10           the state.  I was just up in Schenectady in 

11           December looking at what they have done to 

12           transform their public housing stock.  And so 

13           there's a lot of great work still to be done.  

14           So we're really excited and looking forward 

15           to working with the rest-of-state housing 

16           authorities on their renovation plans.

17                  I think as relates to the trust, you 

18           know, the trust is a complicated document.  

19           And NYCHA is complicated, given its sort of 

20           federal, city and state sort of multiparty 

21           interested parties there.  I think that we 

22           have tried to advocate that NYCHA needs as 

23           many tools as it can get.  There are, you 

24           know, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of 


 1           residents at NYCHA who are in much need of 

 2           vital repairs.  And as many people know, the 

 3           proposal around the trust would allow NYCHA 

 4           to access much, much more revenue from the 

 5           federal government that would allow it to 

 6           make capital repairs at scale.

 7                  So we have been working with the city 

 8           administration and the new administration, 

 9           and so I think those conversations around the 

10           trust will continue.

11                  ASSEMBLYMAN CYMBROWITZ:  Do you think 

12           there's any chance that the Governor might 

13           put the trust into her 30-day amendment?

14                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I can't 

15           speak to that.  But we are certainly working 

16           with the city and talking with them to better 

17           understand what they need in the trust 

18           legislation.

19                  ASSEMBLYMAN CYMBROWITZ:  In the 

20           remaining time, could you just talk about the 

21           change of use in New York City of certain 

22           buildings and talk about additional building 

23           density in New York City?  How would that 

24           produce more affordable housing?


 1                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So New York 

 2           City has not kept up with its housing supply 

 3           relative to population growth and job growth.  

 4           There are some estimates that say that the 

 5           city needs to build another 500,000 units of 

 6           housing by 2030.  And at the scale at which 

 7           housing is produced, market-rate and 

 8           affordable housing is produced today, we 

 9           would not get there.  It's a two-or-three- 

10           times-fold production.

11                  So we've tried to put forward in the 

12           budget this year a series of solutions for 

13           that, and that includes helping developers 

14           convert commercial or hotels into housing.  

15           That includes lifting the FAR cap to allow 

16           the city to have a little more discretion 

17           over where residential development is in the 

18           city; that includes a tax exemption.  All of 

19           these tools will allow us to grow in a way 

20           that will alleviate housing affordability, 

21           alleviate overcrowding, and we think those 

22           are important policy issues as we go forward.  

23                  ASSEMBLYMAN CYMBROWITZ:  Thank you 

24           very much.


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  I'll move it 

 2           over to the Senate, but first I see that 

 3           Assemblywoman Maritza Davila has joined us, 

 4           and Assemblywoman Latrice Walker.

 5                  So now we go to Senator Krueger for 

 6           their Housing chair.

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  We're 

 8           going to hand it over to Senator Brian 

 9           Kavanagh for 10 minutes.  Thank you.

10                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:   Thank you very 

11           much, Senator Krueger.  And let me just begin 

12           by thanking both Senator Krueger and 

13           Assemblymember Weinstein for your marathon of 

14           chairing these hearings and leading in this 

15           process.  

16                  And also just to note, you know, our 

17           own Finance staff -- Dave Frazier and Chris 

18           Friend and Michael Sherman, as well as our 

19           counsel staff, Nic Rangel and Nayram Gasu, 

20           who have done a lot of work in preparation 

21           for this, as well as Hally Chu, who is the 

22           housing director on my staff.

23                  And, you know, also just -- I'll 

24           return the shout-out for Assemblymember 


 1           Cymbrowitz.  We've worked very closely on a 

 2           lot of these issues for a very long time.  

 3           He's a terrific partner and of course taught 

 4           me everything I know about housing when I was 

 5           a young Assemblymember on his Housing 

 6           Committee.

 7                  And also my ranker in the Senate, 

 8           Pam Helming, whom we'll hear from shortly, 

 9           and the rankers on the other side, Mike 

10           Fitzpatrick and Ed Ra, who I also had a lot 

11           of opportunity to interact with over many 

12           years in the Assembly on all of these issues.  

13           So it's good to see everybody.  

14                  And thank you, Commissioner, for your 

15           testimony today and also for your leadership 

16           in the last few years.  It's been really I 

17           think a very productive time in housing in 

18           New York, and we're looking forward to, you 

19           know, an even more productive time with a 

20           very substantial five-year plan.

21                  Can you just begin with -- just give 

22           us -- you sort of highlighted a few aspects 

23           of the five-year plan.  Can you just talk a 

24           little bit about how this plan differs from 


 1           the preceding five years?

 2                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Sure.

 3                  So, you know, in many ways our sort of 

 4           production is limited by federal resources.  

 5           Sort of the backbone of our work is the 

 6           volume cap and the 9 percent tax credits that 

 7           we get from the federal government, and we 

 8           had been very hopeful for the second half of 

 9           last year that there would be a Build Back 

10           Better bill that would allow for the 

11           expansion of both those things.  You know, 

12           such as it is, we are where we are, and 

13           that's not exactly on the table, although we 

14           will keep, as I said, sort of advocating and 

15           working for that.

16                  So what you see in our new plan is 

17           sort of maintaining a lot of the programs 

18           that, you know, as you all will recall, when 

19           we did this five years ago, we didn't really 

20           have a series of programs and a five-year 

21           plan.  And so we have gotten the industry 

22           across the state I think somewhat acclimated 

23           to a series of programs around new 

24           construction, supportive housing, senior 


 1           housing, renovating our Mitchell-Lama housing 

 2           and our public housing in a series of 

 3           programs.  So we really thought it was 

 4           important to maintain those.

 5                  We have increased funding for many of 

 6           those programs for a variety of reasons.  In 

 7           the original plan we did have some sort of 

 8           additional dollars sort of from previous 

 9           times.  So we had sort of more than the 

10           2.5 billion that we started with at the 

11           beginning of the last five years.

12                  But we've made a couple of changes.  

13           One is that in order to align with the CLCPA, 

14           we have sort of embedded electrification into 

15           our new construction and will be rolling it 

16           into all of our preservation work too, which 

17           will come -- sort of follow a little bit 

18           after our new construction.  But so our costs 

19           went up as a result of that, and you will see 

20           that in here.

21                  We also added a sort of new focused 

22           line item specifically to electrify the 

23           existing housing stock to make sure that 

24           low-income tenants and buildings in 


 1           low-income communities don't get left behind 

 2           as we go to a sort of carbon-neutral housing 

 3           stock.

 4                  So I think those are two sort of 

 5           fundamental things.  

 6                  In addition to that, as the 

 7           Assemblymember had mentioned, we have a much 

 8           bigger investment into homeownership 

 9           programs.  I think that, you know, you don't 

10           have to look very far in the housing policy 

11           world to read about the racial wealth gap in 

12           homeownership.  And so we are very much 

13           leaning into that with a series of -- with 

14           this funding that will allow us to really get 

15           at supply side housing production, affordable 

16           housing production.  

17                  So I think those are probably some of 

18           the highlights I would call out.

19                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  I appreciate that.  

20           That's a helpful review.

21                  I'm going to talk about a few of those 

22           issues, but I want to go back to something 

23           that Assemblymember Cymbrowitz talked about, 

24           that public housing, especially the NYCHA 


 1           commitment -- we have seen, I think, you 

 2           know, some inadequate investments in capital 

 3           from all sides in NYCHA.  But this bill 

 4           doesn't have any.  And, you know, Steve asked 

 5           you, like, you know, is there some assumption 

 6           that we might get Build Back Better.  You 

 7           said you were still hopeful.  I'm hopeful as 

 8           well.  

 9                  But is there -- assuming we get to 

10           March 31st and we don't have Build Back 

11           Better dollars for NYCHA, would it be 

12           appropriate for us to be rethinking what 

13           we're enacting this year to ensure that there 

14           is significant capital for NYCHA?  

15                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  As you all 

16           probably know from asking me in years past, 

17           the money that's in the Housing Budget for 

18           NYCHA is subject to an agreement largely 

19           between NYCHA and DASNY as to how those funds 

20           get spent and the scope of work.  And often 

21           you all ask me for sort of an update on that, 

22           which I usually provide sort of a light 

23           update but I'm often sort of -- I'm not 

24           really -- we are not really directive of 


 1           those funds or involved in those capital 

 2           funds.  

 3                  So I wouldn't sort of put my thumb on 

 4           the scales to say whether it's appropriate or 

 5           not.  As you would say, it's been -- there 

 6           has been funding for NYCHA in the past.  I 

 7           think the scale of obviously the $40 billion 

 8           coming from the federal government is the 

 9           scale on which NYCHA's needs are, which are, 

10           you know, much different than what we would 

11           be able to provide at the state level.

12                  But -- and as I said, I think we 

13           remain open and optimistic to push the 

14           federal government to really provide NYCHA 

15           with the level of funding that it needs, 

16           rather than have it go another generation 

17           without that.

18                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Okay.  I'm not 

19           going to belabor this now, but just to say, 

20           for the record, I mean the notion of DASNY 

21           being involved in that was I think a 

22           particular predisposition of the prior 

23           governor.  So I think we should be revisiting 

24           this question of whether, you know, our 


 1           housing agency can consider the housing needs 

 2           of New York City residents as well -- you 

 3           know, public housing residents as well as 

 4           those outside the city.

 5                  On the electrification, recognizing 

 6           that most of the -- I guess most of the 

 7           adjustments are about increases in costs for 

 8           development, how much money is in this budget 

 9           for retrofitting existing buildings for 

10           electrification?  

11                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So we tried 

12           to build into our programs -- you know, one 

13           of the I think challenges for owners trying 

14           to do this work is having to go in silos to 

15           multiple different agencies and get access to 

16           funding.  

17                  So we built into our -- on both our 

18           new construction and our multifamily 

19           preservation program, assumptions that came 

20           out of the CLCPA work which we've spent the 

21           better part of two years doing, to make sure 

22           that we can, you know, pay for those either 

23           electric-ready or actual electrification, 

24           depending on sort of the building stock and 


 1           the technology available, within these 

 2           existing funds.  

 3                  So I don't have an exact sort of 

 4           number, but we worked on this -- built sort 

 5           of the budget with those costs included.

 6                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Could your staff 

 7           try -- could somebody try to take a look at 

 8           the budget and figure out how -- like 

 9           presumably various things were increased by 

10           various percentages.  It would be helpful, I 

11           think, given -- we know there's a massive 

12           scale, but I think it would be helpful to 

13           know how much we're investing in that work.

14                  And as you know, I think there's 

15           also -- you know, there's a proposal for a 

16           requirement of electrified buildings in the 

17           future in the private sector as well.  And I 

18           have the Electric Building Act I've been 

19           working on with Assemblymember Gallagher and 

20           others.  But I'd like to focus on that as 

21           this process is unfolding.

22                  The City of New York estimates that 

23           when tenants are represented and they have 

24           legal services during eviction proceedings, 


 1           they are very likely to remain in their 

 2           home -- about 84 percent, I think, is the 

 3           number there.  Is that -- given that this 

 4           budget is appropriating additional money for 

 5           legal representation -- first of all, I guess 

 6           it's $35 million in the budget.  Is that -- 

 7           how much legal representation might that 

 8           provide?  And is -- what is your assessment 

 9           of how much -- could we replicate the 

10           success -- that rate in New York City in 

11           upstate communities if we were to provide 

12           adequate funding for legal representation?  

13                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So this is 

14           something that is very important to the 

15           Governor in the budget.  And as many people 

16           saw, there was $25 million actually that came 

17           out of the ERAP funding sort of as a seed for 

18           this.  And so we looked at some data for 

19           rest-of-state around evictions and around 

20           costs, and there's sort of a variety of 

21           estimates about what the demand and the costs 

22           might be.  

23                  So this is a sort of projection.  I 

24           don't think we really, you know, know what 


 1           the full uptake will be.  But we're very 

 2           committed to getting this out the door, you 

 3           know, as a test to then see sort of what the 

 4           real demand in uptake will be.

 5                  But we -- you know, we agree with you 

 6           that the percent success rate in New York 

 7           City certainly merits us doing this in the 

 8           rest of the state and giving people access.

 9                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Just to be clear, 

10           you're not projecting that this meets the 

11           whole cost of legal representation statewide, 

12           is that fair?

13                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I don't 

14           think we know -- when we looked, we found 

15           many estimates that were very wide in their 

16           numbers.  So I think we don't really know.  

17           And this is an attempt to put a number in the 

18           budget and evaluate.

19                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Okay.  Again, I 

20           think as we continue negotiations, I think 

21           we'd like to get a sense of how that -- you 

22           know, how widespread -- how available legal  

23           representation that would -- how available 

24           that would make legal representation in 


 1           various jurisdictions.  

 2                  Just one quick question.  There is 

 3           funding for Neighborhood and Rural 

 4           Preservation programs that I think are 

 5           straight-lined against last year's adopted 

 6           budget, which is an improvement, because it 

 7           includes some legislative adds that I think 

 8           we put in last year.  

 9                  There is still no money for the 

10           coalitions, for the Neighborhood and Rural 

11           Preservation Coalitions respectively.  I 

12           think in the past we've sought to make sure 

13           they had funding to administer their 

14           centralized services.  

15                  Is that -- I mean, does the Executive 

16           Budget reflect some skepticism of the value 

17           of that, or is it sort of an oversight or 

18           just --

19                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I think that 

20           we had thought that the coalitions were 

21           included in that.  So maybe we can just get 

22           back to you on that.

23                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Okay.  Our staff 

24           analysis has said they're not, so we would 


 1           appreciate that question.  

 2                  And I think I will come back for 

 3           another round of questions if our chairs will 

 4           permit me, but my time is up now.  So thank 

 5           you for --

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Your time is up 

 7           now, so we'll talk about that later.  Thank 

 8           you, Brian.  

 9                  Chair Weinstein.

10                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  The Housing 

11           ranker, Assemblyman Fitzpatrick, for five 

12           minutes.

13                  ASSEMBLYMAN FITZPATRICK:  Yes, thank 

14           you, Madam Chair.  Welcome, Commissioner.  

15           Great to see everybody.  

16                  Commissioner, just let me ask you, 

17           with regard to the regulated housing stock, 

18           do you have any concern about its future 

19           condition, you know, given that there was a 

20           rather drastic reduction in the number of 

21           MCIs?

22                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  We have not 

23           seen a large uptick in complaints.  So, you 

24           know, I think it depends on what you use as 


 1           your metric for the housing stock.  But at 

 2           this time we aren't concerned that there's 

 3           been an adverse impact on the housing stock.  

 4           As we can see in, you know, data.

 5                  ASSEMBLYMAN FITZPATRICK:  I see.  All 

 6           right.  Do you have any statistics on the 

 7           number of individual apartment improvements 

 8           undertaken by owners in 2022 and 2021?  

 9                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  We have a 

10           couple of thousand IAIs that have been 

11           uploaded into the public database that was 

12           included as part of the HSTPA legislation.  I 

13           don't know the exact number from this year, 

14           but I'd be happy to follow up and get that to 

15           you.

16                  ASSEMBLYMAN FITZPATRICK:  Okay, thank 

17           you.

18                  And then what is the number of 

19           harassment complaints filed in '19, '20 and 

20           '21 and the number of owners who were found 

21           guilty?

22                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I don't have 

23           those off the top of my head, but I'd be 

24           happy to follow up with those as well.


 1                  ASSEMBLYMAN FITZPATRICK:  Okay -- 

 2                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Just a 

 3           clarification.  You meant 2019 and 2020 --

 4                  ASSEMBLYMAN FITZPATRICK:  Yeah, 2019, 

 5           2020.

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  You said 1920, 

 7           and I thought that was a bit of a stretch --

 8                  ASSEMBLYMAN FITZPATRICK:  I meant 

 9           2019, sorry.

10                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

11                  ASSEMBLYMAN FITZPATRICK:  Great.  

12                  And, Commissioner, with regard to the 

13           accessory dwelling units, what was the 

14           rationale in frankly removing local control 

15           and local zoning and interfering with local 

16           zoning here?  What is the rationale of the 

17           Governor in doing this?  

18                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So as I 

19           mentioned a little bit earlier, there is -- 

20           we are not keeping pace with our housing 

21           production based on our population growth and 

22           our job growth.  And so there's a real demand 

23           for housing, especially in downstate -- 

24           Long Island, New York City, Westchester, 


 1           Hudson Valley.  You know, there's an 

 2           affordability issue.  Many people are doubled 

 3           up.  You could argue that many people in our 

 4           homeless shelter system are there for purely 

 5           economic reasons because they can't afford 

 6           housing.

 7                  And so accessory dwelling units is a 

 8           way for there to be the creation of 

 9           additional housing supply.  You know, it can 

10           be affordable, but it could just be 

11           additional housing supply.  It allows seniors 

12           to either receive additional income in -- you 

13           know, perhaps if they're on a fixed income 

14           and in a place where taxes are going up, it 

15           would allow them to move into an accessory 

16           dwelling unit, allow their family to move 

17           into the larger home, especially at a time 

18           where I think there's a lot of 

19           intergenerational care, whether it's for a 

20           parent or for a child and the families have 

21           gotten -- sort of spreading among the 

22           generations for that type of support.  

23                  And so we see accessory dwelling units 

24           as giving homeowners the opportunity to have 


 1           more choice in where they live, to have more 

 2           affordability options, potentially to have 

 3           income options, at a time when we really are 

 4           in need of more housing supply.

 5                  ASSEMBLYMAN FITZPATRICK:  Well, let me 

 6           ask you, you have situations where you have 

 7           quarter-acre zoning -- I know in Suffolk 

 8           County, for example, all development is 

 9           guided by the health code.  You know, we live 

10           above an aquifer, so overburdening that 

11           aquifer and, you know, increased density.  

12           We're already -- I mean, a number of 

13           communities on Long Island are doing pretty 

14           good work around the transit-oriented 

15           development model.  And, you know, our 

16           limitations are sewers.  We could use more 

17           sewer money to develop that.  And that is 

18           becoming a more popular option.  Downtown 

19           redevelopment, second- and third-floor 

20           apartments above stores along Main Streets.

21                  But, you know, people -- regardless of 

22           where they come from, they move out to the 

23           suburbs to live in a single-family home.  

24           And, you know, in my years on the town 


 1           council in Smithtown we were always having 

 2           problems with basement apartments, illegal 

 3           apartments and absentee landlords that were 

 4           becoming a huge problem in suburban areas.  

 5                  And I think the way -- from what I've 

 6           read so far, we may have those problems 

 7           again, in spite of the fact that there's a 

 8           one-year requirement to live there.  If 

 9           that's not monitored very closely, I think 

10           that will be gamed, and we're going to have 

11           some real problems in the suburbs.  And I'm 

12           not crazy about this proposal, and I think it 

13           needs to be thought through.  

14                  Do you have any comment?  

15                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I think I 

16           would say two things.  One is I don't think 

17           anybody wants illegal apartments, so I think 

18           providing sort of a framework for this allows 

19           those apartments to be legal where people are 

20           adding basement apartments or attic 

21           apartments or whatever that may be.

22                  And we put in the bill, you know, to 

23           be somewhat responsive to that issue, that 

24           municipalities can obviously take into 


 1           consideration health and safety issues as 

 2           they create their own sort of zoning to allow 

 3           the accessory dwelling units.

 4                  So we understand that there are 

 5           obviously health and safety issues, whether 

 6           it's sewers or flood plain issues, and that 

 7           those should be taken into account.

 8                  ASSEMBLYMAN FITZPATRICK:  Okay.  My 

 9           time is up.  Thank you, Commissioner.  

10                  Thank you, Madam Chair.

11                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We'll go to 

12           Senator Krueger.  

13                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you very 

14           much.  Senator Pam Helming for five minutes, 

15           the ranker on Housing.

16                  SENATOR HELMING:  Thank you, Senator 

17           Krueger.

18                  Commissioner, it's great to see you 

19           again.  Happy New Year.  

20                  And as always, I want to take a moment 

21           and recognize both you and your incredible 

22           team.  I mean, you're just doing tremendous 

23           things around the entire state and for that 

24           I'm truly appreciative.  And while I know, 


 1           you know, we may not always agree on policy, 

 2           I think there's a lot that we can join 

 3           together on to do better for residents of New 

 4           York State.

 5                  So I wanted to talk a little bit -- an 

 6           example of that, I think, is the five-year 

 7           Housing Plan.  I think it's absolutely 

 8           remarkable.  But I'm curious, how are we 

 9           going to ensure that that funding is shared 

10           with our suburban, rural and upstate -- how 

11           is it going to be used to address our upstate 

12           housing needs, that they're equally 

13           considered?

14                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So we have 

15           a -- I would say two things.  

16                  One is we -- as Senator Kavanagh 

17           mentioned, I think funding of our rural 

18           preservation organizations is key to that, 

19           because they really are our eyes and ears on 

20           the ground that help make sure people are 

21           aware of our programs and can access them.  

22                  And whether that is, you know, 

23           preserving an existing rural multifamily 

24           building, of which there are many in the 


 1           state, whether it's a manufactured home 

 2           park -- and we have, in the last five years, 

 3           as you know, rolled out a series of programs 

 4           to make sure that people can have access to 

 5           mortgages, to make sure that people can get 

 6           new homes and to make sure that there's 

 7           funding for parks and for infrastructure and 

 8           really trying to shore up that part of our 

 9           housing stock which is often very rural.

10                  So we've sort of tried, through a 

11           series of our programs, to make sure, whether 

12           it's, you know, public housing or 

13           preservation or multifamily or on the 

14           single-family side, that we will be getting 

15           to those rural housing needs as much as we'll 

16           be getting to the urban ones.

17                  SENATOR HELMING:  I appreciate that.  

18           And I'll be taking a closer look too to see 

19           how it breaks down, to make sure that it does 

20           feel that in upstate we're getting our fair 

21           share.

22                  I will tell you I was happy last year 

23           that the HONDA language, we were able to get 

24           that changed, right, so that it excluded 


 1           areas outside of New York City -- but then 

 2           extremely disappointed to hear that the only 

 3           projects funded were within New York City, 

 4           and that there's language that exists to 

 5           direct the additional funding to New York 

 6           City properties.

 7                  Just changing subjects for a minute, 

 8           we've -- this has been mentioned.  The 

 9           Executive Budget includes a proposal for 

10           35 million to be appropriated to support 

11           legal representation for eviction cases 

12           outside of New York City.

13                  During your opening remarks, and I 

14           think during Senator Kavanagh's questioning, 

15           it was my understanding that this funding 

16           will be earmarked solely for tenants.  Is 

17           that accurate?  

18                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  The funding 

19           will go to legal service providers, to the 

20           organizations themselves, so that they will 

21           be able to provide legal representation for 

22           tenants.

23                  SENATOR HELMING:  Is there any 

24           financial assistance that's available to our 


 1           home providers, especially our small 

 2           mom-and-pop property owners?

 3                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  That's a 

 4           fair -- that's a fair question, and I think 

 5           we would be happy to work with you on that.

 6                  SENATOR HELMING:  So at this point the 

 7           answer is no, though, right?

 8                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I don't 

 9           think as drafted.  I think it's intended to 

10           provide legal representation for tenants who, 

11           you know, in most cases are often not even 

12           aware that they can have access to legal 

13           representation or that they should get it and 

14           that their outcomes might be better.  Most of 

15           these cases are often found in the case of 

16           the landlord, so I think the need was seen as 

17           on the tenant side to make sure they could 

18           have fair standing in court.  

19                  But, you know, it's a fair comment, I 

20           think, about smaller landlords, and we could 

21           talk about that.

22                  SENATOR HELMING:  Thank you.

23                  So we all know, we've all heard from 

24           them, that the housing providers throughout 


 1           the state, especially the mom-and-pops that I 

 2           mentioned, they're really struggling to 

 3           continue to operate because of the 

 4           significant rental arrears.  And I know 

 5           there's an effort being made to try and 

 6           secure additional federal dollars.  But 

 7           what's going to happen if we're unable to do 

 8           that?  Is the state prepared to step up and 

 9           cover these rental arrears for the small 

10           mom-and-pop property owners?  

11                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So my 

12           understanding -- and this is more in the 

13           purview of OTDA than it is for HCR, is that 

14           there's some funding in the budget that I 

15           think can be potentially targeted towards the 

16           rental arrears programs should there not be 

17           enough funding that comes through at the 

18           federal level.

19                  SENATOR HELMING:  Okay.  And just real 

20           quickly, the Executive Budget proposes 

21           $77 million for areas specifically impacted 

22           by Hurricanes Sandy, Irene and Lee.  Is there 

23           any funding that you're aware of for the 

24           communities along Lake Ontario that have just 


 1           been devastated by flooding that could be 

 2           attributed to not only rain events but the 

 3           implementation of Plan 2014?

 4                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So the 

 5           funding that's in the budget for the 

 6           Governor's Office for Storm Recovery is, as 

 7           you said, for Irene, Sandy and Lee, and is 

 8           meant to complete a series of existing 

 9           community reconstruction and small sort of 

10           infrastructure projects.

11                  I think we are happy to, as we have in 

12           the past, sort of work with you on funding as 

13           other needs come up for the shoreline 

14           communities.  You know, we have the large 

15           effort from a couple of years ago working on 

16           all those infrastructure projects.  But 

17           happy, I think, to reconnect on those with 

18           you.

19                  SENATOR HELMING:  Thank you.

20                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

21                  Assemblywoman.  

22                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

23           Assemblywoman Joyner.

24                  First I just want to acknowledge 


 1           Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn 

 2           joined us earlier.

 3                  Assemblywoman Joyner, for three 

 4           minutes.

 5                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN JOYNER:  Thank you.

 6                  Good afternoon, Commissioner.  I have 

 7           two issues.  I'll just state them up front 

 8           and then allow you time to address them.

 9                  A huge crisis is unfolding in my 

10           district, in the Highbridge section of my 

11           district, where an owner applied to HCR to 

12           deregulate six buildings that will impact 

13           over 500 tenants.  The owner argues these 

14           buildings should no longer be rent-stabilized 

15           because the J-51 tax credits will expire.

16                  What is DHCR committed to doing to 

17           prevent this owner from being released from 

18           his regulatory agreement?  And just my 

19           position, on the record, is we have an 

20           affordable housing crisis and I urge the 

21           agency to take all necessary efforts to 

22           maintain these buildings within the 

23           rent-stabilized program.  That's the first 

24           issue.


 1                  The second issue is with regards to 

 2           Findlay Houses, a senior Mitchell-Lama 

 3           building at 1175 Findlay Avenue.  In 2018 the 

 4           building received a Housing Finance Agency 

 5           subsidy loan and was also awarded funds 

 6           through the Preventive Troubled Asset Program 

 7           to help with security upgrades and emergency 

 8           electric repairs.  

 9                  The building has not seen a dime of 

10           this money.  What is the timeline for the 

11           release of this money, and what efforts can 

12           be made to expedite this process?

13                  Thank you.  

14                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I'm happy to 

15           answer those.

16                  On your first question, I am aware of 

17           that case.  It is, I believe, subject to some 

18           litigation, and so I'm not sure that I can 

19           provide -- sort of comment specifically on it 

20           other than to share your concern that we 

21           are -- will certainly be very focused on 

22           making sure that there's not a negative 

23           impact to the tenants there.  And happy to 

24           follow up with you directly on that one also.


 1                  On Findlay House -- Findlay House has 

 2           been a challenging building for us for the 

 3           whole time I've been at the state, partially 

 4           because it had a somewhat absent owner.  So 

 5           we are in sort of the final part of a process 

 6           to bring in a new owner for that building, 

 7           and that owner will -- while we had allocated 

 8           some sort of temporary funding for that, what 

 9           we really want to do in that building is 

10           really a comprehensive renovation, like we 

11           would for any project we would touch, rather 

12           than sort of fixing only small, incremental 

13           things.  

14                  So we are very much looking forward to 

15           a new owner taking that on this year, very 

16           shortly, and working with them to do a large 

17           refinance of the whole building and give it 

18           all the investment that it really needs.

19                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN JOYNER:  Okay.  Well, 

20           you know, time is of the essence, right?  So 

21           we look forward to revisiting these issues 

22           and prioritizing the unfinished work that is 

23           desperately needed at buildings such as 

24           Findlay House.  Thank you.


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 2                  Back to the Senate.

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Okay.  Thank you 

 4           very much.  

 5                  Senator Robert Jackson for three 

 6           minutes.

 7                  SENATOR JACKSON:  Thank you, 

 8           Madam Chair.  

 9                  Commissioner, good afternoon.  We've 

10           been in this since 11 o'clock, and 

11           continuous.  But a couple of questions.  

12                  So can you tell me -- there's been -- 

13           a lot of criticism on the 421-a has been that 

14           the tax bracket -- the tax break provided to 

15           developers is worth far more than the 

16           affordable housing it produces, because the 

17           program subsidizes the entire building, not 

18           just affordable units.

19                  What would Governor Hochul's proposed 

20           new program change this dynamic -- how is it 

21           going to change it?  My understanding is that 

22           there is no tax incentive whatsoever.  So 

23           shed some light on that, if you don't mind.

24                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Happy to.


 1                  So we -- as I said before, New York 

 2           City and the state as a whole needs more 

 3           housing supply.  And the lack of housing 

 4           supply is what we experience when we see 

 5           people doubled up, when we see people not 

 6           able to find affordable housing.  We need 

 7           more housing.  

 8                  So we believe that the tax incentive 

 9           is -- we've moved it to a new section of law 

10           to sort of separate it from all the old parts 

11           of 421-a.  It's now in 485-w.  We feel like 

12           it's a critical tool to get housing produced 

13           in the City of New York, rental housing.  I 

14           think in the absence of a tax incentive that 

15           requires affordable housing, we would have 

16           all market-rate housing.  So we feel that the 

17           tax incentive does a couple of things better 

18           than the program did before.

19                  Number one, we've lowered the 

20           affordability in the program.  So previously 

21           many developers had taken the option where 

22           units were at 130 percent of AMI, so we have 

23           dropped that to 90 AMI and 80 AMI, which is a 

24           very significant reduction both in the 


 1           household incomes it serves but also in the 

 2           rents that it creates.

 3                  And we have made that affordability 

 4           for all buildings that are 30 units or 

 5           greater permanent.  

 6                  So this is affordable housing that can 

 7           get built in neighborhoods that stays there 

 8           forever.  It doesn't expire when the tax 

 9           exemption expires, it doesn't expire when the 

10           regulatory agreement expires.  It gets built 

11           into the fabric.  And we think it's 

12           important, as the city grows, to make sure we 

13           get real affordability in all those 

14           neighborhoods.

15                  SENATOR JACKSON:  Do you think that 

16           this change that she's proposing, is it going 

17           to cost the taxpayers more in tax credits or 

18           is it going to cost less?  And is it going to 

19           build more affordable housing for the people 

20           that really need it?  

21                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  We think 

22           that it will cost less.  We have taken 

23           portions of the tax exemption from the prior 

24           program and reduced them, so now the benefit 


 1           is less than it was.  For a subset of the 

 2           buildings, it will cost less.  

 3                  And we think that dropping the 

 4           affordability, again, from sort of 120, 130 

 5           down to 80 or 90 is more meaningful 

 6           affordability.  You know, a 130 AMI apartment 

 7           for a single person is someone who makes 

 8           $107,000 a year.  This would drop that -- 

 9           this is at the upper end -- to someone who 

10           makes more like $65,000 a year and that's at 

11           80 AMI.  So at 40 AMI, it's half of that, and 

12           someone who makes $33,000 a year. 

13                  So we think those affordability levels 

14           in the city are affordable and are important.

15                  SENATOR JACKSON:  Thank you.  My time 

16           is up.

17                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

18                  Assemblyman Lawler, three minutes.

19                  ASSEMBLYMAN LAWLER:  Thank you, 

20           Chairwoman.

21                  And Commissioner, thanks for joining 

22           us.  I want to thank you and your staff for 

23           working with me recently to address the 

24           dispute between the federal government and 


 1           the state over the Rockland County Homes for 

 2           Heroes.  I think that's an important project 

 3           to move forward and build housing for our 

 4           veterans.

 5                  I am, however, deeply concerned about 

 6           the ADU legislation that is included in the 

 7           Governor's budget.  I have heard from all of 

 8           my municipalities in opposition to this, 

 9           bipartisan opposition.  And it is something 

10           that I think will end single-family zoning 

11           throughout New York State and seriously 

12           impede upon local control, which is a 

13           constitutional right of local municipalities.

14                  I represent Southern Rockland County.  

15           Rockland County is predominantly 

16           single-family residential neighborhoods.  We 

17           do have multifamily housing, we do have 

18           accessory dwelling units.  But it is based on 

19           the decisions of our local elected officials, 

20           our planning boards, our zoning boards.  And 

21           local control is essential for our state.  

22           And I think anything that would impede upon 

23           that, in a one-size-fits-all approach to 

24           housing, is problematic.


 1                  Especially -- I understand the 

 2           challenges New York City faces.  But if 

 3           New York City wants to implement ADUs, by 

 4           right, they can do that.  They can do that 

 5           already.  They can do that by their own City 

 6           Council and they can do that through the 

 7           Mayor.

 8                  But to force local municipalities in 

 9           New York State to allow, by right, accessory 

10           dwelling units, will create a lot of problems 

11           in our municipalities.  Rockland County, 

12           two-thirds of our land is developed, a third 

13           of our land is parkland.  We have 340,000 

14           residents and growing.  Allowing ADUs will 

15           explode the population almost overnight.  

16                  We have serious concerns about the 

17           impact it will have on roads, bridges, gas 

18           pipelines, power lines, water mains, sewer 

19           lines, train tracks, which are already 

20           overburdened and in serious need of financial 

21           support.

22                  We will have a dramatic increase in 

23           traffic and street parking, which is 

24           prohibited throughout most of Rockland 


 1           County, especially in the winter with the 

 2           snow plows.  And I have serious concerns 

 3           about the impact for our first responders.  

 4                  Proposals that are out there limit the 

 5           ability of municipalities to require multiple 

 6           exterior access doors, reduce the required 

 7           ceiling height in basement units, and limit 

 8           the side and rear setbacks.  This will also 

 9           have a significant impact on SEQRA at a time 

10           that we're trying to combat climate change.  

11                  I strongly encourage the Governor to 

12           remove this from her budget -- and, if not, 

13           to allow for a local opt-out.  If you want to 

14           incentivize ADUs, by all means.  But to 

15           promote a one-size-fits-all plan is 

16           irresponsible and will lead to the 

17           elimination of local control of zoning.

18                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  I guess that 

19           hands it back over to the Senate.  Thank you.  

20                  Senator Leroy Comrie.  Are you there, 

21           Leroy?

22                  (No response.)

23                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  All right, in the 

24           absence of Leroy Comrie, I will go back to 


 1           him, but I'm jumping to Senator John Mannion.

 2                  SENATOR MANNION:  Thank you, Senator 

 3           Krueger.

 4                  A couple of quick questions here, 

 5           Commissioner.  And I know this might be a 

 6           little bit out of your world, but I know that 

 7           this is a major issue in my district and 

 8           others.

 9                  So has there been any assistance or 

10           coordination with OTDA to move along ERAP 

11           applications?  Because tenants and landlords 

12           in my district have indicated that they're 

13           waiting months for a decision when it comes 

14           to the applications.

15                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I know that 

16           OTDA and their brand-new commissioner are 

17           very focused on getting those applications 

18           approved.

19                  I don't have an update sort of on 

20           their numbers or anything; I'm sure they can 

21           supply that at their hearing.  But I know 

22           that the commissioner is laser-focused on 

23           that.

24                  SENATOR MANNION:  I appreciate that 


 1           and understand, of course.

 2                  A different question is, do you know 

 3           how much can you -- do you have any numbers 

 4           or estimates on how much the state and the 

 5           city spend on affordable housing each year, 

 6           spending on affordable housing?

 7                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  That's a 

 8           great question.  I think it probably depends 

 9           on how you think about that.  Obviously the 

10           projects that we finance are sort of highly 

11           structured and involve both, you know, 

12           federal funds, state funds, a lot of 

13           private-sector funds raised through tax 

14           credit equity, and private bank funds.  

15                  So I think it depends on the spend, 

16           depends sort of on spends, a little bit on 

17           whose dollars you mean.  And as you know, the 

18           state has a large Housing Plan, as does the 

19           city, but many municipalities around the 

20           state also spend a significant amount of 

21           their resources.  

22                  So I don't have an exact number but 

23           would be happy to talk more about that. 

24                  SENATOR MANNION:  And understanding 


 1           that and appreciate your answer, knowing 

 2           that, you know, I was not going to get a 

 3           number there, most likely.  

 4                  If you talk about the public dollars 

 5           versus private-sector development dollars, 

 6           can you without those specific numbers just 

 7           speak with your, you know, level of expertise 

 8           and professionalism about how do they compare 

 9           in the State of New York as far as public 

10           versus private for affordable housing?  

11                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I think this 

12           would hold true for the city as well, that we 

13           all leverage at least three times, if not 

14           more, public dollars to private dollars.

15                  SENATOR MANNION:  I appreciate that.  

16           Thank you for that information.  

17                  And appreciate your work today, 

18           Senator Krueger and Assemblymember Weinstein.  

19           Thank you.  

20                  Thank you, Commissioner.

21                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

22                  Assemblywoman.

23                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

24           Epstein, three minutes.


 1                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thank you, 

 2           Chair.  

 3                  And thank you, Commissioner, for all 

 4           your work.  And really I just want to applaud 

 5           your efforts on the accessory dwelling unit 

 6           language.  I think it's an important step to 

 7           deal with our affordable housing crisis.

 8                  And I know I only have three minutes, 

 9           but if we could just quickly -- I'd love to 

10           talk maybe more offline about the 421-a 

11           substitute program you put in.  I have some 

12           real reservations about it.  I don't think it 

13           gets us along the affordability path, and it 

14           costs a lot of money.  So I don't think 

15           it's -- while I understand this is a program 

16           that the Governor's proposed, I don't think 

17           it's actually a good substitute for 421-a.  

18                  I'm wondering if there's going to be 

19           an opportunity to have a back and forth, 

20           because I think we need a better plan, if we 

21           have any plan at all.

22                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Sure, I'd be 

23           happy to continue talking about that.

24                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Great.  And I 


 1           notice you didn't put Good Cause in the 

 2           budget.  And obviously Good Cause is an 

 3           important policy position because it protects 

 4           tenants.  You know, obviously rent increases 

 5           can continue to happen.  I'm wondering is 

 6           there any chance to talk more about 

 7           Good Cause in the context of the budget, 

 8           especially with a 30-day amendment?  

 9                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I think we 

10           feel that we've put together a, you know, 

11           sort of robust series of tools to address 

12           evictions, to address increasing our 

13           preservation efforts to make sure we're 

14           investing in the housing stock, creating new 

15           housing stock.  As I mentioned, the Eviction 

16           Prevention Legal assistance we think is a 

17           great tool for upstate.  We still have the 

18           Tenants Safe Harbor in place for people who 

19           are impacted.

20                  So I think we feel that we have a good 

21           set of policies here.  But obviously we're 

22           always open to working with the Legislature.  

23                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Well, great.  

24           I'm looking forward to those conversations as 


 1           well.  

 2                  I appreciate you putting in 

 3           electrification of the housing stock.  I 

 4           wondered, in that language, are you going to 

 5           require mandatory charging infrastructure 

 6           putting in place as well?

 7                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  For cars?

 8                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  For cars.  If -- 

 9           yeah, where there's parking lots.  We're 

10           going to need places for people to charge 

11           their vehicles, and I'm wondering if part of 

12           that requirement will be some mandatory 

13           electrification for charging stations.

14                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Yeah, 

15           Assemblyman, we've started to see those in 

16           many of our upstate budgets where we have 

17           more parking.  I don't think it's a 

18           requirement at the moment in our design 

19           guidelines, but we are working on a series of 

20           revisions based on the CLCPA recommendations, 

21           so happy to talk more about that.  

22                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Good.  I'd love 

23           to see you put those in if possible.  

24                  I know Assemblymember Cymbrowitz and 


 1           Senator Kavanagh talked about funding for 

 2           NYCHA, and I know there's nothing in the 

 3           budget.  I would encourage you to go back to 

 4           the Governor's office.  We need money for 

 5           NYCHA, whether we get money from Build Back 

 6           Better -- which I hope we do, and I know 

 7           we're all going to push for that.  

 8                  We need to support our public housing, 

 9           and as you know, this is something we're 

10           deeply committed to.  I hope we can get a 

11           commitment at least from the Governor's 

12           office to do something for public housing 

13           this year that isn't just focusing on a 

14           Preservation Trust.

15                  And then finally, in my last few 

16           minutes, you know, we have the condo/co-op 

17           tax abatement that's expiring this year.  And 

18           so especially on the higher end, we're giving 

19           away a lot of money for higher-income people 

20           that we could use for other sources.  And I'm 

21           wondering if there's been any conversations 

22           about kicking that back so at least the 

23           higher-end people who are getting $35,000, 

24           $40,000 a year in tax abatement, we can 


 1           recapture that money for public housing or 

 2           other affordable housing programs.

 3                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I'm not sure 

 4           that has come into our office as an ask, 

 5           although it may be in a --

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We're going 

 7           to --

 8                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  But happy to 

 9           talk about that.

10                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Okay, thank you.  

11           Thank you, Chair.

12                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We sent it back 

13           to the Senate.  

14                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

15                  State Senator Leroy Comrie is next.

16                  SENATOR COMRIE:  Thank you, Madam 

17           Chair.

18                  Good afternoon, Commissioner.  I 

19           wanted to ask you about the DHR and whether 

20           or not their computer technology has been 

21           improved at all, because we are getting a lot 

22           of complaints about the inability of folks on 

23           all sides to get a real update on whether or 

24           not their complaints have been registered or 


 1           their complaints are being followed through 

 2           on.  

 3                  And could you give us a sense of where 

 4           we are with upgrading the technology at DHR?  

 5                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Yes.  So we 

 6           have this very large transformation project.  

 7           We had previously been working with a vendor, 

 8           that vendor is no longer working with us, and 

 9           now we're working directly with ITS.  ITS 

10           obviously has been -- during the course of 

11           the COVID pandemic had a lot of technology 

12           platforms that they've been rolling out for a 

13           variety of pandemic-related needs.  But we 

14           continue to work with them.  

15                  I -- in the intervening year we have 

16           added parts of the system to come online 

17           around the Tenant Protection Unit and some 

18           legal tracking pieces of it, but we are not 

19           fully there yet on the whole.  And we don't 

20           have an exact timeline today for you, but I'm 

21           happy to follow up on that.

22                  SENATOR COMRIE:  Thank you.  Have you 

23           been able to fully expand the Tenant 

24           Protection Unit with the dollars that you 


 1           were given last year?   Or are you still 

 2           looking for --

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Senator Comrie, 

 4           I think you're unmuted.

 5                  SENATOR COMRIE:  I'm unmuted.  Hello, 

 6           can you hear me?

 7                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Yes.

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Oh, okay.  No, 

 9           sorry.  Okay, it was hard to hear.  Thank 

10           you.  

11                  SENATOR COMRIE:  I'm sorry, I'll talk 

12           louder.  

13                  Have you been able to fully staff up 

14           the Tenant Protection Unit now with the 

15           dollars?  

16                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Yes, we have 

17           25 staffers in that division.  The head of 

18           the unit, Greg Fewer, actually just recently 

19           retired, and we are in the process of 

20           bringing on a new head for that.  So -- but 

21           we are at full staff.

22                  SENATOR COMRIE:  Okay.  Also I 

23           represent a lot of homeowners, and I'm going 

24           to actually follow Senator Helming in her 


 1           request that we do more for homeowners to 

 2           make sure that they can get some relief, that 

 3           we do some tax credits and some tax relief 

 4           for homeowners.  

 5                  And also that we consider doing a 

 6           program for homeowners, small homeowners that 

 7           can't get to court because they're trying to 

 8           work four jobs to maintain their homes, 

 9           especially since they haven't gotten any 

10           relief for arrears in two years.  

11                  And I would hope that the Governor's 

12           office seriously looks at some programs where 

13           we do more for homeowners in this budget, 

14           especially since we're doing so much more for 

15           non-homeowners in the budget, and so we need 

16           some equality.  Thank you.

17                  I'll end my time.  Thank you, Madam 

18           Chair.

19                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

20                  Assembly.

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We next go to 

22           Assemblywoman Hyndman, I believe.

23                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN HYNDMAN:  Thank you, 

24           Chair Weinstein.


 1                  I have a couple of questions regarding 

 2           the amount of -- how long does it take to 

 3           process the MCIs that your office receives?  

 4           And the reason why I'm asking that is because 

 5           there's a huge amount of tenants that live in 

 6           the Zara buildings in Queens who have been 

 7           complaining that every time they get an 

 8           increase that it's because the owners are 

 9           telling them it's an MCI.  So that's my first 

10           question.  

11                  And is it self-reporting, and how do 

12           you investigate the validity of an MCI?  And 

13           also when it comes to the accessory dwelling 

14           units, you know, in Southeast Queens we have 

15           a large homeownership of black homeowners.  

16           And this has been talk amongst the civic 

17           associations, is that while we want to make 

18           sure that everyone has housing, just like my 

19           colleagues maybe in Nassau and Suffolk and 

20           upstate, when you talk about in single-family 

21           neighborhoods, there is a lot of pushback on 

22           changing the quality of life and so forth.  

23           We have a lot of basement apartments, we want 

24           them to be legal apartments but what we don't 


 1           want to see is an influx of backyards 

 2           becoming multifamily spaces.

 3                  And the same as it would be here, we'd 

 4           be worried about people would move after a 

 5           year once they realize they can get income 

 6           for that.

 7                  So those are my two questions.

 8                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Okay.  I 

 9           think I'll take the MCI one first.  We take 

10           the case processing of MCIs very seriously.  

11           It's not something we -- you know, we process 

12           it and review all the materials.  Owners are 

13           required to submit receipts and documents, 

14           and so -- and there is a fair amount of back 

15           and forth.  The tenants are noticed.  

16                  And so I would be happy to sort of 

17           follow up on the Zara buildings or any others 

18           on the MCIs there.  But we certainly do, you 

19           know, process those and take that seriously.  

20                  On the accessory dwelling units, what 

21           we have aimed to do with the proposed 

22           legislation in New York City is to give 

23           New York City some tools to create a pathway 

24           of amnesty for owners so that they can bring 


 1           those illegal apartments into compliance and 

 2           make sure that they are safe, without people 

 3           being penalized for having them in the first 

 4           place or for either owners or tenants being 

 5           afraid to even acknowledge that they live 

 6           there.

 7                  So what we tried to do there is really 

 8           less about creating new accessory dwelling 

 9           units and really trying to give the city some 

10           tools to take the ones that we know are 

11           there, but which are somewhat in the shadows 

12           by an actual sort of housing count for the 

13           city, and give them the ability to bring them 

14           into safety.

15                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN HYNDMAN:  So since I 

16           have 24 seconds left, with the amnesty for 

17           owners, is there any money provided with 

18           that?  

19                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So the city 

20           had had a program, I think maybe last year, 

21           that --

22                  (Overtalk.)

23                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN HYNDMAN:  Yeah, mm-hmm.

24                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  -- and we 


 1           have put in the state budget, in HCR's 

 2           capital budget, $85 million that could be for 

 3           accessory dwelling units, you know, as we see 

 4           sort of where the needs are for that.  So we 

 5           do have a funding source there.

 6                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN HYNDMAN:  Okay.  Thank 

 7           you, Commissioner.

 8                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Yup.

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

10                  Senator Zellnor Myrie.

11                  SENATOR MYRIE:  Thank you, Chair 

12           Krueger.  

13                  And thank you, Commissioner.  Thank 

14           you for working with our office on the 

15           Homeowner Assistance Fund.  We've held a 

16           number of events, and the office has been 

17           very helpful to us, and we hope that we can 

18           continue that partnership.

19                  I want to first associate myself with 

20           the comments made by my colleagues as relates 

21           to 421-a.  You know, I am not fully convinced 

22           that the replacement proposed by the budget 

23           really extends true affordability, 

24           particularly for neighborhoods like the ones 


 1           that I represent.  And so I would urge us to 

 2           reconsider that.

 3                  And also urge our policymakers to 

 4           consider that our property tax system in 

 5           New York City is very jacked up -- I think 

 6           that's the legal term -- and that makes it I 

 7           think necessary for us to subsidize 

 8           affordable housing the way that we do.

 9                  My one question is on the $50 million 

10           that is proposed by the Governor for 

11           affordable homeownership opportunities that 

12           prioritizes residential control.  It doesn't 

13           specify what that looks like.  A number of us 

14           have proposals -- I have a proposal, the 

15           Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, that is a 

16           specific type of residential control 

17           providing opportunities particularly for 

18           Black and brown folks in our communities that 

19           have not had a path to homeownership.  

20                  I'm wondering if this is what is 

21           envisioned in the budget.  If not, is it 

22           CLTs, is it some mix of TOPA, CLTs?  And if 

23           you could just talk to us more about that.

24                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So what we 


 1           tried to do in the budget was sort of carve 

 2           out a little bit of space and dollars to be 

 3           able to fund sort of specifically kind of all 

 4           the -- you know, whether it's a CLT model or 

 5           a limited equity co-op model or something 

 6           like that, to allow folks to bring us those 

 7           projects and to sort of have a set-aside of 

 8           dollars to look at governance, look at 

 9           permanent affordability, be able to do some 

10           of those projects.

11                  So I think it's, you know, a little 

12           bit of all of the above.  We envision it as a 

13           new construction, as a new creation, a 

14           program.  But I think we're going to be 

15           pretty open from a -- assuming it gets passed 

16           in the budget, be pretty open to what we get.

17                  SENATOR MYRIE:  Thank you very much.  

18           I cede the rest of my time.

19                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

20                  Assembly.

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go next to 

22           Assemblywoman Jackson.

23                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN JACKSON:  Thank you, 

24           Chair.  


 1                  Thank you, Commissioner.  I just have 

 2           a few quick questions.  

 3                  When it comes to Black homeownership 

 4           and brown homeownership, we know that the 

 5           numbers have been down historically and we 

 6           would love to see -- I just wanted to know 

 7           what support are we giving to people to own 

 8           their home, finally.  

 9                  When it comes to NYCHA, I have to 

10           listen to my residents.  They do not trust 

11           the trust.  So we need to know what kind of 

12           funding, if any, or what kind of help, 

13           assistance can we offer NYCHA at this point.  

14           Mitchell-Lama makes it easy for young people 

15           and people who are middle-to-lower income to 

16           own a home.  And so I would love to know what 

17           if anything we are doing for our 

18           Mitchell-Lamas.  

19                  And if you have any idea on short-term 

20           rentals in the city so that people can find 

21           another way of creating income for themselves 

22           in the city.  

23                  So Black homeownership, NYCHA funding, 

24           Mitchell-Lamas, and short-term rentals.


 1                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Okay.  I'll 

 2           try my best here.

 3                  So on NYCHA, you know, I understood 

 4           we -- there are -- you know, we believe that 

 5           we want to give NYCHA as many tools as we can 

 6           to be successful.  And so we are just 

 7           continuing to work with the city 

 8           administration on the trust.

 9                  I think as it relates to short-term 

10           rentals and income for people -- and I don't 

11           know if this is what you mean, but I think we 

12           are hopeful that with the accessory dwelling 

13           legislation in the city that that will allow 

14           people to take units that are not legal and 

15           make them legal and make them safe for 

16           tenants who live there, because we do 

17           understand that obviously that provides 

18           income for the homeowners who have those 

19           accessory dwelling units, the basement 

20           apartments or the attic apartments.

21                  And then I think on Black 

22           homeownership and Mitchell-Lama -- obviously 

23           we have a fixed amount of Mitchell-Lamas in 

24           the city right now, and we work very hard to 


 1           make sure that they can stay in the program, 

 2           that they can stay in good repair.

 3                  I do think that what Senator Myrie was 

 4           just asking, about this effort that we have 

 5           around putting some funding aside for new 

 6           models of homeownership like a Mitchell-Lama 

 7           structure or a limited equity in a co-op 

 8           structure, we're really excited to start 

 9           doing more of those and really want to get at 

10           the supply side of this and make sure that 

11           there are houses for people to buy that are 

12           affordable.  

13                  And we have tried -- as I talked about 

14           a little bit before, we launched last year 

15           the Give Us Credit program, which looked at 

16           places where we saw Black homeowners getting 

17           rejected at double the rate of white 

18           homeowners, holding constant for income 

19           around the state.  And we've gone into all 

20           those, about 33 places around the state, and 

21           we are making sure that people are aware of 

22           our SONYMA mortgage program, we are making 

23           sure that people understand what their 

24           opportunities are, they have financial 


 1           literacy, and really trying to -- you know, 

 2           the Black homeownership rate in New York is 

 3           no better than it is in the rest of the 

 4           country, and it's not good.  

 5                  And so we are hopeful that a series of 

 6           tools both on the mortgage side as well as on 

 7           the supply side will help make a dent in 

 8           that.

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

10                  We go to the Senate.  Perfect timing.  

11                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

12                  Senator Pete Harckham.

13                  SENATOR HARCKHAM:  Thank you very 

14           much, Madam Chair.  

15                  Commissioner, it is always great to 

16           see you.  Thank you for your testimony.  I 

17           want to thank you and the Governor for the 

18           $85 million in the capital plan to support 

19           accessory dwelling units.  That's a big step 

20           forward for making them safe and bringing 

21           them out of the shadows.  

22                  I don't want to talk about ADUs, but 

23           I'm going to talk about ADUs for a second, in 

24           that there is a tremendous amount of 


 1           misinformation.  Some of it's purposeful, and 

 2           that's fine, it's an election year.  But if 

 3           people really want to know about the ADU 

 4           bills, please, call my office, call me, call 

 5           Assemblyman Epstein.  We address many, many, 

 6           many concerns of the municipalities in the A 

 7           print.  So please give us a call if you 

 8           really want to have a fact-based conversation 

 9           about ADUs.  

10                  What I want to talk to you about, 

11           Commissioner -- we had spoken about this 

12           briefly -- we need to find a way in our 

13           capital plan to do something around recovery 

14           housing.  Part of our substance use disorder 

15           crisis is people come out of treatment and 

16           they have nowhere to go to in their early 

17           recovery.  They're either going back to 

18           dangerous environments, they're going to 

19           shelters, or they're going to badly 

20           unregulated, unsafe environments.

21                  So, you know, OASAS is not in the 

22           housing business, you're not in the recovery 

23           business, but we need to find a way to marry 

24           the two of you because we lose so many people 


 1           to relapse and overdose in those early phases 

 2           of recovery because they don't have safe and 

 3           stable housing.

 4                  So I just wanted to put that plug in 

 5           your ear.  I know we've briefly spoken about 

 6           it.  But if that's something you can put on 

 7           your work list, I'd greatly appreciate it.

 8                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Yes, happy 

 9           to.  We understand it's a real issue around 

10           the state.

11                  SENATOR HARCKHAM:  All right, 

12           terrific.  Thanks so much.

13                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

14                  Assembly.  

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

16           Assemblywoman Rosenthal.  

17                  Linda, are you here?  She might have 

18           needed to step away.  

19                  So is Assemblywoman Seawright -- I see 

20           Rebecca.  Why don't you go ahead, and we'll 

21           find Rosenthal.

22                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN SEAWRIGHT:  Okay, thank 

23           you, Chairwoman.  

24                  Thank you, Commissioner, for your 


 1           testimony.  

 2                  I have Roosevelt Island in my 

 3           district, and I'm starting to receive more 

 4           and more letters from constituents in 

 5           Westview.  As you know, it went through a 

 6           conversion from a modified Mitchell-Lama with 

 7           an offering plan to purchase.  And some of 

 8           the tenants have expressed a desire to 

 9           purchase and are being told due to succession 

10           rights they're not allowed to, even though 

11           their name is on the purchasing agreement.  

12                  So if we could have someone from your 

13           office work with the tenants to review these 

14           claims that I'm getting, that would be 

15           helpful.

16                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Yes, happy 

17           to.

18                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN SEAWRIGHT:  And then 

19           also with -- it's been reported that 

20           landlords are asking for 50, 60, 70 percent 

21           increases post-pandemic and that people are 

22           moving out because they can't afford to rent.

23                  How many New Yorkers are displaced 

24           each year due to rent hikes, would you say?


 1                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I don't know 

 2           that there's a good data source for 

 3           displacement, but certainly I'm happy to sort 

 4           of talk more about that.

 5                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN SEAWRIGHT:  Thank you.

 6                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  And on 

 7           Westview, happy to follow up.  As you know, 

 8           we spent many, many, many hours negotiating 

 9           that to try to get a good outcome, so we're 

10           happy to follow up and make sure we get what 

11           we all fought for.

12                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN SEAWRIGHT:  Great.  

13           Appreciate your attention to it.  Thank you.

14                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Yeah, 

15           mm-hmm.

16                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Back to the 

17           Senate.

18                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Senator Hoylman.

19                  SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Hi.  Thank you, 

20           Madam Chair.  Good to see you, Commissioner.

21                  Commissioner, just wanted to thank you 

22           for your -- thank you for the support of 

23           transit-oriented development and accessory 

24           dwelling units.  


 1                  I note in the Governor's State of the 

 2           State that there's a pilot program to create 

 3           affordable homeownership projects that 

 4           prioritize resident control and permanent 

 5           affordability.  She mentions it, you know, 

 6           comparing it to Mitchell-Lama and limited 

 7           equity co-ops, shared equity housing and 

 8           community land trusts.  It's all very 

 9           exciting.  Especially for my district, where 

10           we have development possibilities around 

11           Penn Station and the former Bayview Prison 

12           for Women.

13                  Could you shed some more light on what 

14           that might look like in the final budget?  I 

15           see it under the $5.2 billion proposal for 

16           creation of a five-year Housing Plan.  Is 

17           that what the Governor referenced to -- in 

18           terms of a new Mitchell-Lama program?  

19                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So the -- 

20           we, as I said before, sort of tried to make 

21           some space and some -- both sort of in the 

22           verbiage, but also attaching money would be 

23           within our homeownership -- we have sort of a 

24           new funding line this year, or a funding line 


 1           that's much bigger than it had been 

 2           previously, to provide for homeownership.  

 3                  And so our thought is to keep it 

 4           fairly flexible and to be able to go out with 

 5           sort of a request for proposals that people 

 6           could bring us, whether it's, you know, a CLT 

 7           or a limited equity co-op or whatever the 

 8           version of that that the affordable housing 

 9           community brings sort of based on location.

10                  So we're fairly flexible on that.  I 

11           think we're looking for, you know, creative 

12           ideas and great projects that we can fund.

13                  SENATOR HOYLMAN:  And will that be 

14           through an RFP?  And when is that likely to 

15           be issued?  

16                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Well, we 

17           need the budget to pass.  So as soon as we do 

18           that, we would -- you know, as a series of -- 

19           I think as we roll out different programs 

20           after the budget passes, we would, you know, 

21           put this at the top of our list of things 

22           that we would try to get out in an RFP and 

23           give people a couple of months to pull some 

24           responses together, and then we would review 


 1           them and then award and sort of in a regular 

 2           sort of RFP timing.  

 3                  So we think it could happen fairly 

 4           quickly.

 5                  SENATOR HOYLMAN:  And is this a direct 

 6           investment in housing or does it involve a 

 7           tax credit model?  

 8                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I mean I 

 9           think we would be open to, you know, what 

10           people bring us.  Most of our tax credit 

11           models are rooted in rentals, you know, 

12           whether it's 9 percent or 4 percent.  So I 

13           think for our homeownership program we're 

14           probably going to be doing something that's 

15           not tax credits but that doesn't diminish its 

16           ability to get done in any way.  I think we 

17           would look at the proposals that people bring 

18           us.

19                  SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Good.  Thank you.  

20           I'm excited for the sites in my district.  

21           Thank you so much.  

22                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

23           Rosenthal, we found you.

24                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Yes.  Thank 


 1           you.  I was on two Zooms simultaneously.  

 2           It's not a good strategy.  Anyway, thank you.  

 3                  Hello, Commissioner.  How are you?  I 

 4           have some questions.  The first question has 

 5           to do with 421-a.  What about if all the tax 

 6           credit funding we will -- tax credit revenue 

 7           we will lose over the years just be set 

 8           aside, just let us give tax credits on the 

 9           affordable.  Or let us do the building, let 

10           us do the construction, and it will save 

11           billions of dollars that have been lost.

12                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I would say 

13           a couple of things.  Obviously market 

14           developers are going to build sites in the 

15           city.  

16                  We saw, in the last version of the 

17           program, that 60 to 70 percent of the 

18           buildings that were built through 421-a were 

19           less than 50 units and many of them were less 

20           than 30 units.  So there's a lot of outer 

21           borough construction that happens by the 

22           market.

23                  We think it's important that 

24           affordability get included in those 


 1           developments as they get built.  In the 

 2           absence of the tax exemption, those, you 

 3           know, 8,000 or 10,000 units a year that get 

 4           built would be 100 percent market rate and we 

 5           wouldn't have any affordability.  So the tax 

 6           exemption -- 

 7                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Okay, but 

 8           why -- why don't we directly finance 

 9           construction of new affordable housing or 

10           HAVP or another Section 8-type voucher?  And 

11           I also don't want to lose time, so that's one 

12           question.

13                  My other important question is who 

14           oversees 421-a?  There seems to be no 

15           enforcement.  Landlords get away with not 

16           renting out units, still getting their tax 

17           credits.  It's really -- HPD says HCR, HCR 

18           says HPD.  There's no coordination, it seems, 

19           and we are losing out.  Landlords harass 

20           people out, they don't rent out the units 

21           properly, and there's no supervision of 421-a 

22           as far as a lot of us can see.

23                  My other question is, what happened to 

24           the TPU?  Is that -- I haven't heard those 


 1           three letters in a long time.  And are 

 2           they -- how are they operating?  

 3                  And I know someone asked you about 

 4           Good Cause.  It's been implemented in a 

 5           handful of counties, and it does seem to be 

 6           something that is protective of tenants while 

 7           allowing landlords to increase the rent.

 8                  And I would love to see more advocacy 

 9           coming out of your shop in terms of 

10           protecting tenants, because the Safe Harbor 

11           Act is not enough.  And it won't be 

12           long-term.

13                  So those are my three basic areas.

14                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I would say, 

15           on Good Cause, we feel that we've put 

16           together a series of programs and policy 

17           tools in the budget to address evictions and 

18           to address affordable housing production.  

19                  I think on the -- having mentioned 

20           TPU, you probably were on your other Zoom.  

21           Senator Comrie asked me about the Tenant 

22           Protection Unit, which is fully staffed and 

23           has -- recently the head of the TPU retired, 

24           and we are just about to bring on a new 


 1           person.  So they are alive and well.

 2                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Okay.  Okay, 

 3           good.

 4                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  And I would 

 5           say on 421-a, to your question about why 

 6           can't we just subsidize all those units, I 

 7           think the question is that -- or the issue 

 8           would be that those buildings would get 

 9           built, they would just get built as a 

10           100 percent market-rate building and we would 

11           lose the opportunity to get affordability 

12           into neighborhoods around the city as it gets 

13           built.

14                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  No, no, not 

15           have them -- not have them build it.

16                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

17           Thank you --

18                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN ROSENTHAL:  Well, we can 

19           talk more offline.  But also, who supervises 

20           421-a?

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We're going to 

22           turn it back to the Senate now.  

23                  Senator Krueger.

24                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Yes, I'm afraid 


 1           Linda asked way too many questions to be fit 

 2           into that.

 3                  Senator Boyle.

 4                  SENATOR BOYLE:  Thank you, Madam 

 5           Chair.  Thank you, Commissioner.

 6                  Just two quick questions, one 

 7           regarding the reduction in the registration 

 8           of rental units, regulated rental units 

 9           between 2020 and 2021.  It basically went 

10           down from about 950,000 to 886,000.  Do you 

11           know what accounted for that reduction?

12                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I'm sorry, 

13           it's a little bit hard to hear you.  Oh, 

14           there you go.  Now I can see you too.

15                  We -- no, I'm happy to sort of follow 

16           up with you.  We can go through some of the 

17           data on the registrations.  You know, we are 

18           very active with our registration initiative 

19           to make sure that we are looking at units 

20           that aren't getting registered year over 

21           year, and are pretty proactive there.  So 

22           happy to follow up with you on that.

23                  SENATOR BOYLE:  Okay, wonderful.

24                  And the only other thing is more of a 


 1           comment than a question.  But accessory 

 2           dwelling units, in my area, are going over 

 3           like a lead balloon.  I associate myself with 

 4           Assemblyman Lawler's idea.  If they're going 

 5           to be a carrot program, fine.  You know, but 

 6           leave it up to the localities.  My phone has 

 7           literally been ringing off the hook.  The 

 8           localities are very concerned about losing 

 9           their constitutionally guaranteed 

10           jurisdiction.  

11                  And not to say it's not a decent idea 

12           down the road, but we need to do it very 

13           carefully.  And a one-size-fits-all statewide 

14           mandate would not be a good thing.  But 

15           that's -- we can continue that discussion.  

16                  Thank you, Commissioner.

17                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

18                  We go to Assemblyman Burdick.

19                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Thank you.  

20                  And first, Commissioner, thank you for 

21           the great work that you're doing and moving 

22           ahead with the five-year capital plan.

23                  I'll get all of my questions out at 

24           once, and if you're unable to get to all of 


 1           the answers, perhaps if they could be 

 2           provided later.

 3                  I commend you on pressing for the new 

 4           five-year capital plan for 100,000 affordable 

 5           housing units.  Wondering whether higher 

 6           goals and funding levels might be possible if 

 7           Build Back Better comes through, perhaps the 

 8           30-day amendment.  

 9                  Also delighted to see the 60 million 

10           for the small building program.  Would like 

11           to get a sense of how many units that might 

12           create and how the funds would be 

13           distributed.

14                  I also wanted to heartily agree with 

15           Senator Harckham regarding the need for 

16           housing for those recovering from addiction.  

17           And related to that, I'd like to ask about 

18           transitional housing, which we discussed at 

19           the committee's hearing last year on the 

20           five-year capital plan.  And would you 

21           support a dedicated funding stream for 

22           transitional housing for those released from 

23           our correctional facilities, like the 

24           dedicated funding stream for supportive 


 1           housing?

 2                  Legal representation for eviction 

 3           cases program, I'm cosponsor of the Assembly 

 4           bill and delighted to see that being created.  

 5           I understand from answers you gave before 

 6           that the funds will be distributed to legal 

 7           services providers.  Wondering if we could 

 8           get a listing.

 9                  And finally, you mentioned people with 

10           special needs.  May I assume that this 

11           includes people with disabilities?

12                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  That was a 

13           lot.

14                  (Laughter.)

15                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Yes, we -- 

16           what I heard last, maybe going in reverse 

17           order, yes, we do a lot of work with OPWDD, 

18           who serves a highly special-needs population, 

19           as well as some of the other state agencies, 

20           and continue really great partnerships with 

21           those agencies to integrate those populations 

22           into the housing we do.

23                  Yes, on legal representation, I 

24           think -- happy to follow up with you on the 


 1           organizations.  

 2                  On transitional housing, since this 

 3           had come up before I think I would say this 

 4           is probably really something for HCR and OTDA 

 5           and the Office of Criminal Justice Services 

 6           to work on together.  

 7                  We, you know, primarily are creators 

 8           of permanent housing, not regulators of 

 9           permanent housing, and I think much of the 

10           transitional housing may be a little bit more 

11           in the purview of OTDA.  But we can work on 

12           breaking down some sort of silos and I think 

13           work between HCR and OTDA and OC -- I forget 

14           their acronym -- on that issue.  It's an 

15           important one, and we understand the -- we 

16           have tried to incorporate a lot of policy 

17           changes for people who have been involved in 

18           the criminal justice system into our 

19           programs, so we're certainly sensitive to 

20           that issue.

21                  Thank you on small buildings.  Happy 

22           to circle back with you on our production 

23           there.

24                  And I can't remember what your Housing 


 1           Plan question was, because --

 2                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  The last one was 

 3           if there's money from Build Back Better, 

 4           would you do a 30-day amendment?  

 5                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Oh, yes, 

 6           sorry.  Yes, certainly.  We were really 

 7           hopeful for that for a while, and it didn't 

 8           happen.  But the two changes, both the 

 9           expansion of the 9 percent credit and the -- 

10           what's called the reduction of the 50 percent 

11           test, would be very big policy changes or 

12           tools for us to expand our production.

13                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Thank you so 

14           much.  

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

16                  Back to the Senate.

17                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  I 

18           think it's down to me in the Senate.

19                  Hi, Commissioner.  Thank you for all 

20           your work and the work of your agency.

21                  So many questions.  Let's see.  And I 

22           actually get 10 minutes, but hopefully won't 

23           use them all.

24                  Going to supportive housing, which 


 1           many people brought up, I think there's been 

 2           a frustration during the Cuomo administration 

 3           that there were promises for more supportive 

 4           than we actually saw ever getting built.  Are 

 5           we going to speed up the process by which 

 6           money can go out the door to help these 

 7           buildings get either retrofitted or built and 

 8           open?  

 9                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So we 

10           committed during the first five years to 

11           6,000 units.  We've fully financed 6,000 

12           units and a little more.  Those were both 

13           ESSHI units as well as, you know, old, like, 

14           New York/New York III contracts and things 

15           rolling up.  

16                  So I think for us and OTDA, through 

17           their HHAP program, I think we would be happy 

18           to come back to you to say we feel like 

19           we've -- that the -- as part of the 20, we 

20           did the first six.  We are now, in this 

21           Housing Plan, committed to 7,000 over the 

22           course of the five years and are adding to 

23           that, at the request of advocates, 

24           additionally 3,000 units of preservation, 


 1           because obviously we can't be losing existing 

 2           supportive housing and just be building new.  

 3           So we will be, at their request -- which we 

 4           agree with the goal, obviously -- having a 

 5           10,000 unit total goal for this five-year 

 6           Housing Plan of the combination of the new.

 7                  So we are, you know, sort of all-in on 

 8           supportive housing and understand the great 

 9           need there.

10                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Great.  Because 

11           every community, you know, needs a 

12           special-needs -- mentally ill, substance 

13           abusing, people coming out of prison, 

14           everybody.  So great.  

15                  I am not a fan of 421-a -- that's not 

16           news to you -- so I'm not a fan of this 

17           version either.  But I just want to 

18           double-check.  One of my concerns has -- you 

19           do address by bringing down the affordability 

20           definition of AMI to something closer to what 

21           people can actually pay.

22                  My concern is that -- I think it was 

23           Linda Rosenthal's earlier point -- no one's 

24           really cross-checking, and everybody who's 


 1           like big in real estate is smart enough to 

 2           game the system.  So what I see in my 

 3           district, and I think it's true on the West 

 4           Side of Manhattan, you buy up a block but you 

 5           don't buy it up as big developer ABC, you get 

 6           front people to buy up each little building.  

 7           Then suddenly one day it's a giant 

 8           development announced for 421-a.  And so then 

 9           it's a 421-a building that has fewer, 

10           less-affordable units than the number of 

11           units that existed when you had half a dozen 

12           small buildings on that block.  

13                  And I talk about that as gaming the 

14           system because then they also claim that 

15           they're using mandatory affordable 

16           inclusionary zoning and they're double-gaming 

17           it that way.

18                  So why should we keep spending 

19           taxpayer dollars and just keep getting gamed 

20           by people in real estate who are apparently 

21           smarter at this than we are?  And can we 

22           protect ourselves?  I don't see anything in 

23           the new program that would protect us from 

24           those two storylines.


 1                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I mean, I 

 2           think in those cases you're getting overall 

 3           more housing than you may have started with 

 4           even if your affordability is going down, 

 5           although I don't know the specifics of 

 6           different -- of those different -- of sites.  

 7                  I think we have tried here to -- and 

 8           developers are going to build in the city, 

 9           and we need more housing in the city, so we 

10           need people to be building.  We are, you 

11           know, as I mentioned before, very behind on 

12           our production relative to our population 

13           growth and job growth.  

14                  So we think that the production of 

15           rental housing is important.  As I said, we 

16           have reduced the AMIs, which we think is an 

17           improvement.  We have made the affordability 

18           permanent so that it's not expiring at the 

19           end of 35 years or at the end of a regulatory 

20           agreement.  We think that's important.  We 

21           are -- we have added some additional 

22           reporting into the bill to get us some more 

23           transparency around the program.  

24                  So we think it's an important 


 1           production tool so that we don't have a city 

 2           where only condos and market-rate rentals are 

 3           built.

 4                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  So I like very 

 5           much people using the term "Mitchell-Lama" as 

 6           if it's a new program to be started again, 

 7           because that would be nice.

 8                  But one of the things we learned about 

 9           Mitchell-Lama, we can't let you out of it 

10           25 years later.  And we can't let the 

11           Mitchell-Lama cooperatives lose their 

12           affordability because people see it as voting 

13           themselves out and then getting a pile of 

14           gold at the end of the time frame that 

15           they've lived there.

16                  So can you assure me that those two 

17           protections will be built into this program?

18                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Into our 

19           pilot for -- yeah, I mean, we're -- for the 

20           pilot specifically, we're looking for, you 

21           know, innovative governance structure.  So 

22           like, as we sort of said, around whether 

23           that's land trusts or around limited equity 

24           co-ops or things which would be sort of 


 1           aligned with the Mitchell-Lama.  

 2                  And they are going to be permanently 

 3           affordable, sort of is the way we've 

 4           constructed that pilot.  So I think that will 

 5           solve some of those, you know, problems that 

 6           are in all housing that has an exit time for 

 7           its affordability.

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Okay.  In the 

 9           Governor's proposal for the transit-oriented 

10           building, how come she doesn't talk about any 

11           affordability requirements for that kind of 

12           housing?

13                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So I think 

14           there we are trying to break down, you know, 

15           single-family zoning in areas that are 

16           transit-rich and where there's a lot of 

17           investment.  So I don't think it precludes 

18           localities from including that themselves.  

19           It was really an effort to just get at the 

20           supply side of housing as a first step.

21                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Although if I 

22           listen to some of my suburban colleagues and 

23           their concerns about accessory housing, I 

24           think they would be better off supporting 


 1           transit-oriented development by their train 

 2           stations where you're starting from scratch, 

 3           so you're not violating anybody's believed 

 4           control, and affordable housing near rail 

 5           stations, so that you don't need cars to get 

 6           into New York City for jobs, is a wonderful 

 7           model.

 8                  So I would just encourage you to think 

 9           about factoring in affordability there.

10                  FAR 12.  FAR 10 has created a monster 

11           in Manhattan -- East Side, West Side, bottom 

12           of Manhattan, everything south of 96th 

13           Street.  We have super-talls that are 

14           1100 feet competing with super-talls going up 

15           to them that are 1300 feet.  The density 

16           situation is beyond comprehension.  There is 

17           no place to walk on the sidewalks.  There is 

18           no sun or light, there are no park spaces.  

19           Why the hell would we want to give anybody 

20           more FAR unless you say, You can't use it in 

21           the densely-overdeveloped areas of Manhattan?

22                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So the 

23           proposal here is really to give the city 

24           control over that.  As you know, the 


 1           restriction lives in the state MDL and the 

 2           city can't change that.  So -- and the -- you 

 3           know, my understanding is the new 

 4           administration is supportive of creative ways 

 5           to get more housing built in the city to deal 

 6           with the affordability crisis and the 

 7           overcrowding crisis that we have.

 8                  So this doesn't change the zoning as 

 9           much as it gives the city control over where 

10           it chooses to increase residential density 

11           across the city.

12                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  So just for the 

13           record, I didn't trust the last 

14           administration on this issue, and I don't 

15           trust the new administration on this issue 

16           either.  Everybody keeps seeming to say, 

17           Fine, we don't care if Manhattan Island 

18           becomes Dubai or Singapore.  Those of us who 

19           live there do care whether it becomes Dubai 

20           or Singapore, and we don't want to be living 

21           in those cities.

22                  So I'm going to continue to argue 

23           strenuously against just an open-ended FAR 

24           expansion.


 1                  Last point.  So you answered a 

 2           question before about the NYCHA Trust, about 

 3           you're still looking at it.  I understand 

 4           that there are tenants who are worried.  But 

 5           I am far more worried that we're never going 

 6           to see the money to rebuild NYCHA the way we 

 7           need to.  Build It Back Better is like all of 

 8           our dream mantras -- but do we think there's 

 9           going to be 40 billion for public housing for 

10           New York City?  I'm too cynical and too old 

11           for that.  

12                  Can you help me understand what we 

13           have to make sure is in there for us to be 

14           comfortable as a state that we're not selling 

15           NYCHA down the river in some unexpected way 

16           if we support the trust?  Because I actually 

17           think it is the right thing to do at this 

18           point in history.

19                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I mean, it's 

20           complex to do in a minute and 21 seconds.  

21           But for sure, I think NYCHA has spent an 

22           enormous amount of time trying to build in 

23           protections for the underlying land, for 

24           control, for should anything go wrong and the 


 1           ability to cure.  You know, in the case of 

 2           RAD where the buildings were in fact 

 3           transferred to a private entity, this gets 

 4           rid of that.  Right?  The NYCHA trust is a 

 5           public entity, and so it maintains public 

 6           control.  

 7                  So I think that NYCHA has tried to 

 8           work very hard to get those assurances.  

 9           Obviously they are complex and as you had -- 

10           in the legislative text, you know, you can 

11           see sort of the complexity there.  But I do 

12           think it's something that needs to be on the 

13           table.

14                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Okay.  Thank you 

15           very much.  

16                  Assemblywoman, thank you.  And the 

17           Senate is done.

18                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  We go to 

19           Assemblywoman Walker.  Assemblywoman Walker, 

20           are you here?

21                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN WALKER:  Yup.  Hi.  

22           Sorry about that.  Okay.  A lot happening at 

23           the same time, as we can all imagine.

24                  So thank you so much for your 


 1           testimony.  I just wanted to ask about -- 

 2           with the supportive housing, we've been 

 3           talking about transitional housing for 

 4           reentry housing.  I did see something in the 

 5           budget, it was $2.5 million increase, but 

 6           only for housing for 90 days.  

 7                  We do have a pilot project that we're 

 8           working on with -- in my district.  Also in 

 9           Syracuse there was a project.  So I was just 

10           wondering what the budget's commitment was to 

11           reentry housing there.

12                  With the Affordable Housing 

13           Corporation, we had an increase from $40,000 

14           to $75,000, which was just signed into law by 

15           Governor Hochul, a subsidy for -- 40,000 to 

16           75,000 that was subsidy for each unit.

17                  I was wondering, did we put the money 

18           in the budget in order to support that 

19           increase from 40,000 to 75,000?

20                  I do want to submit comments for -- 

21           that many of my colleagues have made about 

22           public housing.  Of course I have 29 NYCHA 

23           developments in my district, so I would 

24           rather take the trust out of the budget, 


 1           because there are a lot of other issues that 

 2           we should be dealing with in there that maybe 

 3           we need to talk about on another level.  So 

 4           if we can pull that out and deal with that 

 5           post-budget, I would appreciate it.

 6                  And -- I think that was it for me.  So 

 7           reentry housing, affordable housing program 

 8           increase in the subsidy, public housing.  And 

 9           then also I will submit my comments to those 

10           who spoke about the problems with 421-a and 

11           if we can deal with those outside of the 

12           budget as well.

13                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So on AHC, 

14           we do not do a budget increase to accommodate 

15           that, but can continue to work on that 

16           through the budget process.

17                  I think on the NYCHA Trust, you know, 

18           I hear you, obviously it's a complicated 

19           proposal and not -- it doesn't have 

20           widespread support across the Legislature.  

21           It does obviously provide resources to NYCHA 

22           that they otherwise can't access, which we 

23           all know is important.  But happy to continue 

24           talking about that.


 1                  On reentry, I'm not totally sure what 

 2           the funding there was, although we do have 

 3           funding -- we made two big policy changes 

 4           which actually no one has asked so much about 

 5           yet, so if I could take a second on that -- 

 6           which was to require landlords that you can't 

 7           just reject people for their criminal justice 

 8           history or their credit history.  Those are 

 9           two things that largely impact people of 

10           color, they largely impact domestic violence 

11           survivors, and we want landlords to not be 

12           able to just bright-line reject people for 

13           those.  

14                  So we've put some funding in the 

15           budget to make sure that people are aware 

16           that landlords have to sort of consider them 

17           as a whole person and not just based on a 

18           student or medical debt or a criminal history 

19           that may have happened a very long time ago.

20                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN WALKER:  Awesome.  I 

21           just would like for the state to be their 

22           landlord, and let's do some reentry housing.  

23                  And then of course we can discuss Ella 

24           McQueen, which was a former juvenile 


 1           detention facility, in terms of it being in 

 2           your capital plan.

 3                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Okay.  Yes, 

 4           happy to work with that.

 5                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  To the Senate.

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  We have Senator 

 7           Kavanagh for his second round, three minutes.

 8                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Okay.  I would be 

 9           willing to go after the remaining 

10           Assemblymembers.

11                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Oh, I did not see 

12           Senator Brisport.  Pardon me, Senator 

13           Brisport.  Excuse me.

14                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  I'm happy to go 

15           after him too.

16                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Oh, thank you.  

17                  And Senator O'Mara.  Everybody is 

18           jumping in.  All right.  

19                  So let's call Senator Brisport, just 

20           because I saw him first, and then we'll go to 

21           Senator O'Mara next round.  Thank you.  

22                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Thank you, 

23           Senator Krueger.  And thank you, 

24           Commissioner, for taking part in this 


 1           marathon. 

 2                  My first question is about NYCHA, just 

 3           because I'm just noticing -- and it's been 

 4           said before, there is a removal of 

 5           $200 million in capital funding for NYCHA.  

 6           There is also, in this proposal, $2.2 billion 

 7           in tax credits for homeowners.  And to me, 

 8           this budget proposal reads as a shift in 

 9           priorities and funding from public tenants to 

10           private homeowners.

11                  So it's been said before, you know, 

12           many of my colleagues agree, we don't think 

13           Build Back Better is coming.

14                  I'm curious, if the Senate Legislature 

15           includes state funding for NYCHA in our 

16           one-house budgets, will you or the Governor 

17           oppose that in three-way negotiations?  Would 

18           you oppose state funding of NYCHA?

19                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I can't 

20           speak for what the Governor will do.  But as 

21           you all heard her say in her very first days 

22           in office, she is very focused on NYCHA.  

23                  I would just clarify that we didn't 

24           remove funding for NYCHA.  That funding is 


 1           still there and available for them to use.  

 2           This is funding for, you know, capital 

 3           repairs that has been appropriated over 

 4           different periods of time and is subject to 

 5           NYCHA and DASNY sort of working out an MOU 

 6           for how that money is spent, and largely it's 

 7           on boilers and elevators and very much needed 

 8           capital repair.  

 9                  So that money is still there and 

10           available, it just wasn't -- wasn't -- there 

11           is not additional new funding this year.  But 

12           certainly open to continuing that discussion.

13                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Thank you.

14                  And then my second question is about 

15           the new -- you know, the 421-a remix.  

16           Specifically, Option C, which is the 

17           homeownership option for the buyers who make 

18           up to 130 percent of AMI.  I just want to 

19           note that the majority of people in New York 

20           City make less than 130 percent of AMI, and I 

21           was curious if there was thought given to 

22           what neighborhoods you think developers might 

23           target for this Option C.  

24                  And is there any fear that this 


 1           Option C would subsidize the construction and 

 2           purchase of wealthy and expensive condos in 

 3           poorer neighborhoods?  

 4                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So I think 

 5           the goal with this -- and it doesn't 

 6           necessarily come through in the statute -- 

 7           was really to drive at the production of 

 8           affordable homeownership opportunities in the 

 9           City of New York.  There had been a 

10           homeownership program, but in the last 

11           edition of the program it was not 

12           means-tested.  And this is really meant to 

13           get at 100 percent affordable buildings, 

14           regulated by regulatory agreements either 

15           with the State of New York or the City of 

16           New York, that are 100 percent affordable.  

17                  You know, a three-family household at 

18           130 AMI makes maybe $140,000.  Households at 

19           that income are largely, you know, shut out, 

20           for the most part, of market-rate 

21           homeownership.  And I think the average sale 

22           of a Brooklyn home is $750,000; in Manhattan 

23           I think it was a million or maybe even more.  

24           And so housing opportunities at $400,000 or 


 1           $500,000 just really don't exist.  

 2                  So this is really meant to be a 

 3           city/state-financed, 100 percent affordable 

 4           homeownership option, really to get at some 

 5           of the racial wealth gap issues that we have 

 6           in the city, and we have them in the state as 

 7           well, and is driving at sort of a truly 

 8           affordable housing option.  

 9                  So it may not come across that way in 

10           the statute, but that is the intent.  And the 

11           130 is really sort of an up-to, and obviously 

12           it can provide housing for people less than 

13           that as well.

14                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Thank you.

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

16           Assemblywoman Niou.

17                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  Hello, 

18           Commissioner.  Thank you for joining us 

19           today.  I just -- I had a couple of 

20           questions.  I want to echo also my 

21           colleagues' sentiments on public housing.  

22           And, you know, we should be funding public 

23           housing more and not actually stopping the 

24           funding.  And we should be actually adding 


 1           more to the pot, not taking the pot away.  

 2           Right?  So I think we have to make sure that 

 3           we are continuing to fund public housing.  

 4                  And I also agree with my other 

 5           colleague, Latrice, who had talked about, you 

 6           know, taking the trust out of the budget 

 7           discussions, because I think it's really 

 8           important that we actually do not end public 

 9           housing as we know it.

10                  So I also wanted to ask a question.  

11           You know, how many affordable housing units 

12           do you think we require to meet the needs of 

13           the state?  And how close does the Governor's 

14           plan of creating only 100,000 units close 

15           that gap, I guess?  

16                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So there 

17           have been, you know, several studies that 

18           have been done that say that New York City 

19           and New York State need to -- have a housing 

20           gap of upwards of 500,000 units over the next 

21           five to 10 years.  That is a doubling or 

22           tripling of the production of what New York 

23           State does in New York City, what New York 

24           City does in New York City, and what the 


 1           private market does in New York City.

 2                  So I think the need for housing 

 3           generally is very great, and obviously the 

 4           need for affordable housing goes hand in 

 5           glove for that, and that's why we have a -- 

 6           not only a $4 billion capital ask for the 

 7           Housing Plan, but also a series of 

 8           supply-side tools to get at -- we just need 

 9           more housing in general.

10                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  Okay.  So it's a 

11           pretty large difference:  500,000 and 100,000 

12           are a really big difference.  

13                  But we also didn't see -- I wanted to 

14           ask about HONDA as a mechanism for that 

15           investment.  There was no increase in funding 

16           about the initial $100 million invested in 

17           the last budget into the HONDA program, so I 

18           wanted to ask you about that.  

19                  And then I also wanted to see if you 

20           could answer whether -- so HSTPA actually 

21           passed in 2019, and DHCR has yet produce an 

22           audit report of 25 percent of MCI 

23           applications.  When can we actually expect 

24           that report?


 1                  So those two questions.

 2                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I will check 

 3           on the audit report.  Governor Hochul is very 

 4           committed to all of the agencies getting all 

 5           of our reports out in a timely fashion, so I 

 6           don't know about that one exactly, but I'm 

 7           happy to circle back with you.

 8                  On HONDA, we -- until about a week 

 9           ago, we hadn't gotten any applications for 

10           the funding program that we put to match with 

11           the HONDA legislation.  Just about a week ago 

12           we had a nonprofit send us a proposal, which 

13           we're meeting with them on next week.  But we 

14           didn't put any additional money in the 

15           program because we haven't gotten anyone 

16           asking for any money for it.

17                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  Okay.  I will 

18           take that back to our {inaudible} -- people 

19           are saying that they are -- there's a huge 

20           need for it.  And it's because there's no 

21           funding, so it's the cycle.

22                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Yeah.  We 

23           have a term sheet and a program that we put 

24           up.  And people, you know, definitely can go 


 1           through you to get to me or they can call me 

 2           directly.  You know, we're happy to talk to 

 3           people about projects that could use that 

 4           funding.

 5                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  Okay, thank you.

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 7                  To the Senate.  

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

 9                  Senator Tom O'Mara.

10                  SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you, Senator 

11           Krueger.

12                  Thank you, Commissioner, for the 

13           amount of time you're putting in with us here 

14           this evening.  

15                  A couple of quick questions, I hope.  

16           The Executive Budget has an appropriation for 

17           $77 million for the Office of Storm Recovery 

18           for areas of the state impacted by Hurricanes 

19           Irene, Lee and Sandy.  Can you give a little 

20           detail on what that is for?  And if you can 

21           then comment on why there isn't anything in 

22           there for the impacts to those upstate from 

23           Tropical Storm Fred this summer who FEMA has 

24           denied individual assistance to.


 1                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So as you 

 2           may recall, the Governor's Office of Storm 

 3           Recovery got about $4 billion for Irene, 

 4           Sandy and Lee that was both for housing -- 

 5           which was for the majority of the funding in 

 6           the early part of the program; we don't see 

 7           very much past those storms -- and then for a 

 8           series of infrastructure and what are called 

 9           community reconstruction projects.  

10                  Early on in the program there was more 

11           money shifted into housing that had been -- 

12           there had been commitments made around 

13           infrastructure and community reconstruction 

14           projects.  So that $77 million is meant to 

15           fulfill the commitment from a couple of years 

16           ago, a sort of a fixed set of community 

17           reconstruction projects.

18                  I would note also -- I'm sure your 

19           district may not have been impacted by 

20           Hurricane Ida, but we are expecting 

21           additional federal funds to come for that to 

22           the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery.

23                  As it relates to Hurricane Fred, you 

24           know, the money that we usually get is 


 1           long-term reconstruction and recovery money, 

 2           not sort of the FEMA dollars.  So I'm not as 

 3           familiar with that.  But happy to follow up 

 4           on it.

 5                  SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  Thanks.  

 6                  In the time I have left, with 

 7           New York's Green New Deal -- and we're in a 

 8           year of review now on what actions the state 

 9           is going to take through the Climate Action 

10           Council.  What analysis has DHCR done in 

11           regards to converting its housing to 

12           electric?  What's the feasibility of that, 

13           the cost of that, and who's going to pay it?

14                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So there was 

15           a fair amount of work done in the CLCPA 

16           process.  I chaired the Energy Efficiency and 

17           Housing Panel, and there was a series of 

18           consultants that looked at the housing stock, 

19           looked at costs for conversion, looked at 

20           technology available for conversion.

21                  There's not necessarily in -- sort of 

22           the New York City-built environment for 

23           electrification of all big buildings; we're 

24           sort of not there yet.  But what we have done 


 1           in the Housing Plan is include in our 

 2           baseline programs funding so that our new 

 3           construction can be electric so that our 

 4           preservation projects can be, if not electric 

 5           today, if they can be electric-ready so that 

 6           as we transition off the grid, they are ready 

 7           at that time, whether that's weatherization 

 8           or whatever type of work that they need to 

 9           do.

10                  So we are very much trying to align 

11           our work with that, based on a lot of work 

12           that was done by a series of consultants that 

13           underpinned the CLCPA recommendations.

14                  SENATOR O'MARA:  What do you mean by 

15           "with regards to larger buildings, we're not 

16           really there yet"?

17                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  My 

18           understanding is that you can't electrify, 

19           for example, like a domestic hot water for a 

20           40-story building yet, that the technology 

21           isn't there.  So we are -- so I think the 

22           city itself also has put in Local Law 97 to 

23           get new construction to switch to electric, I 

24           think by 2027.  So I think that's giving some 


 1           time for the technology to sort of catch up 

 2           for some of the larger built environment.  

 3                  But I think for the majority it's 

 4           certainly the things that we finance at HCR 

 5           that are commonly, you know, 15 stories or 

 6           less, we feel confident that we can switch 

 7           our new construction to electric in almost 

 8           all of our projects across the state.

 9                  SENATOR O'MARA:  For new, but not 

10           existing?

11                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  And for 

12           preservation I think it's a little more 

13           complicated, and not every building can sort 

14           of immediately get off of fossil fuel and 

15           electrify.  Whether that means they have to 

16           do -- you know, they have to be well-sealed, 

17           so whether that's windows or weatherization, 

18           that we can't just sort of electrify without 

19           that work.  So we're going to phase that in 

20           over the next couple of years.

21                  But, you know, we're very focused on 

22           it.

23                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  I'm 

24           sorry, I have to cut you off, Tom.  Thank 


 1           you.

 2                  Assembly.

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

 4           Schmitt.

 5                  ASSEMBLYMAN SCHMITT:  Thank you.

 6                  Commissioner, thanks for your time.

 7                  I was wondering, I was -- I saw that 

 8           the Office of Rent Administration's overall 

 9           budget has increased to I believe over 

10           18 million this year.  Is there a specific 

11           reason that's such a steep increase?

12                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So the 

13           majority of that, about 15 million of it, is 

14           really a transfer from ITS into HCR's budget, 

15           for technology -- for our technology project.

16                  ASSEMBLYMAN SCHMITT:  Could you just 

17           explain that to me, what is the technology 

18           project specifically?

19                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Oh, sure.

20                  So our operating system is very old 

21           and we have been in a very protracted process 

22           where we are transitioning off of our old 

23           system into a new processing system, and so 

24           ITS is -- and we have previously been working 


 1           with a vendor who we're not anymore, we're 

 2           now working directly with ITS.  

 3                  So this is funding that would go 

 4           towards the scoping and the build of that 

 5           technology.

 6                  ASSEMBLYMAN SCHMITT:  And so you 

 7           expect it to be a one-off expense?

 8                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Yes.  Yes.  

 9           So this is meant to cover that expense.  It's 

10           not a recurring expense.

11                  ASSEMBLYMAN SCHMITT:  And I hear from 

12           a lot of my small property owners, a lot of 

13           the folks in my district that might own a 

14           building, they might own a few units in the 

15           Hudson Valley and upstate.  And most of what 

16           they're dealing with is, you know, 

17           nonpayment, nonpayment proceedings if it's 

18           reached that point.

19                  And obviously we've seen some 

20           suggestions or some efforts have been made 

21           about how we can combat this additional 

22           request for federal funding, et cetera, et 

23           cetera.  But what if that doesn't come 

24           through, what if some of the proposals just 


 1           don't work out?  What is the last fallback 

 2           for these taxpayers?  Is there -- where can 

 3           they look if everything else fails?  They're 

 4           very concerned.  What is their final 

 5           fallback?

 6                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I mean, as 

 7           it relates to the rental assistance, you 

 8           know, as you know, that's being run out of 

 9           OTDA, so my information on that is a little 

10           bit limited.

11                  I do understand, as you may have seen 

12           in the budget, that there is $2 billion that 

13           is being reserved to, you know, potentially 

14           go towards that rental assistance.  And I 

15           think the Governor -- I've heard her say 

16           this, and I'm sure you have too, she is very 

17           sympathetic to small landlords and small 

18           business owners who are suffering a lot from 

19           this.  I think there had been maybe some 

20           initial programs at ESD for landlords, and we 

21           had had some initially too, but I think at 

22           this time there is that.

23                  The $2 billion is there sort of as a 

24           placeholder to address -- should their money 


 1           not come from the federal government for 

 2           rental arrears.

 3                  ASSEMBLYMAN SCHMITT:  Thank you.

 4                  Thank you, Chairs.

 5                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  Let's 

 6           see.

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  To the Senate.

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Okay, we have 

 9           Brian Kavanagh.  But do you still want to 

10           wait for the last Assemblymember before you 

11           go, Brian?

12                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Yeah, I think 

13           people should have their first round first, 

14           so.

15                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Okay.  Back to 

16           you, Assemblymember.

17                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

18           Bichotte Hermelyn, who will be followed by 

19           Assemblywoman Kelles, to be followed by 

20           Assemblyman Meeks.


22           Thank you so much.  Thank you, Commissioner, 

23           for being here and for your testimony.  

24                  I have a couple of -- well, three 


 1           questions.  So I will state my questions 

 2           first.  My office has been working with a lot 

 3           of constituents regarding the ERAP program, 

 4           and some of the questions that arise was for 

 5           the remaining funds, how are the remaining 

 6           applications being selected?  Is it on a 

 7           first come, first served basis?

 8                  We have an issue with language access.  

 9           We have a high need for Haitian Creole, Urdu 

10           and Spanish.  And we also have a high need to 

11           get someone on the phone, who can be live, 

12           versus an automated customer service process.  

13           That's an issue, as well as the elders who 

14           are trying to apply, they don't have access 

15           to the online process.  And so very similar 

16           to SCRIE, is there a way that there can be a 

17           paper process that we can help them?

18                  So that's question number one around 

19           the ERAP, LRAP program.

20                  Question number two is around the 

21           Tenant Protection Unit.  I did see, under the 

22           state appropriations section, there was about 

23           5.5 million allocated.  Typically, over the 

24           course of the years, I think it was like 


 1           $10 million and up.  I wanted to know why the 

 2           decrease in the Tenant Protection Unit.  And 

 3           I agree with my colleagues, we're not talking 

 4           much about it.

 5                  And the last question is around the 

 6           421-a replacement, which I still need to get 

 7           my hands around.  The Affordable 

 8           Neighborhoods for New York tax incentive 

 9           programs -- like my colleagues, I do have 

10           some concerns about how this program is being 

11           put together.  But on top of everything that 

12           was said about it, there was still no talks 

13           about minority and women business 

14           enterprise participation and goals -- 

15           nothing.  And again, that's a concern.

16                  Thank you.  

17                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So I'll go 

18           in reverse order.  Or, I'm sorry, I'll go in 

19           your order.

20                  On ERAP, I don't have too much to 

21           offer on ERAP.  The OTDA is taking the lead 

22           on that, which I'm sure you know, and they 

23           have a new commissioner who just started a 

24           couple of weeks ago.  And I know he is very, 


 1           very focused on getting a lot of the issues 

 2           and a lot of backlog addressed.  

 3                  So, you know, I'm sure that's 

 4           something that he can speak to more than I 

 5           can.

 6                  On the Tenant Protection Unit, so we 

 7           have been at 5.5 million for a couple of 

 8           years.  I think for maybe a while before that 

 9           it had been coupled in with the overall ORA 

10           budget.  But 5.5 for us is full funding for 

11           the 25 staff for TPU.  So it isn't a 

12           reduction of where we've been since the unit 

13           really started.

14                  And on 421-a, I think that's a fair 

15           question on MWBEs and something we'd be happy 

16           to talk more about with you.


18           Thank you.

19                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

20           Assemblywoman Kelles.

21                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN KELLES:  Hi, and good 

22           afternoon, Commissioner.  

23                  I want to start by saying I deeply 

24           appreciate the strategies outlines and 


 1           appreciate the focus on building more 

 2           affordable housing.  That's so important.  

 3           But I did want to add that I'm concerned by 

 4           the lack of focus on keeping existing tenants 

 5           in place and creating short-term 

 6           stabilization so that as the programs you 

 7           mentioned in the budget roll out, they reach 

 8           the very people we're trying to reach.  Sort 

 9           of that triage.

10                  And I think Good Cause really does 

11           create that.  It still allows landlords to 

12           raise rents significantly and evict tenants 

13           if they break other stipulations of the 

14           lease.  And I would also add that states like 

15           New Jersey have had this since 1974, and 

16           they've had a really positive experience.  So 

17           it's not like there's not a precedent set.

18                  I'd love to see it reconsidered for 

19           the 30 days.  So I just wanted to make that 

20           note.

21                  And I wanted to skip over and say 

22           thank you so much for including the ADUs.  I 

23           think this is really important.  And just to 

24           address some of the concerns that have been 


 1           raised by some of the questioners here, the 

 2           language actually does include the precaution 

 3           for safety issues, health/safety issues, that 

 4           limitations can be created if septic capacity 

 5           shows that, is one.  And the other is that 

 6           there are restrictions on requiring extra 

 7           parking, so the consideration of like hugely 

 8           increasing traffic.

 9                  So I wanted to thank you, and I really 

10           do think the details address that. 

11                  So I have just one question.  The 

12           Governor mentioned 50 million for a Tenant 

13           Opportunity to Purchase Act sort of 

14           component.  But from what I'm seeing, it 

15           looks more like a community land bank program 

16           that would still require financing through a 

17           private banking system and not necessarily 

18           enable existing tenants to purchase their 

19           homes through a government assistance 

20           program, which is more what we think of as 

21           TOPA. 

22                  So could you talk a little bit more 

23           about how you're hoping this will improve 

24           tenants' ability to stay in place and protect 


 1           them if they aren't able to access those 

 2           private banking programs?  

 3                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So the -- 

 4           it's a little bit of a different strategy, I 

 5           think.  But happy to talk a little bit more 

 6           about it with you.  

 7                  But the $50 million that we are 

 8           looking at within our homeownership program 

 9           is really driving folks to bring us proposals 

10           for homeownership projects on community land 

11           trust-owned land and land bank-owned land, or 

12           -- and is structured as permanently 

13           affordable, more community control and sort 

14           of a change in governance, whether that's a 

15           limited equity co-op or some other type of 

16           structure that people want to propose to us.  

17                  So we're really trying to drive with 

18           that actually sort of new construction of 

19           sort of alternative models around permanent, 

20           you know, change in governance for 

21           homeownership.  But I think happy to talk 

22           more about existing tenants and what 

23           opportunities there might be there.

24                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN KELLES:  Yeah, I think 


 1           these two pieces, I want to just, you know, 

 2           really emphasize allowing for a more 

 3           TOPA-focused, which would -- a grant program, 

 4           a government program specifically, one.  And 

 5           then Good Cause.  It would be great to see 

 6           both of those.  I really think it rounds out 

 7           the package that you have.  

 8                  So thank you so much.

 9                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Thanks.

10                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  And Assemblyman 

11           Meeks.  Desmond, you're on.

12                  ASSEMBLYMAN MEEKS:  You're going to 

13           have to stop giving me that S.  It's Demond.  

14           Thank you, Chair.  No S.

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  I need new 

16           glasses.

17                  (Laughter.)

18                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Start the time 

19           over again, please.  I really do need new 

20           glasses.

21                  ASSEMBLYMAN MEEKS:  So thank you all.  

22           Thank you, Commissioner.  

23                  I have a question regarding HONDA.  As 

24           it relates to the funding, it's my 


 1           understanding that it applies -- there's 

 2           resources for New York City.  Are there 

 3           additional resources for upstate cities?

 4                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So the 

 5           legislation that was -- the appropriation 

 6           that was passed last year came with a series 

 7           of sort of stipulations that was just for 

 8           New York City, so we created a term sheet to 

 9           be able to spend that money in New York City 

10           in accordance with the language in the 

11           appropriation, which was very specific about 

12           what it could be used for.

13                  In terms of upstate and people being 

14           able to convert hotels or office buildings, 

15           you know, folks can come -- no one has come 

16           and asked us just generally for resources on 

17           that.  I think if there are folks maybe in 

18           your district who have sites that they may be 

19           thinking of doing that with, I would just 

20           encourage them to come talk to us and let us 

21           figure out if we can find a way to do that.

22                  ASSEMBLYMAN MEEKS:  Okay.  And also as 

23           it relates to some of the development that's 

24           taking place throughout the state, I know 


 1           we've had our share in Rochester from DASNY.  

 2           Just wondering, are there things in place to 

 3           assure -- or can we put something in place to 

 4           assure that individuals from these zip codes 

 5           in these particular communities have an 

 6           opportunity to generate wealth from building 

 7           the project, as opposed to, Hey, here's more 

 8           low-income housing, you can live here, but 

 9           you don't have an opportunity to generate 

10           wealth by building.  

11                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  You mean by 

12           being part of the development team that does 

13           the projects?  

14                  ASSEMBLYMAN MEEKS:  Absolutely, yes.  

15           Or -- or the opportunity to be a laborer, you 

16           know, for the development.

17                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  So we have a 

18           30 percent requirement of our spend to go to 

19           MWBEs, and we take that very seriously.  And 

20           we have year over year been very successful 

21           on the development side of getting that met.  

22                  We also work fairly closely, and will 

23           continue to, with our partners at ESD to make 

24           sure people can get access to the 


 1           certification program and so that people are 

 2           aware of how to find MWBEs by trade.  

 3                  So we're very focused on that and 

 4           would be happy to talk more about ways to do 

 5           it even more and be better about it.

 6                  ASSEMBLYMAN MEEKS:  Thank you.

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

 8                  So I think we're -- the Assembly is 

 9           finished, and we go back to the Senate for, I 

10           guess, Senator Kavanagh.

11                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  Thank 

12           you.  For the closing round for Senator Brian 

13           Kavanagh.

14                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you.  

15                  Just a couple of quick questions -- 

16           hopefully quick.  You had this exchange with 

17           Assemblywoman Walker about the Affordable 

18           Housing Corporation.  I think, you know, the 

19           Governor signed in December the bill that 

20           increased the per unit allocation for that.  

21           A lot of us expected that that would come 

22           with a comparable increase in the overall 

23           program.  

24                  Can you tell us -- you know, can you 


 1           get back to us about what it would take to 

 2           have that increase not result in a 

 3           diminishment of the units?  How much money 

 4           would we have to put in to keep that program 

 5           at the same rate?  That would be helpful.

 6                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  Yup.

 7                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Second, just -- 

 8           you've had a couple of questions where you've 

 9           had to say, Well, that's OTDA -- recognizing 

10           that a lot of the housing stock is across 

11           different agencies, and we will have a Social 

12           Services hearing on Wednesday.  

13                  But I think a lot of the concern stems 

14           from the fact that there are different 

15           agencies -- beyond ERAP there are different 

16           agencies involved in providing housing, both 

17           subsidies like the rental assistance subsidy, 

18           and then also permanent housing.  There are 

19           actually some capital programs in OTDA's 

20           budget.

21                  I think that -- just a general 

22           question.  Is there any assessment that the 

23           state overall can offer as -- to the extent 

24           this budget overall is providing substantial 


 1           spending on housing, how big a dent does it 

 2           make in our critical needs, given the fact 

 3           that we have 90-some-odd-thousand homeless 

 4           people at any given moment, and the fact that 

 5           we have, you know, very serious underfunding 

 6           and undermaintenance of the housing we have? 

 7                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  I mean, I 

 8           think there's -- someone else said this, I 

 9           don't know who it was, that you can't really 

10           like build your way out of, you know, a lot 

11           of these issues.

12                  But I think what we're trying to do 

13           here is really create -- and I think that's 

14           true for the state housing agency and for the 

15           New York City housing agency, I think we feel 

16           like we keep building -- you know, we've had 

17           decades of Housing Plan investment and 

18           there's still an affordability crisis and we 

19           really need additional tools, which is sort 

20           of what we've tried to put together here, 

21           whether it's hotel and commercial conversions 

22           or -- I know these are not all popular, but 

23           either TOD or ADU or 12 FAR.  And 421-a 

24           really is trying to put together a really big 


 1           strategy to say we really need production of 

 2           housing at a really big scale, we need to be 

 3           bigger than we are now.  Doing, you know, 

 4           20,000 units or so a year in New York City is 

 5           not going to cut it if we want to maintain 

 6           population growth and job growth.

 7                  And frankly it limits our economics 

 8           and our ability to grow regionally.  It 

 9           creates, you know, a shortage, it creates 

10           overcrowding, it creates racial segregation.  

11           Like there's just a lot embedded in our lack 

12           of sort of supply in housing.  So --

13                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  As our housing 

14           commissioner -- I'm sorry to interrupt -- I 

15           mean, the rental subsidies and eviction 

16           prevention subsidies are -- should be a 

17           significant tool, right, even though they're 

18           not necessarily in your bailiwick.

19                  COMMISSIONER VISNAUSKAS:  We need 

20           those things too.  You know, we were hoping, 

21           should Build Back better have been passed, 

22           that we were going to get upwards of 20,000 

23           more vouchers in the State of New York, which 

24           would have been amazing.


 1                  So, you know, I think we feel like 

 2           there is no one single solution to this 

 3           problem.

 4                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  To be continued.  I 

 5           am going to ask that we -- you know, as this 

 6           budget process unfolds, that we try to have a 

 7           conversation across agencies and across 

 8           silos.  And, you know, we're also having a 

 9           separate hearing in two days, so it's not 

10           just the Executive.  But I think we all need 

11           to get together and figure out what the 

12           overall impact of these programs is.

13                  But thank you so much for your 

14           testimony today.  And thank you, Chairs, for 

15           indulging me.

16                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

17                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So you're 

18           finished, Senator Krueger?  

19                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  We're finished, 

20           yes.

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So are we.  

22                  So RuthAnne, thank you for being here 

23           with us and spending so much time.  

24                  We're now, colleagues, going to move 


 1           to the public portion of this hearing.  

 2           You'll notice that we have the witness list 

 3           grouped in panels with individuals who are 

 4           going to basically address similar issues in 

 5           each panel.

 6                  Just a reminder, the witnesses have 

 7           three minutes to present their testimony.  

 8           When all the witnesses in the panel have 

 9           finished, any members who wish to ask a 

10           question of the panel would have three 

11           minutes to ask one question.

12                  And I would just encourage people to 

13           be mindful of the fact that we do have a lot 

14           of public witnesses.  We've tried to have as 

15           many as possible.  We know it's going to be a 

16           late night.  We appreciate people staying 

17           with us.  But I will in advance thank all of 

18           the people who are about to come before us to 

19           speak for all of the good work they do in the 

20           community.  So there's -- and I'll say that 

21           on behalf of all of the members, so there's 

22           not a need for everybody individually to 

23           thank the people for the work they do in the 

24           neighborhood.


 1                  And that being said, we'll call 

 2           Panel A.  If I skip a name off the witness 

 3           list, that means they've -- since the time 

 4           the witness list was prepared, they have 

 5           determined that they would just submit their 

 6           testimony and don't wish to testify in 

 7           person.

 8                  So we have the association for -- I 

 9           think we have to let them into the hearing.  

10           Ashley has to let them into the hearing.

11                  THE MODERATOR:  I believe that all of 

12           Panel A that we have is in.

13                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  I see them, 

14           they're on page 2 of the Zoom.  Hi.  Hi, all.

15                  So we have, from the Association for 

16           Neighborhood and Housing Development, Barika 

17           Williams, executive director; from the 

18           Community Preservation Corporation, Erin 

19           Burns-Maine, chief of staff; from the 

20           New York Housing Conference, Rachel Fee, 

21           executive director; and from Habitat for 

22           Humanity of New York State, Mary Robinson, 

23           chief executive officer.

24                  If you can go in that order, and be 


 1           mindful of the three-minute time clock.  We 

 2           have distributed your testimony to all of the 

 3           members of the committees who are 

 4           participating today.  So to the best you can, 

 5           summarize your testimony, and I think we can 

 6           have a meaningful dialogue going forward.  So 

 7           if we --

 8                  THE MODERATOR:  We also -- I'm sorry 

 9           to interrupt -- have Baaba Halm.  I'm not 

10           sure -- she can tell us her organization that 

11           she's from.  She was a last-minute addition 

12           to the witness list.

13                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Is that 

14           Enterprise?

15                  MS. HALM:  Yes.

16                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Okay, yes, 

17           there was a retyping of the -- you were left 

18           off initially when the witness list went out.

19                  Okay.  So if we can go in that order 

20           and start with Association for Neighborhood 

21           and Housing Development, please, three 

22           minutes.

23                  MS. WILLIAMS:  Hello, everybody, good 

24           evening.  My name is Barika Williams.  I'm 


 1           the executive director at the Association for 

 2           Neighborhood and Housing Development, or 

 3           ANHD.  

 4                  I just want to do a quick thank you to 

 5           all the chairs for the opportunity to testify 

 6           and for everybody, all of you all, especially 

 7           for sticking with all of us through this long 

 8           evening to really testify on the 

 9           housing-related proposals in the Governor's 

10           FY '22-'23 Executive Budget.  

11                  I'm not going to go through my full 

12           and very long testimony that covers a number 

13           of areas and different topics.  I'm going to 

14           try to -- I couldn't catch all of the 

15           commissioner's testimony, but I'm going to 

16           try to hit certain parts that I think were 

17           either questioned or things that maybe you 

18           all raised that would I think need to be 

19           addressed.

20                  So first off I want to thank the 

21           Senate and Assembly for your ongoing support 

22           of ANHD's Displacement Alert Project, DAP, 

23           which during COVID really helped communities 

24           and you all, elected officials and your 


 1           staff, monitor hotspots of where tenants were 

 2           at the highest risk of eviction and really do 

 3           outreach to New Yorkers to keep them in their 

 4           homes.  

 5                  Many community members and some of 

 6           your staff really used this as walking sheets 

 7           to try to address the threats that we were 

 8           seeing on the ground.  And because of your 

 9           support and investment, we had the tools 

10           ready to go to do this analysis.  And for the 

11           first time, advocates and government partners 

12           can now view eviction cases filed in their 

13           districts at an individual building level 

14           throughout New York City.  

15                  So this has become an incredibly 

16           powerful tool, and we hope that you will 

17           continue to support us with a budget 

18           allocation of $150,000 so that we can 

19           continue operating this, as we know we are 

20           going into a critical time when it comes to 

21           the threats of eviction and displacement.

22                  I'm going to touch on TOPA and CLT, 

23           because that has come up a few times, and 

24           just to ask for clarification, maybe for you 


 1           all to try to get a little bit more clarity 

 2           for us as well.  ANHD supports the passage of 

 3           the TOPA bill and for the community land 

 4           trust acquisition fund legislation.  

 5                  And it seems like from the 

 6           commissioner's response, the proposed budget 

 7           includes a $50 million pilot program that 

 8           could be used across both of those, 

 9           potentially.  I think that sounds incredibly 

10           disappointing from our point of view.  These 

11           are two different programs, both of which 

12           deserve funding and dedicated funding and 

13           support in order for them to move forward and 

14           actually have a real chance.

15                  And then lastly I will quickly hit 

16           421-a, which many folks highlighted.  And we 

17           obviously want to see the end of 421-a, are 

18           not in support of the revised 421-a, the 

19           remake to 485-w in the Governor's proposal.  

20           There's a number of significant concerns and 

21           questions here, one of which fundamentally 

22           is, you know, how many affordable housing 

23           units, homelessness vouchers, et cetera, 

24           could we be using and creating with 


 1           $1.5 billion a year, which is what 421-a 

 2           costs us.  

 3                  We fundamentally feel like the current 

 4           proposal keeps in place many of the flaws of 

 5           the original 421-a program and that we should 

 6           be using this for affordable housing dollars, 

 7           not to subsidize market-rate rents.

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  We 

 9           move on to Community Preservation 

10           Corporation.

11                  MS. BURNS-MAINE:  Hi, good evening.  

12           Thank you, Senator Krueger, Assemblymember 

13           Weinstein, Housing Chairs Cymbrowitz and 

14           Kavanagh, and other distinguished members of 

15           the New York State Legislature for the 

16           opportunity to speak today.

17                  My name is Erin Burns-Maine.  I'm 

18           chief of staff and vice president of policy 

19           for the Community Preservation Corporation.

20                  There is a housing crisis.  Our 

21           testimony submitted includes some of the 

22           data, and we heard much of it already today.  

23           The core of the solution to this housing 

24           crisis is simple:  Build and preserve as much 


 1           quality affordable housing as possible.  The 

 2           Governor's budget takes important steps 

 3           towards this goal, and CPC looks forward to 

 4           continuing to work with the state to build 

 5           and preserve New York's housing stock.

 6                  Small buildings -- and I'm going to 

 7           talk a bit about small buildings today -- 

 8           those with less than 50 units account for 

 9           70 percent of the affordable housing in New 

10           York State.  They are a critical source of 

11           quality affordable housing stock and are a 

12           great resource for our neighborhoods.  To 

13           date, CPC has invested $47 million through 

14           HCR's Small Buildings Participation Loan 

15           Program, creating 172 new affordable units.  

16           And we applaud the continued investment into 

17           this important program in the Executive 

18           Budget.

19                  Small rental building owners have been 

20           disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.  

21           A recent survey of our building owners that 

22           we compared against a larger data set of 

23           larger buildings across the city showed that 

24           small buildings had higher rates of tenants 


 1           in significant arrears.  And those tenants 

 2           are actually less likely to have applied for 

 3           rent relief through the ERAP program than 

 4           those in large buildings.

 5                  The Landlord Rental Assistance 

 6           Program, which was created by the state and 

 7           funded for $100 million in FY '22, was much 

 8           more accessible to small landlords and 

 9           affordable housing providers, effectively 

10           preventing evictions and keeping landlords 

11           and tenants out of court.  That initial pot 

12           of money was spent far too quickly.  I think 

13           it was out for about six weeks, which is 

14           indicative of the need.  We would really like 

15           to see another allocation of funding into 

16           this pool to again keep tenants and building 

17           owners out of court.  Those who are facing 

18           pandemic-related hardships we would like to 

19           see preventing evictions, prioritizing a 

20           streamlined accessible program like LRAP.

21                  With the Affordable Neighborhoods for 

22           All New Yorkers legislation, the 

23           administration does recognize the critical 

24           role that small affordable rental buildings 


 1           play as a backbone in our communities, and 

 2           the unique challenges that are faced in 

 3           funding those developments.  We're glad to 

 4           see affordability requirements for buildings 

 5           with 30 or fewer units that really balances 

 6           the financing needs of small buildings with 

 7           the goal of requiring deeper affordability to 

 8           our households.

 9                  More broadly, we cannot address the 

10           affordable housing crisis without land use.  

11           The new Transit-Oriented Development Act is a 

12           step in the right direction.  

13                  And lastly, as we wrap up, any budget 

14           passed by the state cannot overlook the 

15           urgent needs of the New York City Housing 

16           Authority residents.  We would urge the state 

17           both to consider a significant allocation of 

18           capital, $1.5 billion, as well as legislative 

19           solutions and fixes like the public trust or 

20           any other legislative solutions that NYCHA 

21           can meet.  We believe NYCHA needs all the 

22           tools in the toolbox.

23                  Thank you for your time.

24                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  


 1                  Now we move on to the New York Housing 

 2           Conference.

 3                  MS. FEE:  Good evening.  My name is 

 4           Rachel Fee.  I'm executive director of the 

 5           New York Housing Conference, an affordable 

 6           housing policy and advocacy organization.  

 7           Thank you for the opportunity to comment 

 8           today.

 9                  We are encouraged by Governor Hochul's 

10           $4.5 billion Housing Plan, which aligns with 

11           many of the recommendations we issued in a 

12           December report in coalition with 16 partner 

13           organizations.  But it does fall short of the 

14           6 billion in new funding we seek, plus an 

15           additional 1.5 billion annually for NYCHA.

16                  The Housing Plan represents only 

17           7.5 percent of the total $92 billion in the 

18           state's capital budget for housing.  That 

19           means it's less than transportation, higher 

20           education, economic development, parks and 

21           environmental capital.  We believe that 

22           affordable housing must be a priority.

23                  We are generally supportive of the 

24           proposed programming, but the next five-year 


 1           Housing Plan must come with improved 

 2           transparency and require public reporting 

 3           posted on the New York State Homes and 

 4           Community Renewal website.  We hope the 

 5           enacted budget requires this basic reporting 

 6           requirement.  

 7                  We also recommend the following to be 

 8           included in the enacted budget.  A portion of 

 9           the 2 billion in pandemic relief reserves 

10           should be used to supplement ERAP, and the 

11           Housing Access Voucher Program should be 

12           taken up as a long-term solution.  We support 

13           the Governor's proposal for legal assistance 

14           across the state.

15                  For public housing, we believe the 

16           city and state must partner on a long-term 

17           funding strategy to pay for NYCHA's 

18           $40 billion capital repairs, and the state 

19           should allocate a million of 1.5 billion this 

20           year, as I previously mentioned.  We also 

21           hope to see an increase in public housing 

22           developments outside of New York City in the 

23           enacted budget.  

24                  Regarding fair housing, we support the 


 1           Eliminating Barriers to Accessing Housing in 

 2           New York program, and we believe an 

 3           additional 1 million is needed to fund fair 

 4           housing programs. 

 5                  Regarding senior housing, we recommend 

 6           the creation of an independent senior 

 7           affordable housing assistance program to 

 8           offer a service coordinator model in 

 9           congregate senior housing.  

10                  We recognize that with this funding 

11           increase across programs, HCR must be 

12           adequately staffed and funded.  

13                  We commend the Governor on her land 

14           use proposals and enthusiastically support 

15           the Transit-Oriented Development Act of 2022, 

16           the Creating Housing Opportunities Through 

17           Building Conversion Act, accessory dwelling 

18           unit legislation, the repeal of the 12 FAR 

19           cap in New York City.  

20                  And we also support recent legislation 

21           by Senator May -- that's S7635 -- which would 

22           enhance the state's ability to encourage 

23           affordable housing production with the 

24           creation of a housing appeals board.  


 1           Throughout the state, exclusionary zoning is 

 2           a common barrier to the supply shortage we 

 3           face.

 4                  We'd also like to see the state take 

 5           advantage of its own assets and utilize 

 6           state-owned land to create housing 

 7           opportunities, and we believe that should be 

 8           part of this conversation to add to 

 9           New York's housing stock.  

10                  I look forward to any questions.  

11           Thank you.

12                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  We 

13           move on to Habitat for Humanity of New York 

14           State, three minutes.

15                  MS. ROBINSON:  Good evening.  On 

16           behalf of Habitat for Humanity's 

17           40 affiliates throughout New York, thank you 

18           for the opportunity to speak today and share 

19           the need for greater investment in 

20           homeownership opportunities for low-income 

21           New Yorkers.

22                  Habitat for Humanity affiliates work 

23           in urban and rural areas, upstate and 

24           downstate, building and rehabilitating homes 


 1           for low-income residents, ensuring homebuyers 

 2           pay no more than 30 percent of their income 

 3           for their homes.  We build homes in part 

 4           using volunteer labor and public donations, 

 5           but with rising costs, these funds are not 

 6           enough to meet the need.  Each home 

 7           represents long-term housing stability for a 

 8           hardworking family.  Homeownership is often 

 9           left out in discussions of affordable 

10           housing, and we are grateful that the 

11           proposed budget includes such a significant 

12           investment in it.

13                  The primary state-financed source that 

14           our affiliates in New York utilize is the 

15           Affordable Housing Corporation.  Since its 

16           establishment in 1985, AHC's budget has only 

17           increased from $25 million to $26 million per 

18           year -- but construction costs have 

19           skyrocketed.  

20                  Last month Governor Hochul signed a 

21           bill that will increase AHC's maximum 

22           per-unit allocation.  We are thankful for all 

23           your support in updating these funding 

24           levels, but without a corresponding increase 


 1           in allocations to the program, this bill will 

 2           produce fewer subsidized homes for those in 

 3           need.  We are requesting an overall budget 

 4           increase for the Affordable Housing 

 5           Corporation from 26 million to 50 million.

 6                  And while AHC is the primary 

 7           state-funding program we have used, we 

 8           support adding additional programs for 

 9           acquisition and construction to promote our 

10           work in affordable housing throughout the 

11           state.

12                  Also we would like to see funding 

13           devoted towards lead and asbestos abatement.  

14           Our aging housing stock has presented an 

15           opportunity for us to rehabilitate vacant, 

16           abandoned homes.  Unfortunately the 

17           remediation costs make many of the projects 

18           impossible for us to take on.  Additional 

19           funding will help put more New Yorkers into 

20           safe, stable, affordable homes, and aid in 

21           increasing the property tax revenue for 

22           municipalities.  

23                  Finally, we support efforts to keep 

24           homes affordable and promote sustainable, 


 1           permanent, affordable homeownership 

 2           opportunities.  These include a community 

 3           land trust tax relief bill that will provide 

 4           fair and stable tax treatment for homes on 

 5           CLTs, and an accessory homes enabling act 

 6           that will provide the right for homeowners to 

 7           build accessory dwelling units on their 

 8           properties, including an exemption of new 

 9           ADUs from the Multiple Dwelling Law.  And the 

10           400 million in additional capital base 

11           sources for ownership, but we'd love to see 

12           more details on how that will be allocated.

13                  Thank you again for the opportunity to 

14           testify and for your consideration of Habitat 

15           for Humanity's positions.  

16                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Enterprise 

17           Community Partners next.

18                  MS. HALM:  Thank you.

19                  Good evening.  My name is Baaba Halm, 

20           and I am the vice president and market leader 

21           for the New York office of Enterprise 

22           Community Partners.  Thank you for the 

23           opportunity to testify today.

24                  We also thank the Governor for 


 1           prioritizing housing in her capital budget.

 2                  Today we join our partners to ask that 

 3           the Governor and Legislature work together to 

 4           fully address New York's housing needs.  New 

 5           York State is in the midst of the worst 

 6           homelessness crisis since the Great 

 7           Depression.  When the state's eviction 

 8           moratorium expired on January 15th, 

 9           New Yorkers faced over 180,000 nonpayment 

10           eviction cases across the state.  

11                  The Housing Access Voucher Program 

12           would provide a long-term rental voucher to 

13           families that are homeless or at risk of 

14           homelessness, and would be available to 

15           undocumented New Yorkers.  It is critical 

16           that the state direct 1 billion for this 

17           program.

18                  We also ask that short-term emergency 

19           solutions, like ERAP and LRAP, be funded to 

20           support households still recovering from the 

21           economic effects of COVID.

22                  We applaud the state for passing a 

23           package of fair housing bills into law last 

24           year.  We are further encouraged by the fair 


 1           housing components of the Governor's 

 2           Executive Budget, including funding for fair 

 3           housing testing.  

 4                  Enterprise administers the Eliminating 

 5           Barriers to Housing in New York program, in 

 6           partnership with the State Attorney General, 

 7           which enhances the work of fair housing 

 8           organizations across the state.  This work is 

 9           critically important, but it will disappear 

10           without more funding.  We call for the state 

11           to allocate 15 million, 3 million annually 

12           for the next five years, to continue this 

13           program.

14                  We appreciate the Governor's proposal 

15           to prohibit landlords from automatically 

16           rejecting applicants with justice 

17           involvement.  We suggest strengthening this 

18           language, including more strong, detailed 

19           enforcement mechanisms.

20                  We were excited to see the Governor's 

21           proposed mechanisms to fight exclusionary 

22           zoning in our Housing Plan, and to see the 

23           legislation introduced by Senator May to 

24           streamline the approval of affordable housing 


 1           in communities with a dearth of it.  We look 

 2           forward to working with the state to further 

 3           refine these initiatives.

 4                  And on rural housing, our position is 

 5           that the state must also create funding 

 6           streams to meet the needs of small rental 

 7           housing in rural areas, vital sources of 

 8           affordable housing.  We appreciate the 

 9           Governor's Housing Plan, which makes 

10           reference to preserving rural rental 

11           properties and making them more accessible.  

12           We look forward to seeing details on how this 

13           will be achieved.

14                  And on NYCHA, we agree with the other 

15           advocates that it's important to acknowledge 

16           the significant omission of NYCHA in the 

17           five-year Housing Plan.  Recent developments 

18           in Washington make it clear that we cannot 

19           wait for the federal government to intervene 

20           and support this critical affordable housing 

21           stock.  We call on the state and the city to 

22           establish a long-term capital plan for public 

23           housing, with each providing at least 

24           1.5 billion annually.


 1                  And as a member of the Coalition for 

 2           Affordable Homes, we join the coalition in 

 3           calling for increased funding for the 

 4           Homeowner Protection Program, community land 

 5           trust acquisition funding, the Affordable 

 6           Housing Corporation, and a CLT taxation 

 7           exemption.

 8                  Thank you for the opportunity to 

 9           testify today.  We look forward to our 

10           continued work together.  

11                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  And 

12           if the panel can just wait to be able to 

13           answer questions.

14                  Senator Krueger, I believe you have a 

15           Senator with a question.

16                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  I do.  I have 

17           Senator Robert Jackson.

18                  SENATOR JACKSON:  Panel members -- 

19           panel members, let me thank you for coming in 

20           and giving testimony.  It's clearly 

21           important.

22                  I know, but I'm asking the question, 

23           how many of you do not favor the Governor's 

24           421-a changes that she laid out in her 


 1           budget?  Can you just raise your hand, if you 

 2           don't mind?  And if you have no position, 

 3           don't raise your hand.  But -- okay, so -- 

 4           mm-hmm.  

 5                  And as far as NYCHA, I've heard you, 

 6           Baaba, I guess all of you agree the Governor 

 7           should have addressed NYCHA in the five-year 

 8           Housing Plan, is that correct?  Please raise 

 9           your hand if you agree with what I just said.  

10           Okay.

11                  Well, I want to say to all of you that 

12           when I look at the 31st Senatorial District 

13           that I represent, from Marble Hill, Inwood, 

14           West Harlem, going all the way down to 

15           Chelsea at 26th Street, a very gerrymandered 

16           district 13 miles long, I'm told that I have 

17           the most rent-regulated units in the entire 

18           state.

19                  What about Good Cause Eviction?  If 

20           you favor that, please raise your hand -- 

21           when I say "you," you or your organization -- 

22           if you do.  Okay.  All right.  

23                  Well, let me thank all of you for 

24           coming in.  I appreciate your testimony.  It 


 1           helps me to focus on the organizations that 

 2           you represent and what your issues and 

 3           concerns are.  But I would think that all of 

 4           you -- and I'm going to ask you by raising 

 5           your hand -- want to make sure that the State 

 6           of New York increases the amount of building 

 7           affordable housing so everyone will have a 

 8           home.  If you agree with that, please raise 

 9           your hand.  Okay, I would assume that's what 

10           we want.

11                  So thank you, Madam Chair, that's 

12           enough that I have.  And I know that we're 

13           trying to move along, so just trying to be 

14           very straight to the point.  Thank you.

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

16           We're going to go to Assemblyman Cymbrowitz 

17           for a question.

18                  ASSEMBLYMAN CYMBROWITZ:  Thank you, 

19           Chair.  

20                  Good evening, everybody.  I want to 

21           throw out one question to everyone.  Based on 

22           working with not-for-profits for the last 

23           five -- let's just say the last five years, 

24           because of the capital plan that we had, how 


 1           easy or difficult was it to work with HCR?  

 2                  And based on the next five-year plan, 

 3           what changes would you want to see so that 

 4           the money can get out easier to 

 5           not-for-profits?

 6                  MS. HALM:  I can start first.  

 7                  HCR has been a great partner among our 

 8           partner networks, and they have reported 

 9           that, you know, that HCR is a good partner to 

10           work with.  So that that -- it doesn't seem 

11           to be the agency that is necessarily behind 

12           issues and problems.

13                  One of the issues that the nonprofits 

14           have reported to us is about the increasing 

15           insurance premiums and that it is difficult 

16           to do business in this state and that there 

17           are escalating costs, operating costs and 

18           insurance costs, and that that is a challenge 

19           that they certainly want HCR and other 

20           agencies to help partner to solve around.

21                  MS. BURNS-MAINE:  I think I would echo 

22           that from Baaba.  As folks know, CBC is a 

23           partner to HCR.  We've made incredible 

24           process both through the Legacy Cities 


 1           Program, the Participation Loan Program.  

 2           We've been able to deploy capital quite 

 3           quickly.  We're always standing at the ready 

 4           if there are things that folks want to figure 

 5           out and troubleshoot in order to make them 

 6           more efficient.  But we've been really happy 

 7           with the partnership of HCR and the 

 8           leadership there.

 9                  I would also echo what you heard from 

10           Baaba, that I think some of the concerns that 

11           we're hearing from not-for-profit developers 

12           are the increased costs for capital 

13           construction, supply chain issues, insurance 

14           premiums.  The costs go up, things are taking 

15           longer.  And those are things I think are 

16           even more universal than just even in 

17           New York that folks are dealing with.

18                  MS. ROBINSON:  I won't repeat what has 

19           just been said, but I agree with everything 

20           they said.  

21                  I want to share our primary 

22           interaction with HCR is through the AHC 

23           program, and HCR has been an incredible 

24           partner to Habitat for Humanity.


 1                  We also utilize the SONYMA loan 

 2           program, and they have a Habitat product that 

 3           we utilize which has also been fantastic.  

 4                  You know, our only hope is that we can 

 5           get our applications reviewed faster.  And I 

 6           think -- I think that's an issue across state 

 7           agencies, not unique to HCR.  So we're really 

 8           grateful for their partnership.

 9                  MS. WILLIAMS:  I would likewise echo 

10           what others have said.  

11                  I think the one clarification I would 

12           make, Chair Cymbrowitz, which speaks to also 

13           a question that I think Assemblymember 

14           Bichotte asked earlier, is that not all of 

15           the five-year Housing Plan utilizes 

16           non-for-profit developers specifically.  It's 

17           not clear what percentage goes to for-profit 

18           versus nonprofit developers, and that may 

19           vary also in different parts of the state.  

20                  And likewise, you know, some questions 

21           and concerns that I know many in downstate 

22           but also in parts of upstate have raised is 

23           what share of the projects are going to MWBE 

24           developers.  And we often see this 


 1           specifically because we often have nonprofits 

 2           being led by a person of color partnering 

 3           with an MWBE as a joint venture, but that's 

 4           not necessarily projects that always get 

 5           prioritized or moved through the pipeline.

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 7                  We move on to the Senate.

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Sorry, I lost my 

 9           mute button for a second.  

10                  Senator Brian Kavanagh, Housing chair. 

11                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thanks very much.

12                  And I want to thank everyone on this 

13           panel for your testimony today, but also each 

14           of you have been very important resources as 

15           we've tried to grapple with the housing 

16           crisis in the last couple of years and, more 

17           broadly, housing policy over many years -- 

18           you know, from the fair housing stuff we did 

19           to all of our attempts to fund these programs 

20           adequately.  So I appreciate everybody here.

21                  Just -- several of you testified that 

22           we should do $1.5 billion additional, and I 

23           think that's an annual figure for public 

24           housing in New York for NYCHA.  So just is 


 1           there -- the administration has said, well, 

 2           you know, we're still hopeful we're going to 

 3           see something from the federal government.  

 4           Is it -- it's just effectively none of you 

 5           are buying the notion that the state should 

 6           wait and see, and that we should in this 

 7           capital plan address that need in a serious 

 8           way.  Is that a fair summary?

 9                  MS. BURNS-MAINE:  I can only speak for 

10           my position, but on behalf of CPC I think 

11           that is a concern, that if we were to have 

12           seen a significant infusion of capital, it 

13           would have happened under, you know, a 

14           Democratic White House with control of the 

15           House and Senate wanting to invest a 

16           significant amount of money into public 

17           infrastructure.  And for a glimmering moment  

18           $80 billion for public housing capital 

19           nationally was included.  

20                  Unfortunately, it does not seem 

21           like -- I mean, the bill is stalled 

22           indefinitely.  I have not heard much hopeful 

23           things about it.  

24                  I think my concern and our concern for 


 1           NYCHA residents is that they have been 

 2           waiting already too long.  We are all 

 3           familiar with the conditions that are 

 4           impacting NYCHA residents' health and safety 

 5           on a day-to-day basis.  And the fear is we 

 6           cannot continue to wait.  These programs take 

 7           a long time even just to deploy the money to 

 8           get things moving.  

 9                  So it's our position that NYCHA should 

10           be given all the tools possible from the city 

11           and state.  At this point it feels like as 

12           New Yorkers we need to start talking about 

13           how, not if, just given the way conditions 

14           have deteriorated.  And I don't think that it 

15           is responsible for us to keep holding out 

16           hope for the money at the federal level.

17                  MS. FEE:  And to build on Erin's 

18           comments, so New York Housing Conference put 

19           out recommendations for the next five-year 

20           Housing Plan, and in coalition with 16 

21           organizations we all agreed that absent 

22           federal funding, the city and state should 

23           work together, and we would like to see each 

24           level of government allocate $1.5 billion 


 1           annually.  

 2                  And I would just say that that 

 3           long-term strategy and agreement between city 

 4           and state is equally as important as the 

 5           funding this year.  NYCHA shouldn't just be 

 6           getting one-off funding, not knowing what to 

 7           expect year after year.  There is urgency and 

 8           we know what their needs are and we really 

 9           call on the Governor and the Legislature to 

10           work together with Mayor Adams to establish a 

11           long-term funding plan.

12                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  I think as you 

13           know, I agree.  We can talk about what the 

14           number is, but it is very important.

15                  One quick question.  Mary Robinson, 

16           you mentioned lead and asbestos abatement 

17           funding.  Do you have a number on that?  I 

18           think I didn't see one in the testimony.  Is 

19           there a proposed amount for --

20                  MS. ROBINSON:  So we've looked into 

21           what costs we would have, and we have come up 

22           with 12 to 15 million.  

23                  I know there's been previous funds 

24           through the Attorney General's office and --


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We will have 

 2           some people later on testifying about the 

 3           lead issues who may have some more 

 4           information for the members.

 5                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Okay, good.  So 

 6           just, Mary, if you do have any follow-up, if 

 7           you could let us know.  But thank you.

 8                  MS. ROBINSON:  Yeah, absolutely.  

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

10                  Assembly.

11                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We go to 

12           Assemblyman Epstein.

13                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thank you, 

14           Chair.  Thank you, panelists, for being here.  

15                  Just on -- since we were talking about 

16           NYCHA, just to stay on that topic for a 

17           second.  So are you all supporting not just 

18           capital money but operating money for NYCHA 

19           from the state coffers?  I know, Rachel, you 

20           just mentioned capital, right?

21                  MS. FEE:  So I -- I mean, I would 

22           really like to see what the city is asking 

23           for in terms of -- you know, I know that 

24           NYCHA is suffering a shortfall, and we'd like 


 1           to see some funds out of ERAP or whatever 

 2           funding is available to make up their 

 3           operating deficit due to tenant loss of 

 4           income this year.

 5                  But, you know, I think it would be 

 6           good for -- before, you know, we put together 

 7           a position around operating funds to fully 

 8           understand what they're looking for and also 

 9           how that fits in with a long-term strategy to 

10           finance capital repairs.  It should really go 

11           hand in hand.

12                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thank you.  

13                  And then, Barika, can you mention 

14           Good Cause as a tool in the tool belt?  You 

15           know, I just want to underscore how important 

16           it is.  I think we're talking about, what, 

17           4 million households across the state that 

18           this Good Cause would impact, is that right?  

19                  MS. WILLIAMS:  I believe that's right.  

20           And I know a group of -- a panel will come 

21           later.  But I also think it's important and 

22           somebody highlighted earlier this is 

23           something that has been in place since the 

24           '70s just across the river in New Jersey, is 


 1           in place in multiple other states and 

 2           counties, and is an opportunity for us to 

 3           stabilize and also to really address a key 

 4           piece in what is a complicated and complex 

 5           housing tool belt.  But this piece is clearly 

 6           needed in order to secure some necessary 

 7           housing protections across the state.

 8                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Finally, I only 

 9           have a minute left, but there's two more 

10           topics I want to raise and people can answer 

11           them, just really on ADUs.  You know, we saw 

12           a good plan from the Governor.  You know, we 

13           have legislation in the Assembly and the 

14           Senate driven by the leadership of Senator 

15           Harckham.  I'm wondering where -- I know I've 

16           seen most of you plan to support ADU.  I'm 

17           wondering how you respond to some of the 

18           criticism we've heard tonight.  And if people 

19           can be quick, because I do want to talk about 

20           421-a too, if possible.

21                  MS. FEE:  I understand that localities 

22           want to maintain local control of zoning.  

23           But local control of zoning has also led to 

24           our current crisis in exclusionary zoning 


 1           across the state.  

 2                  So, you know, I do think input from 

 3           localities across the state is really 

 4           important in crafting legislation, and their 

 5           concerns are really important.  But I do 

 6           think we are falling behind other states in 

 7           really unlocking housing opportunities by 

 8           using state authority.

 9                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  I know I'm out 

10           of time so I can't really talk about 421-a, 

11           but I just really want to reemphasize the 

12           need for ending the -- not going forward with 

13           the Preservation Trust as well.

14                  Thank you all, and thank you, Chairs.  

15           I'm sorry I couldn't get all the responses 

16           from everyone here.

17                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  To the Senate.  

18                  Oh, you do not have anyone, right?  So 

19           I think we will go to Assemblyman Burdick.

20                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Thank you, 

21           Chairs.  And thank you, panelists, for your 

22           advocacy and your testimony.  

23                  Barika Williams, I want to thank you 

24           for pressing for passage of the Housing 


 1           Access Voucher Program, the codification of 

 2           the five-year capital plans, and other of 

 3           those proposals in there.

 4                  Erin Burns-Maine, we've worked 

 5           together before, and I want to commend you 

 6           for the work you do.  

 7                  I'm wondering whether you have any 

 8           programs for housing for returning citizens 

 9           from our correctional facilities, and how can 

10           we partner with HCR on that, given that the 

11           commissioner has stated that permanent 

12           housing is really their mission, rather than 

13           transitional?  However she did say, in 

14           response to my questions, that she would and 

15           was willing to circle back with me on that.  

16           And perhaps CPC and others can be involved.

17                  MS. BURNS-MAINE:  So I'd be happy to 

18           start.  So thank you so much for that 

19           question.  

20                  We agree that housing is kind of the 

21           platform, the jumping-off place for 

22           everything else, especially for folks 

23           returning home from incarceration settings.  

24           While we would need to look specifically at 


 1           the program of what we have financed in our 

 2           portfolio, which we would be happy to do, we 

 3           stand at the ready to partner with the state, 

 4           with others, on any sort of program that 

 5           would help create housing opportunities for 

 6           folks who need to get back on their feet.

 7                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  That's super.  

 8           Thank you.  Perhaps offline we can have 

 9           further conversation.

10                  A question for Rachel Fee.  What did 

11           you have in mind when you stated that the 

12           state use of state-owned land should be 

13           considered to create housing opportunities?  

14           Do you have any specific agencies or 

15           properties?  And how might we pursue that?  

16                  MS. FEE:  So I think it would be great 

17           if we had a survey of state-owned land, you 

18           know, and maybe a review process where the 

19           state housing agency has some sort of role in 

20           identifying state-owned land that is suitable 

21           for housing, before any disposition happens.  

22                  And also an evaluation of those 

23           opportunities across the state.  I think we 

24           saw with the Brooklyn initiative under the 


 1           last Housing Plan a really great use of 

 2           underutilized state-owned land on a hospital 

 3           site, and I think there are more 

 4           opportunities like that across the state.  

 5           And it would reduce costs for producing 

 6           affordable housing if we can use public land.

 7                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  This too I'd be 

 8           delighted to pursue this offline with you and 

 9           to see whether there's something that can be 

10           developed with HCR.

11                  MS. FEE:  Great.  Thank you.

12                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Thank you.

13                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

14                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

15                  So this -- we thank all the panelists 

16           for being with us today, and thank you for 

17           your input and the work you do in the 

18           communities.

19                  So next we're going to have Panel B:  

20           Neighbors Together, Fannie Lou Diane, leader; 

21           Red Hook West Tenant Association, Karen 

22           Blondel, president; VOCAL-NY, Kassi Keith, 

23           VOCAL-NY homeless union leader; 

24           CASA-Community Action for Safe Apartments, 


 1           Pablo Estupiñan, director.

 2                  You can go in that order.

 3                  MS. DIANE:  Good evening.  My name is 

 4           Fannie Lou Diane, and I'm a member leader 

 5           here at Neighbors Together in Brooklyn, and 

 6           also a member of Housing Justice for All. 

 7           I want to thank the Legislature for the 

 8           opportunity to testify today.  

 9                  I am testifying today to highlight the 

10           dire need for the New York State Assembly to 

11           address the housing and homelessness crisis 

12           by passing critical legislation that will 

13           move us out of the cycle of short-term 

14           responses and into long-term investments and 

15           safe, stable affordable housing for all 

16           New Yorkers. 

17                  It is interesting that many of the 

18           members who have spoken today have 

19           intersected my organization, have intersected 

20           at some point.  But I would be remiss if I 

21           didn't mention the human aspect, which is why 

22           I'm here today.  

23                  I myself understand all too well the 

24           struggle that many low-income and homeless 


 1           New Yorkers are facing.  In 2019, I was 

 2           illegally evicted by my landlord who refused 

 3           to remediate toxic black mold, several mice 

 4           infestations, and three bedbug infestations.  

 5           The constant exposure to toxins and rodents 

 6           made me severely ill, and after fighting and 

 7           beating cancer, my health remains severely 

 8           impacted to this day.  

 9                  There is a human element to these 

10           policies.  People's lives hang in the 

11           balance.  As you look at the real checks and 

12           balances, I urge you not to just think about 

13           the budget cost but the human cost.  How will 

14           the policies that you vote on today impact 

15           the lives of people that you are called to 

16           serve?  Will we end up as collateral damage 

17           in a flawed system?  

18                  The eviction moratorium ended on 

19           January 15 of this month, and now over 

20           200,000 households face eviction.  The 

21           state's failure to act represents a total 

22           abdication of responsibility to protect 

23           tenants and address the homelessness crisis. 

24           It is unacceptable, and COVID showed us how 


 1           many households were on the brink of 

 2           homelessness. 

 3                  And even with ERAP funding, many 

 4           households will still be remaining in debt.  

 5           So without better policies in place, severely 

 6           rent-burdened households will continue to 

 7           struggle and can easily end up cycling in and 

 8           out of homelessness. 

 9                  In this year's budget the state must 

10           move from emergency responses to COVID to 

11           investing in permanent, forward-looking 

12           protection for low-income households and 

13           homeless New Yorkers -- such as Good Cause 

14           Eviction and the Housing Access Voucher 

15           program.

16                  If Good Cause Eviction were law when I 

17           was living in my old apartment, I would be 

18           able to fight against the dangerous living 

19           conditions in my building and have them 

20           remediated instead of being illegally evicted 

21           and homeless for the past two and a half 

22           years.  I would have probably been on my path 

23           to pursue a Ph.D., I would have probably been 

24           on my path on my career, but here we are now. 


 1           I'm struggling to find a place to live and 

 2           spend all my energy fighting to keep my head 

 3           above water. 

 4                  In order to rehouse people who are 

 5           already homeless, and to address the problem 

 6           from the other end, the state must pass the 

 7           Housing Access Voucher Program.  If the 

 8           Housing Access Voucher Program were law when 

 9           I was illegally evicted, I would have been 

10           given a voucher and I would have been able to 

11           find an apartment with fair market rent.

12                  In order to address current housing 

13           disparities and create an equitable and just 

14           housing system statewide, any budget put 

15           forward in New York State must include the 

16           Good Cause Eviction, the Housing Access 

17           Voucher program, and additional money for the 

18           Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act, 

19           HONDA.  That has to be statewide.  

20                  We are asking, for each program, for 

21           at least a billion dollars in funding to make 

22           sure that this runs smoothly and adequately 

23           for all New Yorkers.  Governor Hochul's 

24           budget unfortunately rebrands an already 


 1           broken system.  I and millions of other 

 2           low-income New Yorkers need New York State to 

 3           finally start investing in long-term 

 4           solutions that provide equitable and just 

 5           housing for all. 

 6                  Housing should be a human right.  

 7           Good, clean, safe, and affordable housing 

 8           should just be the standard, and not the 

 9           option. 

10                  Thank you again.  My name is Fannie 

11           Lou Diane.  And I've got more of these things 

12           I've talked about referenced in my testimony 

13           that was submitted.  Thank you.            

14                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

15           being with us today.            

16                  Next, Karen Blondel, Red Hook West 

17           Tenant Association.

18                  MS. BLONDEL:  Good evening, New York 

19           State Senate and Assembly members.  Greetings 

20           to the chairs, Chair Cymbrowitz, my 

21           Assemblymember, Marcela Mitaynes, and my 

22           State Senator, Jabari Brisport.  I also want 

23           to thank Rachel Fee and others for supporting 

24           public housing.  


 1                  I am the only public housing resident 

 2           making a statement on this call.  I live in 

 3           Red Hook Housing, but I'm also a Harvard LOEB 

 4           Fellow with the GSD.  So I am doing this from 

 5           Massachusetts at this time.  

 6                  I want to acknowledge that I speak for 

 7           myself as a resident but also for many other 

 8           residents, as well as the authentic community 

 9           organizers and organizations who are our 

10           allies in Red Hook and beyond.  As the newly 

11           elected president of Red Hook West Resident 

12           Association and the cofounder of the Public 

13           Housing Civic Association, I'm here to speak 

14           about the ERAP, the Emergency Rental 

15           Assistance Program, that was not shared 

16           equitably with NYCHA residents. 

17                  The federal government approved this 

18           national pandemic relief fund and tasked 

19           New York State with equitably disbursing it 

20           to all in need.  I even recall our current 

21           Governor of New York State, Governor Hochul, 

22           promising to fix nearly two decades of 

23           ongoing crisis in New York City public 

24           housing while being interviewed by the 


 1           Gothamist on August 27, 2021. 

 2                  How could the legislation regarding 

 3           who gets ERAP leave residents from NYCHA 

 4           completely out?  The way the resources and 

 5           information was trickled down in fragments to 

 6           my community is unacceptable.  That's why we 

 7           have Resident Council, CCOP, and other 

 8           organizations.  

 9                  And with that being said, the 

10           additional cost on public housing residents 

11           has been residual cost-burdened -- not just 

12           the rate, but the things that you have to 

13           also pay for like transportation.  We had to 

14           pivot to buying things online, service fees 

15           for deliveries, all kinds of things like 

16           that.  

17                  I'm keenly aware, as the only public 

18           housing resident and newly elected president 

19           of Red Hook West, that speaking today does 

20           not cover all of the issues that me and some 

21           of my allies have.  And for that, I 

22           apologize, because I would love to talk about 

23           capital and operational costs and who this 

24           DASNY organization is that I'm just hearing 


 1           about. 

 2                  The difference between low-income 

 3           housing and affordable housing in New York 

 4           City is the dense concentration we have of 

 5           low-income public housing in New York City. 

 6           It may be different upstate, but in New York 

 7           we have over 600,000 people living in public 

 8           housing.  

 9                  The actual cost burden has not been 

10           just about rent, but about residual cost 

11           burdens of living through a global pandemic.  

12           And for New York State to make decisions that 

13           leave the most vulnerable population out of 

14           emergency rental resources, information, and 

15           amenities in a time of crisis is shameful. 

16           It's shameful.  It is unacceptable for 

17           New York State to once again leave NYCHA out 

18           of a critical resource.  

19                  And I heard the commissioner, who is 

20           not on here anymore -- because I have been on 

21           this call since 2:00, before it even 

22           started -- but I heard her try to give hope 

23           about the Build It Back {sic} program, about 

24           the infrastructure bill.  We've been going 


 1           through this since the Compromise of 1877.  

 2                  Enough is enough.  We need NYCHA 

 3           funding, and at a minimum we need to make 

 4           sure that the State Senate and our Assembly 

 5           use zeal, zeal in trying to make sure that 

 6           public housing residents are not evicted 

 7           after this moratorium stops.            

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.            

 9                  MS. BLONDEL:  I will close by saying 

10           it is because of state legislation that 

11           public housing residents are being excluded 

12           from ERAP.  We demand our state government to 

13           be accountable and creative in regards to 

14           making sure all residents of public housing 

15           are served in any investments or prioritizing 

16           in the state budget in public housing to fill 

17           the ERAP gap and address operational and 

18           capital needs. 

19                  The rest of this I have submitted -- 

20                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thanks.  Right.  

21           I was about to say, Ms. Blondel, that all the 

22           testimony -- both your testimony as well as 

23           there have been a number of people who have 

24           submitted testimony who did not wish --             


 1                  MS. BLONDEL:  But I shouldn't be 

 2           rushed when I'm the only public housing 

 3           resident. 

 4                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  You're not 

 5           being rushed.  Everybody has the same amount 

 6           of time.  And a lot of us, myself included, 

 7           represent --

 8                  MS. BLONDEL:  Why, when I'm the only            

 9           representative from my community on this 

10           call -- 

11                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN: -- public 

12           housing developments, and we work closely 

13           with our residents associations. 

14                  So next we go to VOCAL-NY.            

15                  MS. KEITH:  Thank you.  My name is 

16           Kassi Keith.  I'm the leader with VOCAL-NY. 

17           Thank you for taking my testimony today.  

18                  I have been living in the DHS shelter 

19           system since February of 2019.  I have been 

20           placed in the Kings Hotel since September of 

21           2021.  In those 35 months the city and state 

22           of New York have paid nearly $140,000 to keep 

23           me in a shelter that offers no service, no 

24           real service. 


 1                  As of right now, there is no program 

 2           in place that can help me get out of the 

 3           shelter system because, despite being a 

 4           resident of this city for over 36 years and 

 5           having over 30 years of work experience, I'm 

 6           still not able to become a citizen of this 

 7           country. 

 8                  It is baffling to me that shelters 

 9           cost almost $4,000 a month, even though basic 

10           services are not being provided to clients. 

11           We have been served frozen dinners and canned 

12           food every day.  We end up getting sicker 

13           because of the food.  Myself and others are 

14           constantly going to the emergency room due to 

15           chest pains, elevated blood pressure, low or 

16           high blood sugar, because the food is not 

17           healthy and we cannot cook healthy meals for 

18           ourselves.

19                  My current hotel room gets flooded 

20           every time we have a heavy rain -- four times 

21           since I have moved in.  They won't fix the 

22           window, which allows the rain to come into my 

23           room.  They won't change the carpet or 

24           deep-clean either.  Therefore I'm forced to 


 1           live in a room filled with mold.  

 2                  When donations come in, residents are 

 3           the last to see them.  Staff take whatever 

 4           they want and leave us the rest. 

 5                  I joined VOCAL-NY to fight for the 

 6           Housing Access Voucher Program, which would 

 7           be the only rental subsidy program available 

 8           to folks in my situation.  If funded at 

 9           $1 billion, it would allow everyone in the 

10           shelter system to access a market-rate 

11           voucher and ultimately save the state money 

12           as people left the shelter. 

13                  With the Housing Voucher Program, I 

14           could get an apartment of my own where I 

15           could cook my own food, come and go as I 

16           please, and have guests whenever I wanted to.  

17           This means I could focus on getting my mental 

18           and physical health in order and get back to 

19           work. 

20                  Not only would the state save money on 

21           the monthly cost of shelter, but I could also 

22           participate fully in my community without 

23           being forced to transfer from one shelter or 

24           hotel to another.  I could put down real 


 1           roots and contribute to the economy and civic 

 2           life of this state in even greater ways, all 

 3           for less than the cost of keeping me in 

 4           temporary shelters. 

 5                  If the state cannot get the Housing 

 6           Access Voucher Program passed this year, it 

 7           will force me to spend another year in a 

 8           costly shelter that provides food that is 

 9           harmful to my health and offers me no way 

10           out.  I can't get into permanent shelter, 

11           into permanent housing.  Shelter residents 

12           have suffered greatly over this pandemic, and 

13           we are out of patience.  We must prioritize 

14           passing and funding HAVP.  We must prioritize 

15           and dignify -- the dignity and the safety of 

16           people like me.

17                  It's inhumane to keep people in the 

18           shelter system indefinitely with no way out. 

19           Passing the housing budget program is a moral 

20           issue.  Lawmakers have the power to give us 

21           back our dignity, our lives, and restore our 

22           American dream to contribute to the growth of 

23           this unique and great country. 

24                  Thank you.            


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

 2           Ms. Keith.

 3                  So now we go to CASA.  

 4                  MR. ESTUPIÑAN:  Good evening, 

 5           Assemblymembers and Senators, as well as the 

 6           chairs.  Thank you for the opportunity to 

 7           testify tonight. 

 8                  My name is Pablo Estupiñan.  I'm the 

 9           director of CASA in the Southwest Bronx. 

10           We're a grassroots, member-led tenant 

11           organization representing over 2,000 members. 

12           Our work is really organizing buildings, and 

13           we also work with local, city, and state 

14           campaigns, with members of the Right to 

15           Counsel NYC Coalition as well as Housing 

16           Justice for All.  

17                  So while we're here in support of and 

18           in solidarity with what folks have mentioned 

19           around the Housing Access Voucher Program and 

20           Good Cause, there's two things I wanted to 

21           testify in favor of today. 

22                  The first is the passing of statewide 

23           Right to Counsel legislation.  Thank you to 

24           all our sponsors who are here tonight.  We 


 1           already know that in New York City that Right 

 2           to Counsel has been a game changer.  In the 

 3           last three years, over 80 percent of tenants 

 4           represented don't get evicted, which proves 

 5           our point around evictions aren't always 

 6           about money -- they're about power.  

 7                  At CASA we do believe that no one 

 8           should ever be evicted.  So some of you will 

 9           see us launch an Eviction-Free Bronx campaign 

10           tomorrow morning, along with an Eviction 

11           Defense Network.  We knew the day would come 

12           where there would be no moratorium and that 

13           we needed to support our neighbors to stop 

14           evictions and, as it's been well documented, 

15           the cycle of displacement and what happens 

16           when people are evicted. 

17                  I know this is a budget hearing, so 

18           what I wanted to testify in favor of is that 

19           we are, at Right to Counsel, working on a 

20           cost-estimate analysis.  It should be out 

21           soon, in a couple of weeks in the coming 

22           months, and so our initial research shows 

23           that it would cost at least 500 million to 

24           implement Right to Counsel in the state.  So 


 1           that's already including New York City, which 

 2           is almost 200 million a year already, and 

 3           that's already funded through HRA.  So it 

 4           would be an additional support for upstate 

 5           tenants. 

 6                  And while we applaud -- we acknowledge 

 7           the increased $35 million in funding for 

 8           legal service providers -- but we know that 

 9           that doesn't go far enough.  And we estimate 

10           that 45,000 to 50,000 people would be served 

11           annually through Right to Counsel.  

12                  The second thing I wanted to really 

13           make sure I testify about is ERAP.  We need 

14           additional funding, so we are advocating for 

15           2 billion.  So a lot of our CASA members -- 

16           we are in the poorest urban congressional 

17           district.  If our members can't afford to 

18           live where we organize, there's nowhere for 

19           them to go in the city, right? 

20                  And so I wanted to share with you all, 

21           we did outreach to over 75 buildings over the 

22           summer.  We have helped hundreds of people 

23           apply.  And still the reality of our members 

24           is we're not in a different place from what 


 1           we started in.  Even those that got help 

 2           didn't get the full amount.  Those that did 

 3           get some amount, that got it covered, are now 

 4           in months of arrears.  And there are many 

 5           people who didn't know about it, which is why 

 6           we spent our resources to go out there and 

 7           and get the word out. 

 8                  So I just wanted to highlight those 

 9           two really in particular, that as y'all might 

10           know, one in four eviction cases filed in the 

11           pandemic are in the Bronx.  So we really hope 

12           that folks in power really think about the 

13           Bronx.  We're often ignored and not talked 

14           about, or ever get the resources we need. 

15                  Thank you.  And that concludes my 

16           testimony.            

17                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

18           being with us tonight. 

19                  We will go first to Assemblyman 

20           Epstein and then to the Senate.            

21                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thank you, 

22           Chair.  

23                  And I really want to thank the 

24           panelists, Fannie Lou Diane, Karen Blondel, 


 1           and Kassi Keith.  Thank you for all your 

 2           really -- your stories that are really 

 3           impactful.  I'm glad we're here to listen to 

 4           them and to stand with you, because we have a 

 5           housing crisis that we need to manage.  So 

 6           thank you.  

 7                  I just want -- a couple things.  One 

 8           is just there's a couple of pieces we're 

 9           trying to push forward here, as you know:  

10           Not extending the 421-a program, because it's 

11           giving away billions of dollars; getting 

12           accessory dwelling unit legislation to allow 

13           more affordable housing; really talking about 

14           HONDA and turning -- converting old hotels 

15           into real housing, to the additional 

16           protections for unstabilized tenants and 

17           Good Cause.  The last one is really having a 

18           real commitment to funding public housing. 

19                  I wanted to make sure that we're all 

20           on the same page.  These are priorities for 

21           all your organizations and things that you're 

22           talking about.  Oh also, I forgot Chair 

23           Kavanagh-Cymbrowitz's bill, about a real 

24           rental assistance program in our state.  


 1                  I want to know if people who are 

 2           feeling -- if this is what this panel is 

 3           really pushing for.  I want to know if 

 4           there's anything we're missing.

 5                  MS. BLONDEL:  I'm pushing for funding 

 6           for public housing.  I've been tracking the 

 7           infrastructure bill, the Build It Back bill.  

 8           I worked with my congresswoman and 

 9           (inaudible) from Red Hook, when it went from 

10           one bill to the other.  

11                  I am a Black woman living in public 

12           housing, and I'm also in Harvard, and I'm 

13           here to really figure out why do we keep 

14           being treated like second-class citizens 

15           here?  Especially because New York City is a 

16           sanctuary city, I would think that at least 

17           they would think about the bare minimum of 

18           stabilizing public housing. 

19                  And I just want to say for the record, 

20           I know the difference between the blueprint 

21           and privatization.  I actually teach it.  And 

22           I'm in favor of the blueprint.  Since 

23           everybody else came with their comment, as a 

24           public housing resident, I am in favor of the 


 1           blueprint.            

 2                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  And thank you.  

 3           And so would you be in favor of the blueprint 

 4           versus federal and state funding?  Would 

 5           you -- I just -- there's concern around, you 

 6           know, moving away from Section 9 to 

 7           Section 8, and the protections that Section 9 

 8           provides.            

 9                  MS. BLONDEL:  Right.  So with the 

10           blueprint, we stay Section 9?  I would be 

11           okay -- yeah.  The blueprint keeps things 

12           Section 9.  Privatization turns things into 

13           Section 8.  

14                  I even have students who have done 

15           eviction maps that show that the increase in 

16           evictions in public housing is in the RAD 

17           conversions.  Okay?

18                  Now, I want to say just one more thing 

19           about Red Hook.  We received half a billion 

20           dollars in Sandy recovery on the outside.  We 

21           are like a Hudson Yard with all kinds of 

22           things going on right outside my front door 

23           throughout the whole campus, including the 

24           cutting down of 500 trees.  We can't go from 


 1           that to privatization that will next wrap the 

 2           building and the actual tenant up in the 

 3           building to get the job done.  

 4                  With the blueprint we are guaranteed, 

 5           going line by line, where we have a lot of 

 6           residents who are over 65, and they would be 

 7           still housed on that campus.  It just makes 

 8           better sense that we can control whether or 

 9           not the work is being done properly.  

10                  And we also need to maintain a bigger 

11           workforce.  Meaning the City Council just 

12           testified less than six months ago that 

13           New York City Housing Authority is only 

14           spending 6 percent of its budget, while the 

15           average other agencies in New York City spend 

16           60 percent.  That calls for an increase -- 

17           all hands on deck, almost like a World War II 

18           movement where we get everybody up and 

19           working.            

20                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

21                  MS. DIANE:  And just to echo what 

22           Sister Karen said, she mentioned about RAD 

23           and how evictions are happening.  We have to 

24           think about also those folks who are already 


 1           homeless, who were already dealing with this 

 2           way before COVID.  

 3                  And so we're not talking -- we need to 

 4           be talking solutions since yesterday, okay?   

 5           Because it's an important -- I mean, since 

 6           the state failed to enact more protection for 

 7           folks for the eviction moratorium, we now 

 8           leave open at least a space for 1.6 million 

 9           people to be evicted. That's horrible. 

10                  You know, so I totally agree with what 

11           Sister Karen said, I totally agree with what 

12           Brother Pablo said.  You know, we are 

13           reacting and trying to respond to a need that 

14           should have been addressed a long time ago, 

15           years ago, that is really deeply racist, 

16           systematically gendered as well, and all 

17           these other different issues that we all know 

18           about.  We could sit here and talk about this 

19           stuff for hours.  We all know what we need to 

20           do.  

21                  We need to have right to counsel, 

22           which I didn't have when I was being evicted, 

23           which would have definitely helped me.  Good 

24           Cause Eviction, it's going to be a good thing 


 1           for everyone, even including folks in 

 2           NYCHA -- as someone who grew up in NYCHA.  

 3           So, you know -- and banning winter evictions.  

 4           People are being evicted now.  It's 

 5           egregious.  It is traumatic.  I can't express 

 6           how horrible an eviction is and how long it 

 7           takes to recuperate.  Mine was in 2019.  I'm 

 8           still dealing with the ramifications of that.            

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

10           your responses. 

11                  We now move on to the Senate.  I 

12           believe Senator Kavanagh was first.            

13                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Okay.  Thanks.  I 

14           will be quick. 

15                  Just to say, first of all, thank you 

16           to this panel.  I'm really glad that you're 

17           prioritizing these things.  We have been 

18           pushing hard for several of them for several 

19           years now.  We originally introduced the 

20           Housing Access Voucher bill in February of 

21           2020, about three weeks before we ever heard 

22           of COVID -- or at least I didn't think it was 

23           something here -- and the Senate last year in 

24           our one-house budget put $200 million into 


 1           getting that program started.  So we are very 

 2           committed to it, and many of us -- and I'm 

 3           glad there's such active support.  

 4                  I do want to acknowledge something 

 5           that Karen Blondel said, which is that there 

 6           are about half a million public housing 

 7           residents in the state.  It is very difficult 

 8           to get all the perspectives and all the 

 9           representatives into these hearings, and I -- 

10           you know, the chairs and the staff do work 

11           hard at that, but I think it is an 

12           unfortunate thing today that we have just one 

13           public housing resident testifying in all of 

14           these panels.  

15                  And we will, and certainly in my 

16           district -- you know, Senator Krueger has had 

17           a community-oriented town hall on the budget 

18           that we all do in Manhattan every year, and I 

19           think that we will make sure that we have 

20           other opportunities for public housing 

21           residents and others to express their point 

22           of view.  But it's -- you know, it is 

23           something that -- and thank you for carrying 

24           the perspective of half a million people 


 1           today, because that's not something anybody 

 2           should expect of you.            

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Excuse me, 

 4           Senator.  It's just -- I don't know if we 

 5           want to stop the clock, we'll just give him 

 6           some extra time. 

 7                  I just wanted to point out that we did 

 8           not have other public housing residents or 

 9           officers of public housing request to testify 

10           at this hearing, so we're actually very 

11           grateful that Ms. Blondel is here with us 

12           today.  We wanted to make sure she had an 

13           opportunity to be here, and I would agree 

14           with you that we will be having other 

15           meetings, it's not just -- the budget is not 

16           the only place where we get to interact with 

17           housing advocates.            

18                  Can we add a couple minutes back to 

19           Senator Kavanagh's time, please?  You can go 

20           on, and we'll -- 

21                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you for that 

22           clarification.  And I was not suggesting that 

23           there was any active effort to exclude.  I 

24           think there were some tenant leaders who kind 


 1           of found out -- maybe missed deadlines to 

 2           submit requests to testify and then found out 

 3           at the last minute.  

 4                  But I know there are many people out 

 5           there that are watching and are concerned 

 6           that the perspective of public housing 

 7           residents are fully addressed in our budget 

 8           negotiations. 

 9                  But again, as I said, I wasn't 

10           suggesting that anybody -- in either house, 

11           the Legislature or anybody on the staff, was 

12           trying to prevent that perspective from being 

13           presented here.  So I think I actually 

14           will -- I think I will actually stop there.  

15           The clock is out, and I know it's late.  But 

16           thank you. 

17                  And just one to Pablo:  No one forgets 

18           the Bronx as long as CASA is in the house. So 

19           we appreciate all of your advocacy and effort 

20           to us as chairs and certainly to my Bronx 

21           colleagues as well.  Thank you.            

22                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We now go to 

23           Assemblywoman Niou.

24                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  Hello.  Thank you 


 1           so much for being patient tonight.  It's 

 2           already 7:00, but I just wanted to say thank 

 3           you for waiting and testifying.  It's been a 

 4           long night. 

 5                  President Blondel, have officials 

 6           running the ERAP program been able to give 

 7           you any estimates of when they will process 

 8           NYCHA applications?            

 9                  MS. BLONDEL:  So no, they haven't. I'm 

10           also talking from a leadership and a person 

11           who lives in public housing who, during the 

12           pandemic, I had to pivot -- yes, I still had 

13           work and worked through the pandemic.  I 

14           actually worked harder, because I gave out a 

15           million pounds of produce -- not only in 

16           Red Hook, but beyond, into Sunset, into 

17           Gowanus, and at times even into the Bronx.

18                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  Thank you for 

19           doing that.            

20                  MS. BLONDEL:  But I also found out 

21           about ERAP two days before the deadline for 

22           my own -- personal.  And at that point, 

23           public housing still wasn't aware, in 

24           numbers, of it.  So I put my own application 


 1           in because I said I don't know how long this 

 2           pandemic is going to last, I don't know how 

 3           long I'm going to have a job, and I need to 

 4           safeguard myself. 

 5                  I got a letter about a week ago -- 

 6           well, about a month ago, that said, hey, 

 7           we're running out of funds, so you might not 

 8           get this money.  But it leaves public housing 

 9           in limbo.  And at the same time while I'm 

10           able to recover, my residents and other 

11           people in public housing have already been 

12           turned down by HRA because the ERAP doesn't 

13           really say you're not going to get it.  It's 

14           almost like -- 

15                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  Have you had any 

16           success in getting in contact with them, or 

17           have they been unresponsive?            

18                  MS. BLONDEL:  I would have to get back 

19           to you on that when I speak to our residents 

20           this week.            

21                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  Okay.  And right 

22           now, I've heard from a lot of my own 

23           residents and my own -- residents in NYCHA  

24           and, you know, right now a lot of folks are 


 1           very worried about evictions when it comes to 

 2           folks in NYCHA.  And do you think that a 

 3           large number of folks would end up homeless 

 4           if they're not able to get into this program?            

 5                  MS. BLONDEL:  I sure hope not.  First 

 6           of all, let's not forget that 6 million 

 7           people migrated to New York City, and that 

 8           was before urban renewal.  A lot of those 

 9           families, including myself, have been 

10           veal-penned in public housing for 30, 

11           40 years. It's not that we don't want to go 

12           anyplace else, but we've been veal-penned 

13           there.  

14                  And let me explain to you.  I'm quite 

15           happy to stay in that little place, 

16           especially because I'm going to be a senior 

17           soon, but not if it can't be stabilized.  It 

18           needs to be stabilized.  

19                  I see the same pipes from 1939, rises, 

20           chase walls, all kind of plumbing and 

21           electrical wires.  I paid a 30-year mortgage 

22           in my apartment in regards to my rent, yet I 

23           have no equity, and nobody took care of the 

24           building.  That's not right.  I should be 


 1           able to age in place in Red Hook, even if 

 2           it's in public housing.  So something has to 

 3           be done.            

 4                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  Thank you.            

 5                  MS. BLONDEL:  You're welcome.  Thank 

 6           you.            

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Yes, we have 

 8           Senator Brisport.  Is that all right, Helene?            

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes.  Sure.

10                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

11                  SENATOR BRISPORT:  Thank you, 

12           Madam Chair. 

13                  Ms. Blondel, I really loved your 

14           testimony, and it is truly an honor and a 

15           pleasure to represent you in the State 

16           Senate.  So I have a simple question for you, 

17           and also Ms. Fannie Lou, because I think I 

18           heard you say you grew up in public housing.  

19                  So I'm going to run some numbers real 

20           quick and then ask you just simple questions. 

21           So my office got a response from OTDA a few 

22           days ago saying that they had -- as of 

23           November 14th, when the portal was closed, 

24           they had received about 27,000 applications 


 1           from NYCHA, with estimated payments totalling 

 2           about $102 million.  

 3                  And I want to remind everyone 

 4           watching, listening, that in the original 

 5           ERAP program when we first made it, the State 

 6           Legislature allocated around $100 million for 

 7           private landlords who might be excluded from 

 8           the program.  And when we extended it, we 

 9           added an additional $150 million, for a total 

10           of $250 million for private landlords. 

11                  So my question for Ms. Karen and 

12           Ms. Fannie Lou:  How does it make you feel 

13           knowing that we were able to find money at 

14           first, and then again, for private landlords 

15           to the tune of $250 million and are still not 

16           allocating anything for NYCHA, which is 

17           pushed to the end of line, and now the 

18           program is out of money?  Do you think that's 

19           fair?            

20                  MS. BLONDEL:  That is absolutely not 

21           fair.  Even when you had quoted that number 

22           versus how much money was given out, 

23           102 million to stabilize 27,000 units or 

24           families in public housing -- when we know we 


 1           have over 600,000 to a million people living 

 2           in public housing -- it's a small drop in the 

 3           bucket.  

 4                  I'm sure, because it's agency to 

 5           agency, you guys can negotiate some type of 

 6           payment in lieu of taxes that covers the rent 

 7           of those 27,000 people.  You know, that's 

 8           number one. 

 9                  How does it makes me feel?  It makes 

10           me feel like I'm being treated like a 

11           second-class or third-class citizen in my own 

12           country, in the country that I love.  In a 

13           country -- in a city, one of the very few 

14           cities that I would feel comfortable 

15           migrating to in 2022 as a Black American 

16           woman. Do you understand that? 

17                  So this is where my fight comes from. 

18           From living in Red Hook, from holding that 

19           small space -- I don't care if we only have 

20           500 square feet of space, but we want to 

21           maintain that area because of all of the 

22           things that are going on, from global 

23           pandemics to all kinds of antiquated rules 

24           around zoning.  Like we have to have a safe 


 1           place for our people, too.  

 2                  So I will stop right there.  Thank 

 3           you.            

 4                  MS. DIANE:  I will get back on what 

 5           Karen said.  It makes me really angry, but it 

 6           also makes me angry that there are 200,000 

 7           people who are experiencing homelessness 

 8           right now.  The fact that 90,000 single 

 9           people are experiencing homelessness right 

10           now, right, and we're not even talking about 

11           that.  

12                  Yes, NYCHA needs to be funded.  They 

13           need to fund NYCHA.  But we also need to fund 

14           those people who are currently living in 

15           shelters right now or are too afraid to go to 

16           shelters because the shelter system is 

17           horrible.  We haven't even talked about that. 

18                  And the fact that why can't people 

19           move into their homes in a timely manner?  

20           Like for myself, I've been waiting for 

21           months -- thank you to Assemblywoman 

22           Rosenthal for helping.  But I'm still waiting 

23           to get into an apartment that I was accepted 

24           into since last November, which makes no 


 1           sense.  

 2                  So this is an issue -- you know, we 

 3           need to fund NYCHA, we need to fund programs 

 4           to help those who are homeless -- houseless, 

 5           I'd rather called them houseless -- and not 

 6           look at it as a handout but a hand up. That's 

 7           what we need.            

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you. 

 9                  Senator Krueger? 

10                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  No, I think we're 

11           done in the Senate, thank you.            

12                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So I want to 

13           thank this panel for being here and sharing 

14           your experiences with us and staying with us. 

15           We still have a number of people.  Feel free 

16           to continue to send comments and further 

17           remarks on issues that may have come up 

18           during some of this discussion that you would 

19           like us to consider. 

20                  Now we're going to move on to Panel C:  

21           Center for New York City Neighborhoods, 

22           Christie Peale, CEO/executive director; the 

23           Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, Jay 

24           Flemma; CAMBA Legal Services, Jeremy 


 1           Bunyaner, staff attorney; Right to Counsel 

 2           Coalition, Malika Conner, director of 

 3           organizing. 

 4                  They can go in that order, starting 

 5           with Center for New York City Neighborhoods.            

 6                  MS. PEALE:  Good evening.  My name is 

 7           Christie Peale, and I would like to thank 

 8           Chair Krueger, Chair Weinstein, and the 

 9           members and committee staff for holding 

10           today's hearing on the fiscal year '23 

11           Executive Budget proposals regarding housing. 

12                  And I just want to start by 

13           acknowledging that the Governor's proposed 

14           budget really does commit a historic -- 

15                  (Noises in background.)

16                  MS. PEALE:  I'm sorry for the honking.  

17                  -- amount of state funding to support 

18           home ownership opportunities for low- and 

19           moderate-income families statewide.  

20                  The center's mission is to promote and 

21           protect affordable home ownership in New York 

22           so that all families are able to live in 

23           strong and thriving communities.  We meet the 

24           diverse needs of homeowners across the state 


 1           by offering free, high-quality housing 

 2           services and direct financial assistance to 

 3           families in need. 

 4                  As I mentioned, this budget proposal 

 5           is notable in its increased and dedicated 

 6           support for home ownership.  I'm really 

 7           excited that there are initiatives in here 

 8           that are going to help families stay in their 

 9           homes, and also there are opportunities to 

10           create new home ownership units across the 

11           state.  We need both, and in particular to 

12           address the racial home ownership and the 

13           racial wealth gap that exists in New York and 

14           across the country between Black and Latinx 

15           New Yorkers and the state's white residents.  

16                  Obviously this results from decades 

17           of, you know, racist and discriminatory 

18           practices in home lending, zoning, urban 

19           renewal, as mentioned by Ms. Blondel, home 

20           selling -- and we really need to both help 

21           folks keep their homes and also make sure 

22           they're actively creating more units.  We're 

23           not just helping people compete for those 

24           units, but we need a much greater supply of 


 1           home ownership opportunities that are 

 2           specifically targeted at low- and 

 3           moderate-income families.  

 4                  So I'm real excited to explore how the 

 5           400 million in capital can do that.  There 

 6           is -- as we've heard tonight, the demand for 

 7           affordable homes exists in every city and 

 8           town nnd municipality across the state.  So 

 9           we need both tailored solutions that meet the 

10           individual needs of each community and 

11           scalable solutions that allow us to really 

12           achieve solutions at scale. 

13                  So in addition to supporting the 

14           capital request in the budget, we think -- 

15           oh, my gosh, I'm almost out of time -- AHC 

16           money should be in there.  I really also need 

17           to talk about the Homeowner Protection 

18           Program. We are hoping that the Senate and 

19           the Assembly will accept the Governor's 

20           20 million allocation as well as increase it 

21           to 35 million for this year.  

22                  With the foreclosure moratorium 

23           expiring, we expect to see a huge number of 

24           families at risk of foreclosure this year and 


 1           next.  So we're also planning a $40 million 

 2           ask for next year.  So there's just a huge 

 3           demand for that.  

 4                  And then the other issue I wanted to 

 5           mention was the state's 50 million CLT 

 6           allocation, which we're a strong supporter 

 7           of, and the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase 

 8           Act, Senate 3157.  We're hoping that some of 

 9           the funding in the 400 million capital pot 

10           would be available for this pilot.            

11                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you. 

12                  Legal Aid Society?            

13                  MR. FLEMMA:  Good evening, everyone.  

14           I'm Jay Flemma.  I'm the senior foreclosure 

15           defense attorney for Legal Aid Society in 

16           Mid-New York.  I cover 13 of our 15 counties. 

17                  This is actually my third time getting 

18           to give testimony to all you good folks.  In 

19           2017, I rang the original alarm for the need 

20           for the money for funding foreclosure 

21           attorneys, and you responded admirably.  

22           Thank you. 

23                  Last year, I not only asked for the 

24           contribution again, but I also brought you up 


 1           to speed on what I was seeing on the ground 

 2           and in particular how the pandemic both 

 3           accelerated and aggravated the factors for a 

 4           crisis and a potential collapse of the real 

 5           estate system.  Senator Kavanagh was kind 

 6           enough to call attention to my testimony and 

 7           to ask others to look more deeply into it.  

 8                  I'm now reporting back to you on what 

 9           I have seen over the course of the last year.  

10           I will stand on my written testimony with 

11           regards to the financial ask.  But I would 

12           like you all to know that despite the 

13           moratorium and the pause in cases handled in 

14           court, my caseload did not change.  I had as 

15           many cases come in as I closed.  

16                  On top of that, from September of last 

17           year until today, my caseload has doubled, 

18           and we are only two weeks into the end of 

19           moratorium. 

20                  The causes I see for this are the 

21           confusion with regards to homeowners on what 

22           rules apply to them and what waterfalls apply 

23           for them when they're going to be able to try 

24           to modify their loans coming out of COVID.  


 1           Tax forclosures also -- while they stopped 

 2           them, there were still many questions, there 

 3           were a lot of issues to ascertain.  

 4                  But there are three other forces that 

 5           are gravely pressuring the system.  One is 

 6           scammers.  Every day I do battle with We Buy 

 7           Ugly Houses, and in particular people who 

 8           abuse it by using predatory tactics on 

 9           vulnerable people like the sick, the elderly, 

10           and those in financial crisis.  

11                  I have to deal with rogue foreclosure 

12           mills, first deliberately overcharging costs 

13           that they know they can't defend, while at 

14           the same time bringing a cottage industry of 

15           cases that bring back formerly dead cases 

16           that were dismissed by statutes of 

17           limitations.

18                  You'll be receiving some bills on that 

19           that would be very important to pass, and in 

20           particular, I want to thank the Empire 

21           Justice Center and Attorney Jay Inwald.  They 

22           are polestars by which I set my sails.  I 

23           encourage you also to be very careful in 

24           analyzing what they have to say, because it's 


 1           important. 

 2                  Finally, Senator (sic) Lawler had 

 3           brought up the important point that private 

 4           ownership of residential property is the 

 5           lifeblood of the American dream.  Be aware 

 6           that the globalist forces are trying to take 

 7           that away from us.  Pay very careful 

 8           attention to what's coming out of Davos and 

 9           the World Economic Forum.  They want to see a 

10           massive transfer of residential personal 

11           property in America to corporations and the 

12           government.

13                  Thank you for your time. 

14                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

15                  Now for CAMBA.  

16                  MR. BUNYANER:  Thank you, Chairs. 

17                  My name is Jeremy Bunyaner.  I'm a 

18           staff attorney at CAMBA Legal Services.  At 

19           CAMBA we serve tenants in Brooklyn and 

20           Staten Island who are behind on their rent or 

21           otherwise facing eviction.  

22                  As a member of the Right to Counsel 

23           Coalition, we are here to testify to the fact 

24           that Right to Counsel -- RTC -- works.  Prior 


 1           to the adoption of the RTC program by 

 2           New York City in 2017, our housing unit met 

 3           with many more tenants then we had funding to 

 4           serve.  And even after triaging and using our 

 5           limited financial resources efficiently, we 

 6           would regularly have to turn people away.  

 7                  With Right to Counsel, our housing 

 8           unit has expanded dramatically.  Our capacity 

 9           to serve our communities is much closer to 

10           being commensurate with need. 

11                  Based on our experience with New York 

12           City's RTC program, it is our view that the 

13           proposed $35 million in increased funding for 

14           legal services providers throughout upstate 

15           New York does not go far enough to address 

16           the housing and eviction crisis facing 

17           tenants across New York State.  Further, we 

18           strongly recommend that the statewide Right 

19           to Council bill, sponsored by Rachel May and 

20           Latoya Joyner, be passed so that these 

21           essential tenant rights are enshrined in law 

22           rather than implemented piecemeal through the 

23           graces of the Governor.  

24                  Our communities deserve more than just 


 1           funding, and that funding needs to be 

 2           adequate.  The Legislature has passed many 

 3           laws over the years to help tenants, but 

 4           without a true right to counsel, tenants 

 5           often are not able to use those laws as they 

 6           were intended.  Every tenant facing eviction 

 7           across New York State needs a lawyer -- and, 

 8           in many cases, the support of a community 

 9           organizer to fight their case.  The current 

10           proposal will not come close to doing that.  

11                  Something that is little understood is 

12           that in nonpayment proceedings in New York, 

13           the primary remedy a landlord seeks is not 

14           evicting the tenant but rather being made 

15           financially whole.  Eviction defense 

16           attorneys help ensure this happens when 

17           possible.  That means that landlords benefit 

18           from Right to Counsel programs.  An RTC 

19           program ensures that the legal process moves 

20           more smoothly to address the actual issues 

21           and provide remedies that are fair to all. 

22                  This is part of why the seven cities 

23           that now have a right to counsel have seen up 

24           to a 77 percent reduction in evictions. 


 1           Everyone has benefited.  Even tenants with 

 2           the most hopeless cases benefit from the 

 3           assistance of counsel.  Last summer I met 

 4           with Ms. Walker.  That's not her real name.  

 5           She was facing a no-grounds holdover action 

 6           seeking to evict her from an illegal unit.  

 7           Her legal rights are limited.  Prior to 

 8           New York City's RTC program, we would have 

 9           never taken her case.  But I'm really glad we 

10           did.  

11                  What having the program meant to 

12           Ms. Walker was having someone able to explain 

13           the legal system to her, someone to help her 

14           understand which issues mattered in terms of 

15           her housing stability and which issues did 

16           not, and, most importantly, having someone 

17           knowledgeable who could negotiate with her 

18           landlord's attorney so that we could come to 

19           a settlement. 

20                  Having the program spared judicial 

21           resources.  It gave Ms. Walker some control 

22           over her fate despite her terrible situation.  

23           This is the least that people deserve. 

24           Currently New York is failing to meet that 


 1           standard.  Thirty-five million dollars is not 

 2           enough to meet the needs of New Yorkers 

 3           facing eviction.  New York needs a Right to 

 4           Counsel statewide law and funding of at least 

 5           $500 million.  

 6                  Thank you for the opportunity to 

 7           testify. 

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you. 

 9                  And following now, the Right to 

10           Counsel Coalition, Malika Conner, director of 

11           organizing. 

12                  MS. CONNER:  Yes, thank you, and good 

13           evening.  And thank you to the chairs for the 

14           opportunity to testify today. 

15                  My name is Malika Conner.  I'm the 

16           director of organizing for the Right to 

17           Counsel Coalition, which won the campaign to 

18           establish a right to counsel for tenants 

19           facing eviction in New York City.  And we're 

20           currently working in coalition to build a 

21           statewide movement for the right to counsel 

22           and transform the courts from the eviction 

23           machine that they have come to be to a place 

24           that holds landlords accountable, upholds 


 1           tenants' rights, and enables tenants to 

 2           remain in their homes.  

 3                  We and members of the Our Housing 

 4           Courts Must Change campaign collectively 

 5           represent tens of thousands of tenants across 

 6           New York State.  And we're honored to be 

 7           working on permanent and transformative 

 8           solutions to New York's eviction crisis.  Our 

 9           statewide Right to Counsel legislation, as my 

10           colleague Jeremy mentioned, that was 

11           introduced by Senator Rachel May and 

12           Assemblymember Latoya Joyner last year, would 

13           really ensure that every tenant in New York 

14           State has the right to a lawyer when facing 

15           eviction.  

16                  It would cover every tenant across the 

17           state regardless of income.  It would cover 

18           any legal proceeding that could result in a 

19           tenant losing their home.  It requires that 

20           tenants be represented throughout their 

21           entire case, not just when they show up in 

22           court, so they would get quality legal 

23           counsel, legal advice, and assistance.  

24                  And then it also requires the state to 


 1           work with nonprofit legal services 

 2           organizations to provide the right to counsel 

 3           and with community-based groups to provide 

 4           tenants' rights education and tenant 

 5           organizing.  

 6                  While we are encouraged by Governor 

 7           Hochul's recognition of the success of 

 8           New York City's right to counsel law in the 

 9           2022 State of the State, and her proposed 

10           Eviction Prevention Legal Assistance Program 

11           to provide funding for free legal assistance 

12           to upstate renters facing eviction with 

13           incomes at or below 200 percent of the 

14           federal poverty line, it does not go far 

15           enough to protect tenants. 

16                  As Jeremy mentioned, it does not 

17           establish the right to counsel that tenants 

18           across the state need.  Nor does it help 

19           downstate tenants in New York City and the 

20           surrounding areas of Long Island and 

21           Westchester that need it.  

22                  And the $35 million included in the 

23           Governor's Executive Budget simply doesn't 

24           meet the needs of tenants throughout upstate 


 1           New York as well, or the rest of the state 

 2           that is still reeling from the economic and 

 3           public health crises caused by the pandemic, 

 4           let alone does it address the housing and 

 5           eviction crisis that has devastated New York 

 6           communities for decades. 

 7                  So to be clear, right, every tenant 

 8           facing eviction across New York State needs a 

 9           lawyer and the support of a community 

10           organizer to fight their case.  And the 

11           current proposal unfortunately does not come 

12           close to doing that.  

13                  So what we really need is a true right 

14           to counsel for tenants facing eviction.  And 

15           what that means is the right to a lawyer and 

16           the amount of money to realistically pay for 

17           it.  Right?  So we're proposing that it would 

18           cost at least $500 million -- that's a 

19           conservative estimate.  We're working on more 

20           official cost study.  And, you know, it would 

21           also not necessarily need to be put toward 

22           the program right away, it could potentially 

23           be phased in over a series of years. 

24                  I think it's also important to note, 


 1           too, that between 70,000 and 85,000 tenants 

 2           outside of New York City are expected to face 

 3           eviction each year.  And we estimate that 

 4           between 45,000 and 50,000 will be served 

 5           annually through an eviction right to 

 6           counsel.  So there is a tremendous 

 7           opportunity to support and help tenants and 

 8           fight evictions through a true right to 

 9           counsel that is funded appropriately. 

10                  I know I'm out of time, so thank you 

11           for the opportunity to speak, and -- 

12                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

13                  We're going to go to questions.  

14           Before we go to the Senate, I know that 

15           the -- those in the legal service community 

16           know that beyond a specific right to counsel 

17           funding, that we do -- we do fund over -- 

18           through the court system, over $100 million 

19           from the Legislature to the court system for 

20           legal services.  Many of those organizations 

21           serve -- do help with eviction services, as 

22           well as through the IOLA program.  There's 

23           many legal service providers throughout the 

24           state that provide eviction services.  


 1                  So the number may even be -- what's 

 2           needed may even be lower than, you know, that 

 3           sort of big number that may scare some 

 4           people.  So, you know, I appreciate your work 

 5           to try and get a true number that will also 

 6           take into account services that are already 

 7           being provided so we can see what we would 

 8           need to really expand and fully cover 

 9           everybody. 

10                  Because we all agree, who have been 

11           fighting for civil legal service funding, 

12           that a lawyer makes a difference when you're 

13           in court.  You get a much better result, and 

14           you get to stay in your house and your home. 

15                  So now we will go to Senator Krueger 

16           for the Senate.            

17                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you very 

18           much, Helene.  

19                  And thank you for raising that point.  

20           I was also going to raise that point and also 

21           highlight one of the things we learned from 

22           New York City:  Right to Counsel is -- 

23           sometimes you actually don't have enough 

24           counsel.  And so you have to go out and make 


 1           sure that you actually do have counsel who 

 2           actually know about housing law. Because 

 3           being a terrific lawyer does not mean you are 

 4           terrific lawyer in every field of law, and 

 5           housing law is particularly quirky, if that's 

 6           the word to use, in New York. 

 7                  But with that, I want to hand it to 

 8           Senator Jackson, who did have his hand up.            

 9                  SENATOR JACKSON:  Thank you, 

10           Madam Chair.  

11                  And good afternoon, Panel C members. 

12           Thank you for staying in.  Obviously, people 

13           that are representing tenants and homeowners 

14           in court will appreciate that. 

15                  I have a question put forward by one 

16           of our colleagues, Cordelle Cleare, who was 

17           just recently elected as a Senator to replace 

18           Brian Benjamin, the Lieutenant Governor.  And 

19           she's not on the Housing Committee, so she 

20           can't ask the question.  But she wanted to 

21           know, have you experienced during the 

22           pandemic where tenants who were living with, 

23           let's say, their parents and their parents 

24           died, as a result of COVID or whatever, and 


 1           landlords are fighting them for succession 

 2           rights and they may not have all of the 

 3           appropriate documentation, things like that?  

 4                  So have you experienced an increase in 

 5           trying to evict people that may be the sons 

 6           or relatives of someone that passed away 

 7           within the past two years?  Somebody help me 

 8           out and answer.            

 9                  MR. BUNYANER:  Well, I have not 

10           personally received any cases dealing with 

11           that exact situation.  That is something that 

12           I have heard about, and it is something that 

13           I think we are going to see more and more 

14           because of the moratorium and the ways 

15           specifically to work cases through the legal 

16           system quicker.  

17                  Some cases that might plainly be a 

18           succession matter, really, where instead it's 

19           framed as nuisance holdovers or such other 

20           cases -- and I think in the months to come we 

21           are going to see a lot more of just more 

22           cases being brought of, you know, that are a 

23           little more truthful than what's actually the 

24           facts at hand.            


 1                  SENATOR JACKSON:  Anybody else can 

 2           respond to that?  If you don't mind.  If you 

 3           can.  

 4                  MR. FLEMMA:  In the foreclosure 

 5           setting, Senator, I do see a lot of pushback 

 6           from servicers where there is a question of 

 7           Surrogate's Court involvement or 

 8           administrators for executors.  It gets very 

 9           complicated, and there is lot more hoops to 

10           jump through.  

11                  And I am just as concerned also with 

12           the trend that I am seeing of foreclosure 

13           mills resurrecting long-dead, dismissed, 

14           statute of limitations cases frivolously.  It 

15           is a cottage industry, and it is a serious 

16           pandemic right now.  They are trying to 

17           confuse judges, and they are trying to steal 

18           back houses they lost long ago and oppose 

19           these homeowners three, four, five years 

20           along, suddenly.  They thought they were 

21           done, they thought it was over, they thought 

22           they had a house free and clear, and now they 

23           have got to fend off this litigation.            

24                  SENATOR JACKSON:  Okay.  But for 


 1           renters in New York City, if you had two 

 2           years you lived with your parents and you 

 3           have the documentation, your driver's license 

 4           and everything like that, and your name, and 

 5           you can prove that you lived here -- 

 6           neighbors know that you lived there, so forth 

 7           and so on, that would seem like a 

 8           cut-and-dried case.  Why would they even try 

 9           to do that?  But you're right, they will try 

10           everything they can to knock you out of the 

11           box. 

12                  So I want to thank you.  My time is 

13           up, and this is long hearing.  I appreciate 

14           you being here, let me say that.  Thank you.  

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.            

16                  We will go to Assemblyman Epstein.            

17                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thank you, 

18           Chair.  And I want to thank the panelists.

19                  As a former civil legal services 

20           lawyer who practiced housing law for way 

21           longer than I want to say publically, I 

22           really appreciate you all being here.  And I 

23           just wanted to kind of just for a moment just 

24           talk about the right to counsel for a second. 


 1                  And what do you think that the 

 2           investment would do to the housing stock and 

 3           the eviction numbers?  How would the right to 

 4           counsel change the existing structure that we 

 5           have?  And that's really to any panelist.  

 6           But you know, we only have three minutes, so 

 7           we don't get a lot of responses.            

 8                  MS. CONNER:  Sure.  I think first and 

 9           foremost, you know, right to counsel -- at 

10           least in New York City and other places 

11           across the country -- has been proven to be 

12           one of the most effective ways to stop 

13           displacement.  Right?  

14                  So in New York City in particular, 

15           84 percent of tenants who have a Right to 

16           Counsel lawyer win their case and are able to 

17           stay in their homes.  So I think that in and 

18           of itself, preventing displacement, 

19           preventing unreasonable or illegal rent 

20           hikes, things of that nature, would 

21           definitely contribute to, you know, helping 

22           to keep folks in their homes and preserve the 

23           existing stock.            

24                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  So, I mean, I 


 1           just want to build on that.  It is not just 

 2           that, right, because the cost of shelters 

 3           are -- you know, we heard from the last 

 4           panel -- $4,000 a month.  And you know, 

 5           $100,000 for her to live in a shelter and the 

 6           right to counsel, like you are saying -- if 

 7           we were successful eight out of 10 cases, we 

 8           are just saving the government money on -- 

 9           well, do we have good data that shows that 

10           investment in this will save us money in the 

11           long term?            

12                  MS. CONNER:  Yes.  So I have to say 

13           two things.  One, we are working on a cost 

14           study to -- you know, as I mentioned, we have 

15           a preliminary number that I mentioned today.  

16           We will have a cost study that we can share 

17           publicly with folks in coming weeks.  And, 

18           you know, we do know from the New York City 

19           study and from studies of Right to Counsel 

20           across the country that Right to Counsel does 

21           save significant public dollars in terms of 

22           emergency shelter costs, transitional 

23           housing, and rehousing.            

24                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Malika, I know I 


 1           only have 30 seconds left, so I want to -- if 

 2           you can just talk to the homeowner side.  I 

 3           know we need more money for ERAP as well, 

 4           that's really clear.  Just on the 

 5           homeowner -- so we heard earlier from the 

 6           commissioner, she talked about not all the 

 7           money being spent for the homeowner 

 8           assistance funds we've put together.  

 9                  What else do we need to be doing for 

10           homeowners to ensure that there are enough 

11           resources to keep people in their homes as 

12           well as providing legal counsel to them?  

13                  Christie or Jay, maybe.

14                  MS. PEALE:  Yes.  I was a little 

15           rushed, so I didn't mention that half of the 

16           groups in the Homeowner Protection Program 

17           across the state are housing counselors and 

18           they provide a lot of really essential, you 

19           know, budget advice, help with the Homeowner 

20           Assistance Fund application, modification 

21           help, and they work very closely with the 

22           legal services groups like CAMBA and Legal 

23           Aid Society of Mid-Hudson.  

24                  So I think that combination of housing 


 1           counseling and legal services is really -- it 

 2           is pretty unique across the country.  

 3           Actually, New York State's a model.  And it 

 4           has been really effective at not just helping 

 5           with issues like scams but, as Jay mentioned, 

 6           working on a lot of these really complex and 

 7           persistent issues.  

 8                  Especially, you know, we are really, 

 9           as I mentioned, incredibly concerned about 

10           the number of homeowners who are going to 

11           start to get 90-day notices starting on 

12           April 15th.  Right on Tax Day, the first 

13           90-day notices will start to come out 

14           indicating that the foreclosure moratorium is 

15           over.  So, you know, we are really worried 

16           about the stress and the trauma that's going 

17           to create for a huge number of families 

18           across the state.  And the HOPP program is 

19           the first line of defense for homeowners 

20           across the income spectrum, right?

21                  So a lot of our resources in New York 

22           City and across the state are 

23           income-restricted.  HOPP will serve anybody 

24           who comes in the door.  And we know that 


 1           COVID has rendered a lot of, you know, 

 2           previously more moderate- or middle-income 

 3           families in a much more precarious financial 

 4           state.  

 5                  So thanks for the question, 

 6           Assemblymember.  We really appreciate your 

 7           support.  We are very, very grateful for 

 8           everything that the Assembly and the Senate 

 9           have done in the past, and it is just 

10           incredible to be in the Executive Budget for 

11           the first time ever.  

12                  (Laughter.)

13                  MS. PEALE:  Thank you for all of the 

14           excitement.

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

16                  MS. PEALE:  But I really am anxious to 

17           find ways to increase that support, because 

18           we think next year is going to be a bear of a 

19           year.

20                  MR. FLEMMA:  If I may quickly add, 

21           Assemblywoman Weinstein, we are grateful for 

22           the money.  The other things that we need 

23           are please keep your eyes open for the 

24           consumer protection bills that are coming 


 1           down the line, the bills that are coming down 

 2           regarding the statute of limitations, and 

 3           especially keep your eyes peeled on what the 

 4           World Economic Forum and Davos have planned 

 5           for American residential private home 

 6           ownership.  It is chilling.            

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, and 

 8           I know post-budget we'll be -- we will 

 9           continue to be in touch with many of the 

10           people in this panel to make sure that we 

11           properly fund legal services and protect 

12           homeowners and tenants alike. 

13                  I want to say thank you to this panel. 

14           We are going to move on to Panel D.            

15                  Senator Krueger, did you want to -- 

16                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  I was thanking 

17           everyone.  Thank you.            

18                  MS. PEALE:  Thank you.            

19                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So we are going 

20           to move on to Panel D:  Rural Housing 

21           Coalition of New York, Michael Borges, 

22           executive director; New York State Rural 

23           Advocates, Blair Sebastian, director; East 

24           Harlem/El Barrio Community Land Trust, Athena 


 1           Bernkopf, project director; New Economy 

 2           Project/New York City Community Land 

 3           Initiative, Elise Goldin, campaign organizer; 

 4           Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, Mark 

 5           Streb, executive director; and Community 

 6           Housing Improvement Program, Joseph Condon, 

 7           general counsel.

 8                  Hopefully all of those people are 

 9           here, and if we could just start going in the 

10           order that I introduced you.  

11                  Rural Housing Coalition of New York.            

12                  MR. BORGES:  Thank you, Chairwoman 

13           Weinstein, and thank you for allowing me to 

14           speak to you tonight.  I appreciate all of 

15           the committee members for sticking around 

16           this late. 

17                  Again, I am Mike Borges, executive 

18           director of the Rural Housing Coalition of 

19           New York.  The coalition represents 

20           affordable housing and community development 

21           organizations that serve rural communities 

22           throughout the state. 

23                  The Rural Housing Coalition was 

24           pleased that the Executive Budget included 


 1           funding for a new five-year capital housing 

 2           plan.  The plan lacks certain details on how 

 3           these funds could be utilized in rural 

 4           communities, and we are disappointed that the 

 5           current housing programs, particularly those 

 6           that serve rural communities, were either 

 7           flat-funded or omitted from the 

 8           Executive Budget. 

 9                  Many of the housing programs heavily 

10           utilized by the rural preservation companies, 

11           the local nonprofit entities that are the 

12           boots on the ground in rural communities 

13           which enable the state to deliver and 

14           implement its housing initiatives, are 

15           flat-funded again in the Executive Budget, 

16           programs like New York Main Street, Housing 

17           Trust Fund, HOPE/RESTORE, et cetera, 

18           et cetera.  Without the rural preservation 

19           companies, there would be no one helping 

20           seniors with fixing leaking roofs, or 

21           installing a ramp for disabled veterans, or 

22           rehabbing and constructing new affordable 

23           housing in rural communities. 

24                  In addition, funding for the Rural 


 1           Housing and Neighborhood Coalitions were left 

 2           out of the Executive Budget.  I was 

 3           encouraged by Senator Kavanagh's earlier 

 4           questions to the commissioner and her 

 5           response that this funding would be under 

 6           review, and we are hopeful that the 

 7           Legislature will increase funding for the 

 8           preservation programs, since we are only 

 9           asking for a modest $840,000 increase in the 

10           Rural Preservation Program in a year with the 

11           state anticipating at least a $6 billion 

12           surplus. 

13                  Funding for preservation programs has 

14           not increased in over a decade.  Meanwhile, 

15           our labor and material costs have increased 

16           by 24 percent since 2011.  We are also asking 

17           for a modest increase in the RESTORE/Access 

18           to Home program, which provides emergency 

19           home repairs to low-income seniors and 

20           accessibility modifications to the homes of 

21           disabled individuals.  This program is 

22           currently funded at $1 million, and we are 

23           seeking again a very small $2 million 

24           increase to offset rising costs and materials 


 1           and labor, which I have just outlined. 

 2                  To put this in perspective, according 

 3           to the latest U.S. Census, there are 

 4           approximately 1.2 million New Yorkers with an 

 5           ambulatory disability, which is meaning they 

 6           have a problem walking.  In addition, current 

 7           law limits administrative set-aside to 

 8           7.5 percent of the grant.  We are seeking a 

 9           modest increase to 10 percent to administer 

10           this very labor-intensive and time-consuming 

11           service. 

12                  The coalition also requests that small 

13           rental development initiatives, SRDIs, 

14           originally established and funded in 2017 

15           with excess federal funds, be restarted again 

16           with state support to fill the need for 

17           affordable rental housing in rural 

18           communities.  We are seeking $20 million for 

19           this program in order to encourage 

20           private-sector investment in the development 

21           of rural affordable rental housing that is 

22           sorely needed by the residents as well by 

23           economic development agencies seeking to 

24           attract new employers and their workers to 


 1           these communities. 

 2                  Thank you very much for your time.            

 3                  CHAIR WEINSTEIN:  Next, New York State 

 4           Rural Advocates.            

 5                  MR. SEBASTIAN:  Good evening, 

 6           everyone, and thank you for the opportunity 

 7           to present a brief overview of our housing 

 8           budget here today.  

 9                  New York State Rural Advocates has 

10           submitted detailed written testimony, so I 

11           would like to take the occasion just to touch 

12           on a couple of issues.  

13                  Recent U.S. Census data makes it clear 

14           that rural New York had a pretty tough decade 

15           between 2010 and 2020.  The region lost 

16           population, we lost employers, and we lost 

17           housing stock.  Our analysis of census data 

18           finds that 20 of our state's most rural 

19           communities -- counties -- lost a net total 

20           of 15,600 housing units during the period.  

21                  We think this all suggests a couple of 

22           fairly straightforward housing policy 

23           responses.  First, we need to protect and 

24           preserve rural New York's most viable 


 1           remaining housing stock.  Remembering that 

 2           three-quarters of the housing units in rural 

 3           New York are in the hands of owner-occupants, 

 4           our preservation strategies must respond to 

 5           the homeowner sector.  

 6                  Our full testimony discusses two 

 7           underfunded programs that address exactly 

 8           this problem.  The Affordable Housing 

 9           Corporation, AHC, is one of New York's big 

10           three housing programs, along with the 

11           Housing Trust Fund and the Homeless Housing 

12           Assistance Program.  

13                  Rural preservation companies and other 

14           rural not-for-profits use AHC to undertake 

15           owner-occupied programs that provide both 

16           financial and technical assistance to remedy 

17           structural problems, to correct health and 

18           safety issues, and to enhance energy 

19           efficiency, thereby extending the useful life 

20           of these homes. 

21                  The emergency repair program for 

22           seniors known as HOPE/RESTORE also preserves 

23           the existing housing stock while protecting 

24           the health and well-being of low-income 


 1           seniors.  A second policy response would have 

 2           us undertake a new construction program to 

 3           replace deteriorated housing units and to 

 4           begin expanding the inventory of modest 

 5           single homes available in rural markets. 

 6                  Again, AHC program is the tool.  Rural 

 7           preservation companies, Habitat for Humanity 

 8           chapters, and a host of other not-for-profits 

 9           can use AHC to write down the costs of newly 

10           constructed single-family homes and to fund 

11           the acquisition and rehabilitation of 

12           existing homes to make them affordable to 

13           first-time homebuyers.  

14                  With the changes to AHC recently 

15           signed into law by the Governor, we expect 

16           the new construction side of the AHC program 

17           will have great potential for growth, but 

18           that won't happen without additional 

19           resources. 

20                  Governor Hochul has proposed a flat 

21           fund at near 1985 levels, AHC at near 

22           1985 levels, and she has not included the 

23           program or anything similar in the proposed 

24           five-year capital plan.  We urge you to 


 1           provide the AHC program with $50 million in 

 2           the 2023 budget.  

 3                  HOPE/RESTORE is also flat-funded at 

 4           1.4 million, and in order so that emergency 

 5           senior repairs service can be made available 

 6           statewide, we suggest that HOPE/RESTORE be 

 7           funded at $3 million. 

 8                  Affordable rural housing is 

 9           complicated stuff.  We urge you to read 

10           balance of our testimony, and thank you for 

11           the time tonight.            

12                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We can go on 

13           next to East Harlem, Athena Bernkopf.

14                  MS. BERNKOPF:  Yes.  Good evening, 

15           Senators and Assemblymembers and committee 

16           chairs.  Thank you for opportunity to speak 

17           today.  

18                  I am Athena Bernkopf.  I'm the project 

19           director of the East Harlem/El Barrio 

20           Community Land Trust.  And I also represent 

21           East Harlem/El Barrio CLT on the coordinating 

22           committee of the New York City Community Land 

23           Initiative, which my colleague Elise will be 

24           speaking on more later today, or this 


 1           evening. 

 2                  I am here to urge you all to 

 3           prioritize Community Land Trust and other 

 4           shared-equity models in the state's capital 

 5           budget.  The East Harlem/El Barrio CLT works 

 6           to develop and preserve community-controlled, 

 7           truly and permanently affordable housing and 

 8           commercial green and cultural spaces in 

 9           Harlem and El Barrio that provide -- that 

10           prioritize households with extremely low to 

11           low incomes.  

12                  And as a strategy to ensure permanent 

13           affordability, East Harlem/El Barrio CLT will 

14           own land and lease it to buildings on that 

15           land as well as develop a resident-controlled 

16           mutual housing association.  

17                  I went into this a little bit in the 

18           testimony, the written testimony that I 

19           provided, but I do want to reiterate that in 

20           November of 2020, East Harlem/El Barrio CLT 

21           closed on our first parcels of land.  And 

22           with that came four formerly city-owned 

23           residential properties that -- many of which 

24           were in terrible condition, which we are 


 1           currently rehabilitating and, after rehab 

 2           will be done, will create 38 residential 

 3           units, all of which will be set at rents that 

 4           are below market rate and protected for the 

 5           long term through a 99-year ground lease 

 6           between the mutual housing association and 

 7           the community land trust. 

 8                  We also have three community and  

 9           commercial facilities that will be rented 

10           also at below market rate, and we are also 

11           supporting the all Black and brown 

12           working-class community members that are 

13           residents of the buildings now with training 

14           to prepare them to step into the boards of 

15           the mutual housing association and the 

16           community land trust. 

17                  So I say all that to say that 

18           community land trusts and mutual housing 

19           associations have incredible potential for 

20           creating and sustaining the affordable 

21           housing that we all know is desperately 

22           needed, as everyone has been saying tonight. 

23           And so it is with this impact in mind that we 

24           urge you all to pass, first, Tenant 


 1           Opportunity to Purchase legislation, knowing 

 2           that it would give residents across the state 

 3           an opportunity for resident control of their 

 4           housing.

 5                  We also find it really hopeful that 

 6           our state officials are looking seriously at 

 7           resident-controlled housing structures with a 

 8           five-year capital plan and a proposed pilot 

 9           program.  But we must be clear that the 

10           $50 million that is set aside or proposed are 

11           nowhere near enough.  The expenses related to 

12           East Harlem/El Barrios projects just this 

13           past year alone account for at least a third 

14           of that amount, with just a single project 

15           which only creates 38 units -- which are 

16           essential to housing and community, but 

17           doesn't address the crisis that everybody has 

18           been talking about. 

19                  So we are also -- we're echoing calls 

20           that the amounts that have been set aside for 

21           acquisition and development costs be 

22           increased significantly to actually cover the 

23           real costs of developing and acquiring 

24           housing that can be resident-controlled.  


 1                  And we also want to reiterate that it 

 2           can't just focus on homeownership.  The 

 3           majority of New York City residents are 

 4           renters, and so are significant proportions 

 5           of New Yorkers across the state.  And so we 

 6           need to uplift rental properties and rental 

 7           structures that are community-controlled and 

 8           to support specifically the low-income 

 9           community members that are most vulnerable to 

10           the housing crisis across the state and 

11           beyond. 

12                  So that's my testimony for tonight. 

13           Thank you all, and I am looking forward to 

14           working with you all over the coming year.            

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you. 

16                  Next we go to New Economy Project.            

17                  MS. GOLDIN:  Hi.  Good evening.  

18           Thanks for the opportunity to testify.  My 

19           testimony is going to be very parallel to 

20           Athena Bernkopf's testimony, so I'm excited 

21           to stress all of the points that they just 

22           made. 

23                  So yes, my name is Elise Goldin.  I'm 

24           the Community Land Trust campaign organizer 


 1           at New Economy Project.  And just to give you 

 2           some background, New Economy Project works to 

 3           build an economy that works for all, rooted 

 4           in racial and social justice, cooperation, 

 5           neighborhood equity and ecological 

 6           sustainability.  

 7                  And the New Economy Project is one of 

 8           the cofounders of the New York City Community 

 9           Land Initiative, which is a coalition 

10           advocating for community land trusts, or 

11           CLTs, to preserve and create deeply 

12           affordable housing, combat displacement, and 

13           stabilize neighborhoods. 

14                  And as Athena said, again, what CLTs 

15           are, for those of you who are not as 

16           familiar, CLTs are nonprofits that own and 

17           steward land in the community's interest, and 

18           they often -- it separates the land and 

19           what's on top of the land.  And the CLTs are 

20           able to lease that land for affordable 

21           housing development or other community needs 

22           through 99-year ground leases.  And that 

23           could include creating HDFC co-ops, it could 

24           include homeownership opportunities or 


 1           whatever the community puts forth.  

 2                  So in terms of our budget requests, 

 3           New Economy Project and NYCCLI were really 

 4           excited about the $50 million pilot program 

 5           that is supporting community-controlled, 

 6           permanently affordable housing.  And we want 

 7           to stress that this pilot program should be 

 8           used not only to support homeownership 

 9           opportunities, but also rental opportunities 

10           and other community-controlled housing 

11           structures. 

12                  We also want to request the creation 

13           of a CLT acquisition fund, starting with 

14           $50 million to support CLTs being able to 

15           acquire land and take it off the speculative 

16           market. 

17                  And finally, we want to really urge 

18           the passage of TOPA, Tenant Opportunity to 

19           Purchase Act, which would again allow tenants 

20           the first right of refusal, when their 

21           building goes up for sale, to either become 

22           the owners or to have some sort of control in 

23           the ownership structure of their building or 

24           appoint that to a third-party entity like a 


 1           CLT to preserve it as permanently affordable 

 2           and for the residents.  

 3                  And finally -- and I am running out of 

 4           time -- I wanted to just say that we also 

 5           support Good Cause Eviction and a state Right 

 6           to Counsel as well.            

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  And 

 8           now we will move on to Neighborhood 

 9           Preservation Coalition.            

10                  MR. STREB:  Good evening.  My name is 

11           Mark Streb, executive director of the 

12           Neighborhood Preservation Coalition.  Thank 

13           you for the opportunity to speak. 

14                  The Neighborhood Preservation 

15           Coalition consists of more than 130 local, 

16           boots-on-the-ground not-for-profits who work 

17           every day to help make consistent, safe, and 

18           affordable housing a reality for 

19           low-to-moderate-income residents across the 

20           state. These groups are called Neighborhood 

21           Preservation Companies, or NPCs.  

22                  The Neighborhood Preservation Program 

23           was created by the forward-thinking 

24           Legislature to provide resources to these 


 1           NPCs.  NPCs around the state provide a 

 2           variety of services, including eviction 

 3           protection, homelessness prevention, 

 4           workforce training, youth and senior citizen 

 5           programs, and much, much more. 

 6                  The COVID pandemic has only 

 7           exacerbated the incredible need for these 

 8           services.  These groups have stepped up to 

 9           the plate and have done more than ever 

10           before.  The Neighborhood Preservation 

11           Coalition was formed to provide technical 

12           assistance, training in relevant subjects, 

13           and to give NPCs a unified voice.  

14                  They actually named my budget 

15           testimony this year "Disappointment and 

16           Optimism."  We feel disappointment because 

17           the Executive Budget proposal maintains a 

18           flat funding amount of 12.8 million for the 

19           Neighborhood Preservation Program.  Funding 

20           for this program has remained flat for many 

21           years with, inflation and everyday costs of 

22           doing business increasing at an annual basis.  

23           Flat funding equates to a cut in funding.  We 

24           request funding of 14.5 million for the 


 1           Neighborhood Preservation Program.  

 2                  We feel disappointments because the 

 3           Executive Budget proposal failed to include 

 4           funding for the Neighborhood Preservation 

 5           Coalition.  Again, thanks to the support of 

 6           the forward-thinking Legislature, we have 

 7           traditionally been funded in the final 

 8           budget.  Unfortunately, our level of funding 

 9           has been stagnant at 150,000 for two 

10           decades -- 20 years -- even though the 

11           services provided seem to grow. 

12                  We therefore respectfully request an 

13           increase of 250,000.  This desperately needed 

14           funding will allow us to maintain and 

15           increase the resources we provide our 

16           130 members across New York State.  

17                  We feel optimism because 

18           Governor Hochul's housing plan will create 

19           and preserve 100,000 affordable homes, 

20           including 10,000 homes with support services 

21           for vulnerable populations.  We feel optimism 

22           because the Executive Budget also funds 

23           crucial preservation efforts with 450 million 

24           for multifamily preservation; 20 million for 


 1           the Homeowner Protection Program; 26 million 

 2           for the Affordable Housing Corporation; and 

 3           400 million for affordable home capital.  

 4                  In closing, we request that the 

 5           Neighborhood Preservation Program be funded 

 6           at 14.5 million and the Neighborhood 

 7           Preservation Coalition at 250,000.

 8                  Thank you very much.            

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

10                  And now, Community Housing Improvement 

11           Program.  

12                  MR. CONDON:  Thank you, and thank you 

13           for the opportunity to testify tonight. 

14                  My name is Joseph Condon.  I'm 

15           providing this testimony on behalf of the 

16           Community Housing Improvement Program.  CHIP 

17           is an advocacy organization.  Our members are 

18           mostly owners and operators of small and 

19           mid-sized rental buildings throughout the 

20           five boroughs.  

21                  Despite being owners and operators of 

22           rental housing, we consider ourselves to be 

23           true housing advocates, because we want a 

24           housing policy that works for everyone.  We 


 1           advocate for policies that lead to a better 

 2           marketplace of housing options for all.  And 

 3           we want real solutions for the tenants who 

 4           can't afford to pay their rent, and that's 

 5           the most pressing issue facing renters and 

 6           housing providers today:  The large amount of 

 7           rental debt that has been accrued over the 

 8           last few years, and the significant need for 

 9           rent assistance to cover that debt. 

10                  Although ERAP has helped many, there 

11           are still about 135,000 applications that 

12           cannot be paid out because of the lack of 

13           funding.  And based on the current average 

14           payout, an additional $1.7 billion would be 

15           necessary just to handle the current 

16           application load. 

17                  But what is not well known is that 

18           there are many renters out there with arrears 

19           who did not apply for ERAP.  Based upon a 

20           survey of our membership, it seems that about 

21           half of all tenants in arrears have not 

22           applied for ERAP.  Statewide, that would 

23           translate to about 200,000 renter households, 

24           and in New York City alone that equates to 


 1           about 132,000 renter households.  To cover 

 2           them, an additional 2.5 billion would be 

 3           required, and that would resolve rental debt 

 4           for this category of renters. 

 5                  In total, about $4.2 billion is 

 6           necessary to address all pre-2022 

 7           pandemic-related arrears.  We believe this 

 8           renouncing of tenant debt should be a 

 9           priority for this body and for the state 

10           budget negotiations.  

11                  But that number is really just a 

12           current snapshot, because there is no time 

13           limit on when arrears can be accrued for the 

14           ERAP program.  A tenant could lose their job, 

15           stop paying rent next month, and still be 

16           covered by ERAP.  Even further, a tenant who 

17           received ERAP may still be facing job loss or 

18           income loss and be unable to pay rent moving 

19           forward. 

20                  Based on our surveys, repeat tenants 

21           like that make up a significant portion of 

22           all rental arrears in housing.  So a separate 

23           program is really needed to assist renters 

24           facing financial hardship or limited income 


 1           to pay future rents.  And while the price tag 

 2           of pandemic-related assistance appears 

 3           significant, the long-term benefits of 

 4           providing that relief are even greater.  

 5                  The reason we are so focused on 

 6           addressing rental arrears and future rent 

 7           burdens is because research shows that rent 

 8           subsidies and cash assistance are the most 

 9           effective policy responses to ameliorate high 

10           housing costs, low incomes, and income 

11           inequality.  

12                  There is a compelling body of evidence 

13           that increasingly shows that structural 

14           interventions, like access to long-term 

15           housing subsidies, improve future housing 

16           stability.  And income support policies 

17           designed to reduce poverty also reduce the 

18           risk of homelessness. 

19                  And for those renters who are 

20           experiencing significant rent increases in 

21           rents due to neighborhood changes, rent 

22           assistance can prevent displacement there as 

23           well.  Research also shows that vouchers help 

24           low-income households remain in neighborhoods 


 1           as they gentrify. 

 2                  Thank you for the opportunity to 

 3           testify and to all of the Assemblymembers and 

 4           Senators who stayed on this late.            

 5                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you. 

 6                  And we are going to go first to 

 7           Assemblywoman Hyndman.

 8                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN HYNDMAN:  Thank you.  

 9           Thank you for all of your testimony.  

10                  My questions are going to be just 

11           directed at Joseph Condon.  

12                  So your owners, the small owners, 

13           would you say the majority of them are people 

14           that own less than four units?            

15                  MR. CONDON:  No.  They would be people 

16           who own typically list than 30 units, I would 

17           say.  Less than 50 units, somewhere in that 

18           range.            

19                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN HYNDMAN:  Oh, okay.  So 

20           one of the things that I have gotten a lot of 

21           reports on is that for some of these 

22           properties where there is a large amount of 

23           arrears in rent, that investors are buying 

24           some these properties.  Have any your smaller 


 1           owners experienced this?            

 2                  MR. CONDON:  We have -- we have owners 

 3           who experienced this, yes, almost on a daily 

 4           basis.  There are investment companies,  

 5           brokers reaching out to them asking them if 

 6           they are ready to sell.  And I think you will 

 7           see it a lot in the smaller buildings.            

 8                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN HYNDMAN:  The smaller 

 9           buildings.  What kind of outreach -- how does 

10           one find your organization?  Because up until 

11           recently I had never heard about it.  Because 

12           we have some -- quite a few buildings that 

13           are owned or have been in the family, like 

14           your testimony says, and now that they 

15           haven't been able to receive any rent -- and 

16           not because their tenants haven't applied.  

17           They have applied, like you said, and they 

18           have not been processed for ERAP.  And a lot 

19           of them are still waiting, or what they 

20           received is far less than what they had hoped 

21           to receive.  

22                  So what kind of outreach do you do to 

23           get people involved in your organization?            

24                  MR. CONDON:  We sort of just do 


 1           educational events, mostly, teaching people 

 2           how to manage property and run properties 

 3           efficiently.  

 4                  I would be happy to have a follow-up 

 5           conversation with you, Assemblymember, and 

 6           reach out -- find out who those property 

 7           owners are and reach out and, you know, 

 8           provide some assistance. 

 9                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN HYNDMAN:  Do you see a 

10           lot more women buying properties now?            

11                  MR. CONDON:  I can't say that I see a 

12           lot more women buying properties.  I can say 

13           that just as far as our organization is 

14           concerned, we do have a lot of females who 

15           are involved in the management or the 

16           principal ownership of the properties.  But I 

17           can't speak to who is coming into the market.            

18                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN HYNDMAN:  And my last 

19           question is, for those tenants who could have 

20           applied but did not apply for ERAP, why do 

21           you think that is?            

22                  MR. CONDON:  Either a lack of 

23           knowledge of the program or a lack of -- I 

24           think that's probably it.  Lack of knowledge. 


 1                  And, you know, there probably were 

 2           some tenants who couldn't apply because of 

 3           technological issues as well.  You know, 

 4           that's probably a small portion of the people 

 5           who didn't apply.  I would say that most of 

 6           the larger portion is people who just didn't 

 7           know about the program.            

 8                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN HYNDMAN:  Okay.  Thank 

 9           you very much.  That's my time. 

10                  Thank you, Chair Weinstein.

11                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Senator  

12           Krueger?            

13                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  I see 

14           Brian Kavanagh, our Housing chair.            

15                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Thank you very 

16           much.  

17                  I will be brief, other than just to 

18           note, in response to the Neighborhood 

19           Preservation Coalition testimony for, you 

20           know, a lot going on today, but just to note 

21           that I asked specifically about one of the 

22           issues that he raised.  I asked the 

23           commissioner why was there no money for the 

24           coalitions themselves, and the commissioner 


 1           said she believed there was.  So we -- our 

 2           analysis suggested that that was excluded 

 3           too. 

 4                  But we will be following up.  And, you 

 5           know, we'll also be talking about the 

 6           increase that you're proposing here today. 

 7                  And just -- I'm just going to make an 

 8           observation.  Which is CHIP, as was noted, is 

 9           an organization of landlords, property 

10           owners.  But just to say it is -- first of 

11           all, I appreciate your coming here and 

12           testifying today.  

13                  And it is also refreshing that we are 

14           hearing, you know, strong support for rental 

15           subsidy programs.  That's actually been true 

16           throughout our negotiations around the 

17           Emergency Rental Assistance Program.  And 

18           just to say the advocacy that needs to happen 

19           now going forward, around making sure that we 

20           get adequate funding from the federal and the 

21           state budget to cover those arrears -- you 

22           know, we heard very strong testimony from 

23           tenant organizations earlier to that effect.  

24           And we have the Housing Access Voucher 


 1           Program, which is meant to be a permanent 

 2           program for that purpose.  And again, that is 

 3           a top priority of many of the tenant 

 4           organizations.  

 5                  So although I don't want to gloss over 

 6           often major policy differences -- and I know 

 7           they exist -- but just to say it is a good 

 8           moment that we have landlords and tenants 

 9           pushing for solutions that really will help.  

10                  I'm sorry, I'm just going to make that 

11           observation, but let me yield the rest of my 

12           time at this late hour back to my colleagues.            

13                  MR. CONDON:  Thank you, Senator.            

14                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

15                  So we go to Assemblyman Epstein.

16                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thank you, 

17           Chair.  And I want thank all the panelists.  

18                  I really -- I think the conversations 

19           around community land trust are something 

20           that is really -- we are far behind the eight 

21           ball, so I really would appreciate you all 

22           advancing these conversations. 

23                  I am wondering, besides money, are 

24           there structural changes that we and the 


 1           state need to do to allow CLTs to function on 

 2           a higher level?  Or what are things we need 

 3           to do, you know, to do some things better?  I 

 4           know it is a big bill we are trying to push, 

 5           but are there other things that you're 

 6           seeing, financial or not, that we're missing 

 7           out on?            

 8                  MS. BERNKOPF:  I can start us off with 

 9           that.  

10                  I think one of the reasons why we need 

11           so much funding is specifically the 

12           acquisition process.  Right?  A lot of 

13           folks -- East Harlem/El Barrio actually 

14           looked at publicly owned land with the 

15           expectation that that might be easier to 

16           access and easier to transfer into collective 

17           community ownership.  That being said, what 

18           it did leave us with was incredible 

19           development and rehabilitation expenses.  

20           Right?  

21                  And so I wonder what would be possible 

22           if we -- if community groups were given 

23           access to properties that weren't 

24           deteriorated or neglected or in terrible 


 1           condition, and were in solid condition and 

 2           given a smoother pathway to transition from 

 3           private, speculative ownership to community 

 4           control.  

 5                  And so I think TOPA is one, like, 

 6           really clear pathway for that to be possible, 

 7           but I don't think it's the only one.  And at 

 8           the city level we've also been working on a 

 9           Public Land for Public Good campaign that's 

10           looking at prioritizing community land trusts 

11           in disbursement of city-owned land.  And it 

12           creates another pathway for the transfer of 

13           land into community stewardship and 

14           ownership.  

15                  And I think that's a really concrete 

16           way to make things easier for a community 

17           land trust to expand and reach the scale that 

18           we're going for, right?  Because individual 

19           properties here and there are not going to 

20           radically change the housing landscape and 

21           address the housing crisis that we're all 

22           trying to really work at the root causes of. 

23           We need something that will bring us to 

24           scale.            


 1                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thank you.            

 2                  And so, Joseph, if I could just -- 

 3           sorry, Elise, I was going to -- if I can, to 

 4           Joseph, just -- I heard you about, great, 

 5           that we're all on the same page about rent 

 6           arrears for residential tenants.  And I just 

 7           wanted to make sure where you are on the rent 

 8           arrears for commercial tenants as well.  

 9                  What are we hearing from small 

10           property owners?  Are they seeing some of 

11           their commercial tenants really in crisis as 

12           well, and do we need to be doing something 

13           specifically to support that?            

14                  MR. CONDON:  There is still a 

15           significant lack of commercial properties 

16           being able to either reoccupy those 

17           storefronts or make good on those arrears.  

18                  So, you know, for those properties 

19           where they do have those storefronts or 

20           restaurants or whatever the ground floor 

21           commercial space is, those typically make up 

22           a significant portion of the -- of the budget 

23           for that building.  And yeah, I'd say there 

24           still is probably a significant concern 


 1           there.            

 2                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Yeah, happy to 

 3           talk offline more about that as well, to both 

 4           the CLT folks and to the CHIP about kind of 

 5           how we can help the small property owners and 

 6           the commercial tenants.

 7                  And thank you, Chair.  

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  I don't believe 

 9           there's other Senators, so we're going to --

10                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  No.  We want to 

11           thank this panel very much.  

12                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Oh, no, we do 

13           have some other Assemblymembers. 

14                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Oh, excuse me. 

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So we're going 

16           to have to go first to Assemblyman Burdick 

17           and then Assemblywoman Niou.

18                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Thank you.  

19                  And I appreciate all of the testimony 

20           provided and certainly support the advocacy 

21           for increasing funding for Neighborhood 

22           Preservation Programs and other 

23           community-based efforts. 

24                  There was some mention, if I heard it 


 1           correctly, that there could be more access to 

 2           state-owned land.  And this came up earlier 

 3           in the hearing, and I'm wondering if anyone 

 4           can expand on that.  When I asked that 

 5           question earlier, the reply was that whenever 

 6           there is a disposition of any state land, 

 7           before that's done, there should first be an 

 8           evaluation of whether or not there may be 

 9           opportunities for affordable housing.  

10                  And I'm just wondering if you could 

11           comment on that and how you think the 

12           Legislature could go forward in this budget 

13           to try to promote that.  

14                  I invite any of you who may be 

15           familiar with it.  Elise, you're unmuting, so 

16           I assume that you --  

17                  MS. GOLDIN:  Yeah.  You know, I'm not 

18           familiar with the state process of getting -- 

19           kind of disposing of state land.  You know, 

20           like Athena said, we are working in the city, 

21           in New York City, to try to adjust the city 

22           charter to say that when the city gets rid of 

23           publicly owned land that there should be a 

24           first -- like a prioritization process of 


 1           CLTs and then --

 2                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Right.  And 

 3           could I ask any of the non-city people 

 4           whether they might have any thoughts on this 

 5           as well?

 6                  MR. STREB:  In general, any 

 7           opportunity to have land that the state owns 

 8           that we could use for housing just drives 

 9           down the costs of the housing structure.            

10                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Right. 

11                  MR. STREB:  So from that aspect, yes.            

12                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Well, that's 

13           good.  I think that offline I would like to 

14           work with the advocates for this. 

15                  Thanks very much.            

16                  MS. GOLDIN:  Yes.  I also will just 

17           say I know that there is a fight right now at 

18           5 World Trade Center, that I believe is a 

19           state-controlled site, where there is a 

20           proposal for housing to be built.  You know, 

21           a very small portion might be, you know, 

22           affordable in some sense.  But there is a 

23           fight to put that in a community trust and 

24           have it be in the hands of people who are 


 1           going to make sure that it is 100 percent 

 2           affordable for community members.            

 3                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Great.            

 4           Thank you. 

 5                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you. 

 6                  Assemblywoman Niou.  

 7                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  I am just really 

 8           glad that Elise brought that up, because I am 

 9           a huge supporter of trying to make the 

10           5 World Trade Center affordable housing. 

11                  And I also wanted to mention -- you 

12           were talking about community land trusts 

13           being established citywide.  Are there any 

14           land trusts currently serving tenants, or are 

15           they all still under development?            

16                  MS. BERNKOPF:  I just want to clarify 

17           the question.  Do you mean if there any 

18           community land trusts that currently have 

19           established housing that are renting and 

20           operating with residents in them?            

21                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  Yes. 

22                  MS. BERNKOPF:  Yes, there are. 

23           Definitely at the city level there is 

24           Cooper Square, that has been in operation 


 1           since at least the '90s and has achieved 

 2           truly deep, affordable levels of the -- of 

 3           course, when it started out, it was --

 4                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  I love 

 5           Cooper Square.

 6                  MS. BERNKOPF:  Right.

 7                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  Give them props, 

 8           of course.  

 9                  MS. BERNKOPF:  At the state level 

10           there are community land trusts, but I'm less 

11           familiar with where they're at in terms of 

12           residents.  I don't know if Elise or others 

13           here have information on that.            

14                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  On the state end.  

15                  MS. BERNKOPF:  Right.            

16                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  She's having a 

17           hard think.            

18                  MS. GOLDIN:  I am having a hard think, 

19           yeah.            

20                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  Yeah.  So I just 

21           like kind of want to ask like what are some 

22           of the biggest obstacles for folks trying to 

23           establish these land trusts?  And is it just 

24           a question of capital, or do we have other 


 1           difficulties like acquiring properties and 

 2           getting them developed?  

 3                  I know that like, for example, in 

 4           Chinatown we're very interested in 

 5           establishing a community land trust, but 

 6           there is -- there is, you know, a property 

 7           issue as in like certain, you know, things 

 8           that are going on that are a little bit more 

 9           difficult like for certain places.  So would 

10           love to kind of just see if I could pick your 

11           brains on that.            

12                  MS. BERNKOPF:  Unless, Elise, you're 

13           ready to go.  I know we're running out of 

14           time.  

15                  I know there's always the "what do we 

16           do besides money" question, but honestly it 

17           usually comes back to the money.  

18                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  So it is capital.  

19                  MS. BERNKOPF:  Yeah, it's either are 

20           we able to access any property at all, right, 

21           either at low cost or -- and in our 

22           situation, the city did transfer us their 

23           properties for $1 apiece.  But again, they 

24           were in really bad condition to the point 


 1           that we're investing at least, you know, 

 2           $13 million just in the rehab of four 

 3           buildings alone.  And that's 38 residential 

 4           units.  The scale is not comparative to the 

 5           need that we have across the city, much less 

 6           the state.  

 7                  Even beyond just the general capital 

 8           needs, there's the training that really is 

 9           crucial to be able to prepare residents 

10           themselves to do the meaningful management 

11           and collective ownership part of it.  You 

12           don't just give someone a property and say, 

13           Here, now you've got your home, it's yours 

14           now, and flourish.  It doesn't really work 

15           that way.  

16                  We need resources, we need training 

17           and ongoing support for the maintenance of 

18           the property so they don't just become 

19           another deteriorated property in another 

20           decade or so that needs the support that we 

21           invested in the first place.            

22                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  Thank you for 

23           that.            

24                  MS. GOLDIN:  Yeah, and I think -- I 


 1           think creating policies like TOPA, that 

 2           creates really a right for tenants to be able 

 3           to take over their property and have that be 

 4           an established right, is really important.  

 5                  And I just wanted to also add that the 

 6           City Roots CLT is an upstate group that has 

 7           tenants on their community land trust.

 8                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  Great.  Thank 

 9           you.            

10                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you. 

11                  This ends the questions for this 

12           panel.

13                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  I think it does, 

14           yes. 

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  I want to thank 

16           you all for being here with us today.  

17                  And we're going to move on to Panel E:  

18           Children's Defense Fund-New York, Ben 

19           Anderson, director of economic mobility and 

20           health policy; Lead Free Kids New York, Sonal 

21           Jessel, director of policy; Clean and Healthy 

22           New York, Paul Webster, director of programs.  

23                  And if we can go in that order, 

24           starting with Children's Defense Fund.            


 1                  MR. ANDERSON:  Good evening.  Thank 

 2           you.  My name is Ben Anderson.  Again, I'm 

 3           the director of economic mobility and health 

 4           policy at the Children's Defense 

 5           Fund-New York.  I want to thank the chairs 

 6           for the opportunity to speak this evening.  

 7                  As most folks know, Children's Defense 

 8           Fund grew out of the civil rights movement, 

 9           and our work is at the intersection of racial 

10           justice and child advocacy.  And I'm here 

11           today to talk to you about childhood lead 

12           exposure and the need for more funding in the 

13           state budget. 

14                  New York has more children with 

15           elevated blood lead levels than any other 

16           state in the U.S.  There are some communities 

17           in New York where the rate of exposure is 

18           five to six times higher than Flint, 

19           Michigan, at the peak of its lead crisis.  

20           Some of these communities are in pockets of 

21           the Bronx, Brooklyn, and others are 

22           concentrated in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, 

23           Utica, and Albany.  The impacted communities 

24           and impacted children are disproportionately 


 1           Black and Latinx.  And to give you a sense of 

 2           the scale of the problem we're facing 

 3           statewide, roughly 28,000 children are born 

 4           every year who will suffer from childhood 

 5           lead exposure.  That's about 12 percent of 

 6           all births in New York each year. 

 7                  Now, I won't go into detail this 

 8           evening about the health impacts but will 

 9           briefly say that we're talking about 

10           completely preventable but irreversible harm 

11           to the brain.  Year after year, children 

12           continue to suffer because the system we have 

13           now is primarily one that waits until 

14           children show up at the doctor with high lead 

15           levels before anyone will do anything to 

16           eliminate the hazard in the child's housing. 

17                  So in effect, we are treating these 

18           children like canaries in a coal mine instead 

19           of going out and proactively finding and 

20           fixing lead hazards.  

21                  In New York the total lifetime 

22           economic burden of this system is roughly 

23           $6.4 billion for children born in 2019 alone.  

24           For these reasons, Lead Free Kids New York 


 1           and the Children's Defense Fund are 

 2           advocating for a $1 billion funding package 

 3           that will set New York on a path to eliminate 

 4           childhood lead exposure.  

 5                  The funding package includes support 

 6           for many different state agencies, and I will 

 7           focus just a little bit on the funding for 

 8           HCR.  Specifically, the package includes 

 9           $500 million for HCR to work with communities 

10           to find and fix lead hazards.  This means 

11           providing grants to the lowest-income 

12           homeowners and landlords to do the work.  

13                  I'll go ahead and stop there and pass 

14           it on to my other panelists.            

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you. 

16                  We'll move on to Lead Free Kids 

17           New York. 

18                  MS. JESSEL:  Thank you.  Good evening. 

19           Thank you to the chairs for the opportunity 

20           to testify regarding the New York State 

21           budget on housing.  

22                  My name is Sonal Jessel.  I'm the 

23           director of policy at WE ACT for 

24           Environmental Justice.  I have my master's in 


 1           public health from Columbia University. 

 2                  WE ACT was established in 1988 and has 

 3           been involved in the fight against lead 

 4           poisoning since then.  Today I'm here as a 

 5           leader of the Lead Free Kids New York 

 6           Coalition, which is a coalition of experts 

 7           and advocates committed to preventing and 

 8           eradicating lead poisoning in New York State. 

 9                  We are asking New York State to commit 

10           $1 billion to fund sweeping lead poison 

11           prevention efforts.  Particularly, we're 

12           asking for a budget allocation of $500 

13           million through HCR. 

14                  Lead poisoning leads to severe 

15           behavioral and developmental issues.  There 

16           is no safe level of lead.  The American 

17           Academy of Pediatrics even says that lead 

18           below the allowed concentrations we currently 

19           have in New York State is a causal risk 

20           factor for diminished intellectual and 

21           academic abilities and neurobehavioral 

22           disorders like ADHD, for example.

23                  There are no truly effective 

24           treatments to reverse the damage of lead 


 1           poisoning.  Lead-based paint in buildings is 

 2           our most significant source of lead in the 

 3           state.  According to Columbia University, 

 4           there are about 5.3 million housing units in 

 5           New York State that contain possible 

 6           lead-based paint hazards.  

 7                  New York State has thousands of 

 8           children with elevated blood lead levels, and 

 9           this is because New York State has the oldest 

10           housing stock in the country.  That's the 

11           primary driver.  For decades, our state's 

12           decisionmakers have been sitting on a lead 

13           poisoning crisis without any major sweeping 

14           statewide action. 

15                  Childhood lead poisoning 

16           disproportionately impacts children of color 

17           across the state:  Black/African-American, 

18           number one; Latinx and Asian children also 

19           have very high rates of lead poisoning.  And 

20           this is due to the lack of adequate resources 

21           and support given to communities to upgrade 

22           or remediate old buildings and a lack of good 

23           enforcement for landlords to remediate lead 

24           hazards in their buildings. 


 1                  So we're asking for 500 million from 

 2           housing this year, through HCR.  We're asking 

 3           for 50 million of that to be put aside for 

 4           HCR administrative needs, but the other 

 5           450 million going to programs to directly 

 6           assist low-income property owners and 

 7           landlords across the state to remediate lead 

 8           hazards in their properties.  

 9                  We have calculated -- with inflation, 

10           supply chain costs, labor costs -- that it's 

11           about $33,000 to remediate a home, on 

12           average.  So with $450 million in funding, we 

13           can fund 15,000 lead-free units across the 

14           state, which would be sweeping. 

15                  And we know that lead exposure happens 

16           when a house is a repeat offender, so when a 

17           family moves out, being lead poisoned, 

18           another family moves in, gets lead poisoned, 

19           and it continues the cycle.  So remediating a 

20           house completely would help multiple families 

21           that live in that home over a long period of 

22           time. 

23                  So thank you very much for your time.            

24                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  I 


 1           do not believe that we have questions.  I 

 2           think the three of you have really presented 

 3           the situation that we're facing in our 

 4           housing regarding lead and the impact on 

 5           children very well.  And --            

 6                  THE MODERATOR:  Assemblywoman, there 

 7           is one more panelist, Paul Webster.  

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Yes.  Paul 

 9           Webster is here with us.            

10                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Oh, I'm sorry.            

11           They did such a good job.  

12                  (Laughter.)

13                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  I don't know 

14           what they left for you to talk about, Paul.            

15                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  For the record, 

16           that's also why I hadn't raised my hand yet. 

17                  (Laughter.)

18                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Go ahead. 

19           Give us some more information.  Give us 

20           something new.

21                  MR. WEBSTER:  Yes, thank you so much 

22           to the chairs, Senator, Assemblywoman, and 

23           the Housing chairs as well.  

24                  I'm Paul Webster, policy director for 


 1           Clean and Healthy New York.  And Clean and 

 2           Healthy is one of the core organizations 

 3           that's in the Lead Free Kids New York 

 4           Coalition and the Just Green Partnership.  

 5           You know, we have dozens of environmental 

 6           health, environmental justice organizations 

 7           that are part of our group and about 80 

 8           organizations representing more than a 

 9           million New Yorkers.  

10                  And as you've heard from my other 

11           colleagues, the doctors and scientists tell 

12           us that there's no safe level of lead in our 

13           bodies, yet New York State has the 

14           unfortunate distinction of having the highest 

15           percentage of children in the nation with 

16           elevated blood lead levels driven by 

17           something we're a leader in, and that's our 

18           aging housing stock. 

19                  As Sonal mentioned earlier, there are 

20           more than 5.3 million homes in New York State 

21           that were built prior to lead being 

22           prohibited in 1978.  And of these homes, 

23           roughly 630,000 of them have children 

24           present.  As a result, New York faces 


 1           increased impairment to these children in 

 2           their ability to think, learn, and 

 3           concentrate.  Lead poisoning can affect 

 4           nearly every organ in our bodies, and recent 

 5           research shows that adult exposure also can 

 6           lead to heart disease.  

 7                  Renovating and repairing poorly 

 8           maintained housing is the best way to protect 

 9           New York's children from the irreversible 

10           damage that is caused by the ingestion of 

11           lead.  A half century after New York State 

12           banned the sale of lead paint in 1971, 

13           New York State still, again, leads the nation 

14           in the number of children with lead poisoning 

15           and, again, lead-impacted housing.  

16                  And that's why our coalition proposed 

17           a $1 billion investment in New York State's 

18           lead poisoning elimination project, and of 

19           which we noted $500 million for lead 

20           renovation and repair within the budget of 

21           DHCR and several other agencies.  I mean, 

22           we're very happy that the Governor proposed 

23           record funding in the housing and the 

24           environmental and other budgets, but really 


 1           not enough was done to combat the scourge of 

 2           primary lead poisoning, which is from poorly 

 3           maintained housing.  

 4                  If you live in 20 zip codes in 

 5           New York State -- six in Erie County, five in 

 6           Monroe County, three in Onondaga County and 

 7           Syracuse, two in Utica and then in Albany, 

 8           Middletown, Newburgh and White Plains -- 

 9           those 20 zip codes account for 40 percent of 

10           New York State's childhood lead poisoning.  

11           And that comes from, again, housing that has 

12           not been maintained. 

13                  And this bold development of 

14           $500 million will really go a short way in 

15           addressing the problem.  As Sonal noted, 

16           there are more than 15,000 houses that would 

17           be impacted by this $500 million investment, 

18           but we have 5.3 million houses with lead 

19           present.  So this will be a start, but we 

20           still have a long way to go and there needs 

21           to be continued and consistent investment in 

22           eliminating lead-based hazards in New York 

23           State.  

24                  And with our surplus this year and 


 1           close to $28 billion in surpluses identified 

 2           by Governor Kathy Hochul over the next five 

 3           years, this is the time to start making that 

 4           investment in eliminating the problem of lead 

 5           poisoning. 

 6                  And I'll stop there.  Thank you. 

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 8           Thank you, Mr. Webster. 

 9                  We'll go to the Assembly.  

10           Assemblywoman Niou.            

11                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  First and 

12           foremost, thank you for staying so late.  

13           It's already almost 9:00, so I appreciate all 

14           of your time. 

15                  I especially appreciate your panel's 

16           testimony on this issue with lead blood 

17           levels in our children.  As we know, economic 

18           and ecological segregation is very real, and 

19           I think that children of color are more 

20           impacted more often.  And it only takes like 

21           less than a small fingernail of lead 

22           ingestion to be able to cause permanent, you 

23           know, brain damage and other kinds of growth 

24           issues in children. 


 1                  You noted that average blood levels 

 2           are higher in children of color, Director 

 3           Anderson.  And how much of that is 

 4           attributable to our current public housing 

 5           stock?  And what can we -- you know, I guess, 

 6           what can you tell us specifically about the 

 7           lead situation in our public housing right 

 8           now?  And how far would funding go -- this 

 9           funding go toward tackling lead in our homes?  

10           And how much more would be necessary in order 

11           to make sure that our public housing units 

12           are actually safe for our kids?            

13                  MR. ANDERSON:  Yeah, really great 

14           questions.  

15                  You know, I think the issue of lead in 

16           public housing is really one of equity 

17           because of the disproportionate harms and 

18           hazards that exist there and how many of 

19           those tenants have been treated over time. 

20                  Just in terms of what we know about 

21           the children that we've been able to identify 

22           with elevated blood levels, of the children 

23           identified we see many more of them and a 

24           much higher percentage of them outside of the 


 1           public housing system.  

 2                  But again, I think just speaking as to 

 3           equity issues, I think it's important to 

 4           focus in that space.  And we know in New York 

 5           City, for example, I think work that Sonal 

 6           has been a part of -- that there's been 

 7           efforts to improve conditions with respect to 

 8           lead hazards there.            

 9                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  So what has the 

10           percentage been?  If you're saying it's 

11           mostly outside of public housing.

12                  MR. ANDERSON:  Yeah, I -- 

13                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  What have the 

14           largest numbers been?            

15                  MR. ANDERSON:  Yeah, I don't want to 

16           guess.  But I can get that information for 

17           you after the hearing.            

18                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN NIOU:  Okay.  That would 

19           be very much appreciated.  Thank you so much.            

20                  MR. ANDERSON:  Yes.  You're welcome.            

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you. 

22                  We go to the Senate.            

23                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

24                  I believe we have Senator Brian 


 1           Kavanagh.            

 2                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Yeah.  I'll try to 

 3           be -- first of all, thank you for being here 

 4           and testifying.  We actually had a bit of a 

 5           beginning of a conversation about lead and 

 6           asbestos earlier, and Chair Weinstein 

 7           suggested we await this panel.  So I 

 8           appreciate -- this is great testimony we have 

 9           tonight.

10                  And I've had the opportunity to speak 

11           with each of you about these issues recently.  

12           And, you know, we're working on lead 

13           solutions as well as, you know, the funding 

14           needs tonight.  

15                  But just for clarity, you know, my 

16           Assembly colleague was talking about the 

17           distinction between public housing versus 

18           private housing.  And, you know, because 

19           there was so much justified attention to what 

20           went on in New York City public housing, I 

21           think there is a perception out there that 

22           this is a public housing issue and that it's 

23           a New York City issue.  

24                  You know, you mentioned a moment ago 


 1           that there are zip codes where this is 

 2           particularly concentrated.  Can you just talk 

 3           about the geographic distribution of this 

 4           problem around the state?  Like what -- which 

 5           parts of the state are most affected and, you 

 6           know, where are the highest levels?            

 7                  MR. WEBSTER:  Sure.  Thank you, 

 8           Senator. 

 9                  We have to recall that 85 percent of 

10           New York State's total housing was built 

11           before 1978, so the sensitivity to lead 

12           poisoning and the lead threat that's present 

13           in our houses is every district.  But when we 

14           talk about the zip codes where childhood lead 

15           poisoning is highest, it's in Erie County, 

16           Monroe County, Onondaga, Oneida, Albany, 

17           Orange, Westchester -- those are the counties 

18           where the top 20 zip codes that account for 

19           about 40 percent of the state's childhood 

20           lead poisoning come from, those 20 zip codes.

21                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  And just for 

22           clarity, these are -- this is based on data 

23           where children, very young children's blood 

24           levels are tested at hospitals, and that data 


 1           is aggregated by the Department of Health.  

 2           So these are cases -- and you're saying on a 

 3           per capita basis, those places are 

 4           experiencing very high levels of lead 

 5           poisoning.  

 6                  MR. WEBSTER:  Yes.            

 7                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  Okay.  I think it's 

 8           just important to note that we have a big 

 9           problem in New York City as well, but I think 

10           it's important for people to recognize this 

11           is not just a New York City issue but, in 

12           fact, very much a New York State -- it's a 

13           statewide issue that affects all of us. 

14                  Because I think that it's going to be 

15           important that we get, you know, as broad a 

16           consensus as possible to put the kind of 

17           resources we're talking about.  And, as you 

18           know, we had a hearing of the Housing and 

19           Health Committees in the Senate on this issue 

20           as well.  So, you know, we had a lot of great 

21           testimony from your organizations and others, 

22           and we'll continue to do so.  But again, just 

23           to say I join you in, you know, fighting to 

24           get some real funding in this budget. 


 1                  So thank you for your testimony and 

 2           for all of your advocacy in dealing with this 

 3           really heart-wrenching issue.  Thank you.            

 4                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you. 

 5                  We go to Assemblyman Burdick.

 6                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Thank you, 

 7           Chair Weinstein.  

 8                  And just a quick question for 

 9           Mr. Webster.  You just mentioned that there 

10           are 20 zip codes, which include Westchester 

11           County.  Can you tell me which zip codes in 

12           Westchester?  

13                  MR. WEBSTER:  It was the 10701.  It 

14           was in White Plains, was the -- 

15                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  White Plains.

16                  MR. WEBSTER:  Yup.

17                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Okay.  And just 

18           that one zip code in Westchester?

19                  MR. WEBSTER:  It was just that one 

20           that made the list of the top 20. 

21                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  The top 20.

22                  MR. WEBSTER:  But again, the 

23           sensitivity to lead poisoning is prevalent in 

24           every district because of the age of our 


 1           housing stock across the state.            

 2                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Thank you so 

 3           much.            

 4                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you. 

 5                  Now I'm going to thank the panel, all 

 6           three of you, for being here with us.  I'm 

 7           sure there will be some follow-up 

 8           communications with you as we move forward. 

 9                  So next I'm going to call Panel F:  

10           ERASE Racism, Elaine Gross, president; 

11           Citizens Housing and Planning Council, 

12           Katherine Leitch, senior policy analyst; 

13           Community Service Society, Samuel Stein, 

14           housing policy analyst.

15                  And we can go in that order.  Thank 

16           you so much.            

17                  MS. GROSS:  Good evening, 

18           Assemblymembers and Senators.  My name is 

19           Elaine Gross, and I'm the president of ERASE 

20           Racism, a Long Island-based civil rights 

21           organization.  And part of our work includes 

22           working for housing and education. 

23                  So my testimony is related to the 

24           creation of accessory dwelling units.  Our 


 1           organization supports the creation of ADUs 

 2           because we see it as having the potential for 

 3           some public good because of their potential 

 4           to increase affordable housing stock. 

 5                  However, there are some issues with 

 6           the legislation as it appears in the 

 7           Governor's budget.  There are three concerns 

 8           which I will speak about, and basically I 

 9           fear that these concerns mean that the ADUs 

10           are not going to be accessible to all 

11           New Yorkers. 

12                  So first, the bill must clearly state 

13           that ADUs shall abide by fair housing and 

14           tenant protection laws.  There's abundant 

15           evidence, including from the ERASE Racism 

16           housing discrimination lawsuits, that 

17           individuals are still denied rental housing 

18           because they are Black, with our lawsuits, 

19           but also because of protected 

20           characteristics, other protected 

21           characteristics -- race, source of income, 

22           et cetera. 

23                  In addition, the ADU bill must require 

24           that the ADUs are held to standards related 


 1           to habitability and all tenant protections.  

 2                  The second issue I raise is that the 

 3           ADU units shall not be exempt from the -- 

 4           what's called the Mrs. Murphy exemption, and 

 5           members of the public should be made aware of 

 6           these units. 

 7                  Units that are not being used by 

 8           family members shall be made known to the 

 9           general public.  This can be accomplished via 

10           a state-maintained online registry that is 

11           free to the listing owner or at low cost, 

12           and/or the owners could be required to 

13           publicly advertise vacancies on, again, 

14           regional online rental sites.  Unless 

15           availability is made publicly known 

16           immediately to the region, access will be 

17           severely limited and it will fall along the 

18           same lines as housing discrimination.  

19                  The third and final area that I'll 

20           mention tonight is that the ADU units that 

21           are built with monetary help from the state, 

22           whether it's a loan or a grant, shall be 

23           required to maintain below-market rates to 

24           preserve affordability.  There is a Senate 


 1           bill which states that, states this.  In 

 2           fact, it talks about keeping the rents below 

 3           market rate for at least 15 to 30 years.  

 4                  The Governor's version does not have 

 5           the same provision, and it should.  

 6                  So with these additional protections, 

 7           ERASE Racism can support this bill.  Thank 

 8           you for allowing me to provide this 

 9           testimony.            

10                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

11           being here with us today. 

12                  Citizens Housing and Planning Council.

13                  MS. LEITCH:  Thank you for the 

14           opportunity to testify.  My name is Kate 

15           Leitch, and I am a senior policy analyst at 

16           the Citizens Housing and Planning Council. 

17           CHPC is a nonprofit think tank that has been 

18           dedicated to addressing the city's housing 

19           and planning needs for over 80 years. 

20                  CHPC has spent well over a decade 

21           researching ADUs and basement conversions, 

22           which play an essential but overlooked role 

23           in New York City's housing stock.  In all 

24           facets of our ADU work, we have seen time and 


 1           again that ceiling height, parking minimums, 

 2           and other unnecessarily stringent and 

 3           outdated municipal and state regulations 

 4           often make it impossible for homeowners to 

 5           create a legal accessory unit. 

 6                  This is a problem for both occupant 

 7           safety and housing supply.  The proposed ADU 

 8           act makes important strides towards reducing 

 9           these barriers.  Creating a practical path 

10           for homeowners to add a legal second unit 

11           will make certain that apartments have 

12           appropriate egress, bedrooms have emergency 

13           escape and rescue windows, and occupants have 

14           adequate lights and ventilation. 

15                  As an issue of supply, ADUs allow 

16           localities to increase housing without 

17           significant changes to neighborhood height 

18           and bulk.  ADUs expand housing choice, 

19           they're inherently more affordable, and they 

20           improve access to neighborhoods for 

21           communities who have historically been 

22           excluded. 

23                  For two-family homeowners, the state's 

24           Multiple Dwelling Law can impose almost 


 1           impossible hurdles.  As written, the ADU act 

 2           grants New York City the authority to relieve 

 3           parts of the MDL, but only in circumstances 

 4           where an owner is trying to legalize an 

 5           existing unit.  This is an extremely 

 6           important tool to protect the tens of 

 7           thousands of New Yorkers currently living 

 8           without leasehold rights.  But we strongly 

 9           encourage the Legislature to expand that 

10           authority to cover the creation of all 

11           accessory units.  

12                  As for the concerns about the impact 

13           of ADU legislation on density, there are some 

14           people who believe that there isn't enough 

15           interest.  There are some people who worry 

16           about a population explosion.  And yet others 

17           somehow believe it could be both.  

18                  Thoughtful and considerate 

19           implementation will ensure that it's none of 

20           these.  The state has established a very 

21           thoughtful framework and asks localities to 

22           incorporate the ADU program in ways that are 

23           appropriate to the locality.  ADUs present 

24           the Legislature with a rare opportunity where 


 1           it can help both homeowners and renters, 

 2           seniors aging in place, and first-time 

 3           homebuyers, recent immigrants, and 

 4           multigenerational families.  

 5                  ADU policy promotes private property 

 6           rights and fights segregation.  It solves 

 7           barriers in the MDL and local zoning.  We 

 8           emphatically urge the Legislature to adopt 

 9           this bill.  Thank you.            

10                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  And 

11           now, Community Service Society, please.            

12                  MR. STEIN:  Thanks so much for the 

13           opportunity to testify, and thanks for 

14           sticking it out the entire session.  I know 

15           it's been a long day. 

16                  My name is Sam Stein, and I'm senior 

17           policy analyst at the Community Service 

18           Society, a leading nonprofit organization 

19           that promotes economic opportunity for 

20           New Yorkers.  In our written testimony we 

21           elaborate on the following key priorities for 

22           the upcoming budget, which I will summarize 

23           here. 

24                  First, end and prevent homelessness 


 1           through the following means:  Prevent 

 2           eviction and displacement by creating a 

 3           statewide Right to Counsel to guard against 

 4           illegal evictions; pass Good Cause Eviction 

 5           protections to stop no-fault evictions, and 

 6           ban winter evictions, as cities like Seattle 

 7           have done already; pass the Housing Access 

 8           Voucher Program, a state-funded voucher that 

 9           would operate much like Section 8.  

10                  The commitment of $1 billion towards 

11           this program would aid almost 85,000 families 

12           or individuals in either exiting or 

13           preventing homelessness.  The Housing Our 

14           Neighbors With Dignity Act passed last year, 

15           and it should be expanded to make sure it's 

16           available across the state.  And we should 

17           revisit language included in earlier versions 

18           of the bill regarding land use and 

19           certificates of occupancy that would make it 

20           more useful. 

21                  The Governor's Executive Budget 

22           included a bill that would bar housing 

23           discrimination based on conviction history, 

24           which is extremely important, but it included 


 1           two large carveouts that would decisively 

 2           undermine the bill's intent and impact. 

 3                  Second, we call on the state to fund 

 4           social housing conversions and development. 

 5           Governor Hochul's Executive Budget proposes a 

 6           $50 million social housing pilot program as 

 7           part of her larger home ownership initiative, 

 8           as well as $120 million to reinvest in 

 9           Mitchell-Lama housing.  These are important 

10           steps.  

11                  Another would be the Tenant 

12           Opportunity to Purchase Act.  Under TOPA, 

13           when rental buildings go up for sale, tenants 

14           would have a right of first refusal to either 

15           buy the building and turn it into a limited 

16           equity cooperative, or designate a preferred 

17           buyer to steward the building. 

18                  Third, preserve and protect NYCHA.  We 

19           are deeply disappointed that no commitment 

20           was made to the New York City Housing 

21           Authority in the Governor's budget.  The 

22           authority faces a $40 billion capital backlog 

23           as well as operating shortfalls that force it 

24           to use a portion of its inadequate federal 


 1           capital funds to fill the gap.  The state 

 2           should make a long-term capital commitment of 

 3           $1.5 billion annually to restore NYCHA'S 

 4           infrastructure, a commitment that we will 

 5           also press the city to match. 

 6                  Finally, recouping lost tax revenue by 

 7           ending the 421-a tax exemption by either 

 8           allowing it to expire in June or abolishing 

 9           it sooner. 

10                  Thank you again for the opportunity to 

11           offer comments and for doing this all day 

12           long.            

13                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

14           being here with us today. 

15                  So we had some questions for this 

16           panel.  We'll start first with Assemblyman 

17           Epstein.            

18                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thank you, 

19           Chair. 

20                  To Ms. Gross, I really appreciate your 

21           comments on accessory dwelling units.  Can 

22           you comment about how not having an ADU law 

23           impacts communities on Long Island that you 

24           work in?            


 1                  MS. GROSS:  Of not having the law? 

 2                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Yeah, how not 

 3           having the law in place.            

 4                  MS. GROSS:  Yeah.  Right. 

 5                  So, you know, we -- first of all, we 

 6           have a lot of ADUs.  They're just illegal. 

 7           And, you know, there's -- you know, people 

 8           kind of close their eyes and whatever.  So 

 9           that's one thing. 

10                  The other thing is there are some 

11           300,000 Long Islanders who are 

12           housing-cost-burdened.  That means they pay 

13           over 30 percent of their income on housing.  

14           And the highest percentage of those 

15           households fall in the lowest income 

16           category. 

17                  So I didn't speak to this point, but I 

18           think it's important that there is a low 

19           income and a -- what do they call it -- a low 

20           income and moderate income program that would 

21           help homeowners because it could help them to 

22           make units legal, or build new units, 

23           et cetera.  I think that would be very 

24           important because there are certainly 


 1           homeowners of color kind of holding on, 

 2           trying to hold on, and this would be very 

 3           helpful.  

 4                  So I think that we have such an 

 5           affordable housing problem here, and it is 

 6           a -- it's a statewide problem.  That's why 

 7           we're having this discussion at the state 

 8           level.  But sometimes people on Long Island, 

 9           again, with blinders, think that we don't 

10           have a problem out here.  But we do.  

11                  Thank you for your time.            

12                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thank you.  

13                  And to Ms. Leitch and Mr. Stein, I 

14           just wanted to hear your sense -- I know you 

15           mentioned ADUs.  I just want to make sure 

16           that -- where you both are.  And if we have 

17           time, Mr. Stein, can you tell me what the 

18           state should be doing for public housing? 

19                  MR. STEIN:  I can start, or you can?  

20           Okay.  

21                  Well, we support the ADU legislation.  

22           It's an extremely important element of 

23           housing policy.  We want to, you know, fight 

24           to ensure that it has the strongest possible 


 1           protections for tenants and low-income folks, 

 2           whether they're the homeowner or the tenant. 

 3           But we absolutely support it. 

 4                  In terms of public housing, we're 

 5           calling for a $1.5 billion annual commitment, 

 6           and we'll be doing the same from the --

 7                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Capital or 

 8           operating or both?            

 9                  MR. STEIN:  Certainly capital is a 

10           priority, but the operating is essential 

11           because we're just pulling out of the capital 

12           budget to fund the operating deficit. 

13                  Kate, do you want a chance? 

14                  MS. LEITCH:  Sure.  CHPC is an ardent 

15           supporter of the ADU legislation for both 

16           housing supply and for occupant safety.  It 

17           is an essential source of income for modest-,  

18           low-, and moderate-income homeowners.  It 

19           allows people aging in place to remain there 

20           with a home health aide, with the help of 

21           extended family, with the extra income. 

22                  So from a housing supply side, it is 

23           essential.  But with the housing crisis, 

24           unless we can provide a safe and affordable 


 1           alternative, we're going to have people 

 2           turning to these informal units unless we can 

 3           make them accessible and legal.  And if we 

 4           can provide a streamlined pathway to 

 5           legalization that prioritizes essential 

 6           safety requirements, we will go far in 

 7           improving the safety of thousands, tens of 

 8           thousands of New Yorkers living in these 

 9           units right now.            

10                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thank you very 

11           much.  

12                  I think my time expired.  So Chair 

13           Krueger, I turn it back to you.            

14                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  Thank 

15           you very much.  

16                  And I'm going to turn it over to Pete 

17           Harckham.            

18                  SENATOR HARCKHAM:  Thank you very 

19           much, Madam Chair.  

20                  Good evening, everybody.  Thank you to 

21           our panelists for sticking it out.  I greatly 

22           appreciate it.  

23                  And I really want to thank you for 

24           your unvarnished testimony on ADUs.  There's 


 1           so much disinformation, and the other side is 

 2           just, you know, a lot of dog whistles.  I've 

 3           been around affordable housing for 20 years, 

 4           and everyone becomes a traffic expert and 

 5           everyone becomes a wetlands and a steep slope 

 6           expert.  And so I want to thank you for that.  

 7                  And Elaine, I want to thank you about 

 8           talking about this as an equity issue, 

 9           because we know the greatest barrier to 

10           equality is zip code.  It determines 

11           everything.  And the fact that we have an 

12           opportunity to allow folks to have housing 

13           options in zip codes of opportunity is not 

14           being discussed enough about this bill or 

15           about the opposition to this bill. 

16                  So I want to thank you for bringing 

17           that up.  I think it's central to the 

18           conversation, and it hasn't been to this 

19           point.  So I want to thank you all.            

20                  MS. GROSS:  Absolutely.  Thank you.            

21                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you, 

22           Senator Harckham. 

23                  I think it's back to you, 

24           Assemblywoman.            


 1                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  And we have no 

 2           further questions, so I want to thank all the 

 3           members of this panel for your participation.  

 4                  And we are going to move on to 

 5           Panel G:  ADU New York, Casey Berkovitz, 

 6           coalition coordinator; CNY Fair Housing, 

 7           Inc., Sally Santangelo, executive director; 

 8           Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc., 

 9           Marlene Zarfes, executive director; 

10           Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, 

11           Ryan Chavez, program director; Building and 

12           Realty Institute of Westchester, Timothy 

13           Foley, CEO.

14                  So if we can go in that order, 

15           starting with Casey Berkovitz.

16                  MR. BERKOVITZ:  Hi, there.  Good 

17           evening.  Thank you for the opportunity to 

18           testify and for your patience today.  I know 

19           it's been a long day, and it's still going.

20                  I'd like to focus on the opportunity 

21           that this year's budget presents to legalize 

22           ADUs across New York.  For the past 

23           year-plus, I've been working with a coalition 

24           of advocates from across the state, some of 


 1           whom you've already heard from, some of whom 

 2           you're about to hear from, as well as 

 3           Senator Harckham and Assemblymember Epstein 

 4           and a number of other cosponsors in the 

 5           Legislature on Assembly Bill 4854 and Senate 

 6           Bill 4547 that would also legalize ADUs.  

 7                  I especially want to thank Senator 

 8           Harckham and Assemblymember Epstein and 

 9           others for their engagement with 

10           stakeholders, both to help craft the bill and 

11           then to make amendments that resulted in the 

12           A print that's in the Legislature and that 

13           some of the language of the Governor's 

14           Executive Budget matches as well.  They've 

15           been very responsive to feedback, both 

16           friendly and unfriendly, on the proposal, and 

17           I really appreciate it.  

18                  So by legalizing ADUs like backyard 

19           cottages, garage conversions, in-law units, 

20           basement apartments, we can create extra 

21           income for homeowners, we can create safe and 

22           affordable housing for tenants, we can give 

23           seniors the ability to age in place, and we 

24           can foster healthy and more diverse 


 1           communities.  It's such a win/win policy that 

 2           our coalition of folks who are supporting 

 3           this legislation is really everybody you can 

 4           think of from tenants' rights activists to 

 5           community development organizations to 

 6           homebuilders, industry groups, fair housing 

 7           groups, other folks you've heard from, senior 

 8           advocates, all sorts of folks -- and I'm sure 

 9           I'm forgetting some.

10                  ADUs are an important resource for 

11           both homeowners and tenants.  On the 

12           homeowner side, over one in four homeowners 

13           in the State of New York are cost-burdened, 

14           and an ADU can be an important source of 

15           income for these folks.  On the tenant side, 

16           ADUs are an affordable rental unit, but it's 

17           also key to ensuring that rental housing is 

18           safe.  Legalization is truly the only path to 

19           ensure that the possibly hundreds of 

20           thousands of folks in informal ADUs have a 

21           path to legalization and safety.

22                  I want to clarify that even with 

23           legalized ADUs there's still plenty of local 

24           control.  Local governments write their own 


 1           zoning codes, they can maintain their local 

 2           character.  What legalization would do is it 

 3           would set a quote, unquote, floor to ensure 

 4           that people have housing choices in their 

 5           communities.  

 6                  All of that said, there are a couple 

 7           of improvements that I believe you are in a 

 8           position to make to the Governor's Executive 

 9           Budget proposal.

10                  First and foremost, there will need to 

11           be a more wide-ranging exemption from the 

12           Multiple Dwelling Law.  This was mentioned 

13           previously, and I think will be elaborated 

14           on.  But as written, it essentially makes it 

15           impossible for duplexes to add an ADU, and 

16           that's a critical exclusion that we hope 

17           you'll fix.

18                  Secondly, as Elaine said, ADU 

19           legalization is a critical step forward for 

20           affirmatively further fair housing, but we 

21           need to be sure that ADUs are covered under 

22           the Human Rights Law.  And I've included 

23           language to that end in my written testimony, 

24           and I'm happy to work with all of you to 


 1           address those changes.  

 2                  Thank you very much.

 3                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  CNY 

 4           Fair Housing.

 5                  MS. SANTANGELO:  Good evening, 

 6           everyone, and thank you for the opportunity 

 7           to testify today.  

 8                  My name is Sally Santangelo, and I'm 

 9           the executive director of CNY Fair Housing.  

10           We are a nonprofit fair housing organization 

11           located in Syracuse and serving 17 counties 

12           of central and upstate New York.  

13                  And we work to eliminate housing 

14           discrimination by investigating complaints of 

15           discrimination, conducting undercover 

16           testing, providing counseling, advocacy and 

17           legal representation to victims of 

18           discrimination, educating the community on 

19           fair housing rights, and lastly by providing 

20           technical assistance to municipalities to 

21           improve housing access.  

22                  And I want to focus my comments on a 

23           couple of issues.  First, you know, we want 

24           to express our support for the legalization 


 1           of ADUs.  And to address the affordable 

 2           housing crisis that is facing New Yorkers, we 

 3           need to increase the supply of housing.  And 

 4           this is a great first step in expanding the 

 5           types of housing that can be built in 

 6           communities that have historically limited 

 7           housing opportunity.

 8                  I think this will help in particular 

 9           in providing housing across the state, 

10           including in smaller upstate communities 

11           where we have slower housing markets and 

12           don't often have the demand for larger-scale 

13           housing developments, yet still face 

14           affordable housing needs.

15                  Also upstate has a high proportion of 

16           retired homeowners on fixed incomes, and ADUs 

17           can be an important lifeline that will allow 

18           them to stay in their homes.

19                  However, we do think that it is 

20           essential that all housing in New York is 

21           open to all New Yorkers, and currently under 

22           the Governor's budget proposal ADUs would be 

23           exempt, as has been mentioned, from state 

24           anti-discrimination protections through the 


 1           owner-occupied Mrs. Murphy exemption.  

 2           Meaning people could still be denied due to 

 3           disability, religion and other protected 

 4           bases.

 5                  We ask that ADU legalization include 

 6           fair housing protections so that New Yorkers 

 7           who are already facing limited opportunity 

 8           and housing options are not shut out of these 

 9           new opportunities.

10                  And then second I'd like to comment on 

11           the proposed expansion of the state's fair 

12           housing testing program.  We were thrilled to 

13           see dedicated funding in the budget for a 

14           fair housing testing program.  Over the past 

15           two years the six private fair housing 

16           organizations in New York, of which we are 

17           one of, have been working on a pilot program, 

18           the EBHNY program, that's been funded through 

19           the Attorney General's office.  And it's 

20           allowed us to expand our service area and 

21           increase staff, and gave us the capacity to 

22           investigate state-protected classes like 

23           source of income that our HUD funding hadn't 

24           previously allowed.  


 1                  And so we do -- are excited to see 

 2           continued funding for fair housing testing.  

 3           We do ask that the amount of funding be 

 4           increased from $2 million to $3 million to 

 5           help us maintain capacity that we've built 

 6           under the EBHNY program.  And we'd also like 

 7           to see sustained funding for fair housing 

 8           testing so we can maintain the capacity we've 

 9           built to do this work.

10                  Lastly, just briefly, I'd like to 

11           mention our support for both Good Cause 

12           Eviction and the state right to counsel bill 

13           as well.  

14                  Thank you for your time today.

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

16                  Next, Westchester Residential 

17           Opportunities, Inc.

18                  MS. ZARFES:  Good evening.  I'm 

19           Marlene Zarfes.  I'm the executive director 

20           of Westchester Residential Opportunities, 

21           also known as WRO.

22                  WRO is a HUD-certified housing 

23           counseling agency, and we're also one of only 

24           six qualified fair housing organizations 


 1           throughout New York State.  We were founded 

 2           over 50 years ago, and our mission is to 

 3           promote equal, affordable and accessible 

 4           housing for all residents of our region.  Our 

 5           region includes Westchester, but has now 

 6           expanded to the Lower Hudson Valley.

 7                  Given our mission, we're strong 

 8           supporters of legalizing accessory dwelling 

 9           units, or ADUs, throughout the state.  We've 

10           been working as part of a coalition in 

11           support of the Harckham-Epstein bill 

12           legalizing ADUs with some of the people who 

13           you've already heard from this evening.

14                  We appreciate the Governor's proposed 

15           Accessory Dwelling Unit Act to promote the 

16           creation of ADUs.  In fact, the Governor's 

17           proposal is quite similar to the bill that 

18           we've been supporting.  

19                  However, there's a defect in the act 

20           as proposed that would allow perpetuation of 

21           discrimination.  This defect can be easily 

22           remedied.  As written, the owner of an ADU 

23           created under this legislation would be 

24           allowed to refuse to rent or sell or offer 


 1           different terms and conditions in renting the 

 2           ADU based on any New York State protected 

 3           class.

 4                  So if I own an ADU, I can refuse to 

 5           sell, rent or lease or I can offer different 

 6           terms or conditions to someone because maybe 

 7           they have children or because they're 

 8           disabled, or based on their national origin 

 9           or their race.  This is known as the 

10           Mrs. Murphy exemption to the Human Rights 

11           Law, and essentially this is legalized 

12           discrimination.  

13                  It's WRO's position that ADUs must be 

14           explicitly excluded from such legalized 

15           discrimination.  The defect can be remedied 

16           simply by amending the act to provide that 

17           ADUs created under the act will not be 

18           subject to the Mrs. Murphy exemption.

19                  So we strongly urge the change in the 

20           legislative text so the benefit to be 

21           realized by promoting ADUs and the 

22           anticipated increase in affordable housing 

23           will not be limited by discrimination.

24                  Thank you all for your attention and 


 1           the opportunity to show our support for the 

 2           Governor's proposal to promote ADUs with the 

 3           slight change in text that will prevent 

 4           discrimination under the act.

 5                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

 6                  And now we go to Cypress Hills Local 

 7           Development Corporation, Ryan Chavez.

 8                  MR. CHAVEZ:  Well, good evening, 

 9           committee chairs and members.  Thank you so 

10           much for the opportunity to speak today.  

11                  My name is Ryan Chavez, director of 

12           the basement apartment conversion pilot 

13           program at Cypress Hills Local Development 

14           Corporation.  Founded in 1983, CHLDC is a 

15           nonprofit community development organization 

16           and settlement house based in East New York, 

17           Brooklyn.  

18                  I am here to speak in support of the 

19           2022 Executive Budget as it relates to 

20           accessory dwelling units.  Three years ago 

21           New York City, in partnership with CHLDC, 

22           launched the East New York Basement 

23           Conversion Pilot Program, which aimed to 

24           provide small homeowners in East New York 


 1           with financial and technical assistance to 

 2           convert their basements into safe and 

 3           affordable rental units.

 4                  We'd like to take a moment just to 

 5           thank Assemblymember Epstein in his former 

 6           role at the Urban Justice Center, for his 

 7           efforts in supporting and convincing the city 

 8           that a pilot program was in fact feasible.

 9                  Basement legalization has been 

10           embraced overwhelmingly by the East New York 

11           community as a strategy to both preserve 

12           homeownership and create much-needed 

13           affordable housing.  And the hope was that 

14           this pilot could help identify challenges and 

15           workarounds when it came to accessory 

16           dwelling unit creations, and lay the 

17           foundation for a citywide basement conversion 

18           program.  

19                  Through our ongoing work in East New 

20           York we've identified three key challenges in 

21           implementation that this state policy would 

22           directly alleviate.  First, parking 

23           requirements.  Roughly a quarter of 

24           properties assessed in the pilot were deemed 


 1           ineligible, due to their inability to 

 2           accommodate additional off-street parking.  

 3           As such, we fully support this policy's 

 4           prohibition of parking requirements for 

 5           certain ADUs.

 6                  Second, ceiling height.  Most 

 7           properties assessed in East New York did not 

 8           meet the 7-foot-6 ceiling height requirement.  

 9           To achieve this minimum height would require 

10           excavation, which is both expensive and 

11           risky.  For that reason, we fully support the 

12           establishment of a 7-foot ceiling height 

13           minimum.  

14                  Third, the Multiple Dwelling Law.  The 

15           MDL is a state-level law imposing rigorous 

16           housing standards on New York City 

17           residential properties with three or more 

18           units.  So for a two-family home looking to 

19           add a basement unit, for instance, this would 

20           reclassify them as a multiple dwelling, 

21           forcing them to comply with the new 

22           regulations, often so onerous as to render 

23           the conversion impossible.

24                  As such, we support the requirement 


 1           that properties participating in a New York 

 2           City ADU amnesty program be exempt from the 

 3           MDL.  

 4                  That said, it is concerning that this 

 5           MDL exemption is limited only to such an 

 6           amnesty program.  In practice, this opens the 

 7           door to formalizing existing ADUs but keeps 

 8           the door closed on new ADU creation.  We 

 9           strongly believe this MDL exemption must be 

10           extended to include all two-family properties 

11           in New York City, whether they have an ADU 

12           now or hope to develop one in the future.

13                  For these reasons I reiterate our 

14           organization's support for including ADU 

15           policy in the Executive Budget, and thank you 

16           once again for the opportunity.

17                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Next we hear 

18           from the Building and Realty Institute of 

19           Westchester.

20                  MR. FOLEY:  Thank you, and good 

21           evening.  My name is Tim Foley, and I'm the 

22           CEO of the Building and Realty Institute of 

23           Westchester.  

24                  I want to express my appreciation to 


 1           the chairs and to the hearty souls within the 

 2           Legislature for continuing to remain engaged 

 3           at this late hour on these important issues.

 4                  We submitted much longer written 

 5           testimony on the provisions in the Executive 

 6           Budget dealing with transit-oriented 

 7           development and accessory dwelling units, so 

 8           I'll just quickly summarize.

 9                  Some members of the Legislature may 

10           mistakenly assume that these proposals would 

11           be deeply unpopular and rejected by the 

12           suburban communities that would be most 

13           affected, but I'm here to tell you it's not 

14           true.  Many of us in fact want them within 

15           our hometowns.  Why?  Well, study after study 

16           shows that allowing for walkable, mixed-use 

17           and multifamily housing close to public 

18           transit greatly assists us in reducing our 

19           carbon footprint and revitalizing our local 

20           downtown areas.  It boosts our local economy 

21           and is a potential game-changer for young 

22           people and families who now work in 

23           Westchester but have trouble finding housing 

24           in their price range.  


 1                  It leads to less dependence on cars, 

 2           more use of public transit, more walkable and 

 3           revitalized downtown centers, more 

 4           educational opportunities for children, and 

 5           provides a reliable source of funding and 

 6           ridership to the Metro-North Railroad that so 

 7           many Westchester residents rely on.  

 8                  Let me take a moment to say what these 

 9           policies would not do.  They would not end 

10           single-family zoning.  The house next to 

11           Grandma's won't be replaced by a 10-story 

12           apartment building.  They would neither 

13           dramatically alter the demand nor the supply 

14           of single detached homes, bulky McMansions, 

15           or mid-to-high-rise multistory apartment 

16           buildings.

17                  These proposals to allow for ADUs and 

18           the building of 25 units per acre within a 

19           10-minute walk of transit stations would be 

20           most likely to yield a mixture of duplexes, 

21           triplexes, townhouses, bungalow courtyards 

22           and other in-context homes of all shapes and 

23           sizes that would be the same approximate 

24           height and scale as existing housing within 


 1           these neighborhoods.

 2                  These are also not foreign to suburban 

 3           New York communities today.  I personally 

 4           live within half a mile of the Scarsdale 

 5           Metro-North Station.  When my wife or I used 

 6           to commute to New York City, on our 10-minute 

 7           walk home we would pass by a small downtown 

 8           area with shops, some of which have small 

 9           apartments above them, we would pass by 

10           senior-restricted housing, we'd pass by some 

11           townhouse-style condominiums and a four-story 

12           apartment building.  And about two blocks 

13           away from us is a single detached house with 

14           an in-law suite -- in other words, an 

15           accessory dwelling unit.  

16                  So let me say this again:  I live in 

17           Scarsdale.  My property values have not at 

18           all declined by the close proximity of these 

19           homes with different shapes and sizes to 

20           mine.  Nor is the school district any less 

21           desirable.  And communities within 

22           Westchester that have passed ADU ordinances 

23           have not seen their populations explode 

24           overnight.


 1                  In conclusion, we believe that not 

 2           only is state action warranted on these 

 3           proposals, it's long past overdue.  

 4                  Thank you.

 5                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

 6                  We do have a number of questions for 

 7           this panel, and we'll start with 

 8           Assemblyman Ra, ranker on Ways and Means.  

 9                  ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Thank you, Chair.

10                  Just with regard to the accessory 

11           dwelling units, we've heard a lot about this 

12           today and, look, I -- you know, I get the 

13           advocacy behind it.  But, you know, I do take 

14           exception to some of what was said with 

15           regard to -- that it does preserve plenty of 

16           local zoning.  I mean, basically what it says 

17           is you can make certain requirements, and 

18           then goes through all the restrictions that 

19           are on the local government with regard to 

20           all of those different requirements.

21                  You know, and particularly when you 

22           get into lot coverage, you know, where I am 

23           in Western Nassau County, these are very 

24           small lots.  


 1                  So I do have a lot of concerns with 

 2           this proposal, and frankly I've heard a lot 

 3           from my local governments, already very 

 4           concerned with these proposals.  So I'm just 

 5           wondering, you know, if somebody wants to 

 6           enlighten me as to what you really think that 

 7           we're still allowing local governments to do 

 8           with regard to this.  I mean, we've seen a 

 9           lot with the transit development -- 

10           transit-oriented development on Long Island, 

11           our villages have put up, you know, a lot of 

12           little zones around train stations, it's 

13           worked out well.

14                  But, you know, I have a problem with 

15           the state coming in and completely, you know, 

16           putting handcuffs on the local government 

17           when it comes to local zoning.

18                  I guess that wasn't really a question 

19           but, you know, I think --

20                  (Laughter.)

21                  ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  I have great, great 

22           concerns with this proposal.  And I think if 

23           we think it's going to be so popular with the 

24           local governments, then, you know, put some 


 1           type of opt-out or something.  And if it's so 

 2           popular with the local governments, their 

 3           residents will be clamoring for them to opt 

 4           in to the proposal.

 5                  So I guess I don't really have a 

 6           question, but I do appreciate everybody's, 

 7           you know, insights from their experiences in 

 8           different parts of the state.

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

10           Assemblyman.  We'll send it to the Senate.

11                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

12                  Senator Pete Harckham.

13                  SENATOR HARCKHAM:  Thank you, 

14           Madam Chair.  And thank you to everybody who 

15           testified, and thank you all for your 

16           collaboration on the bill.

17                  I just want to comment on the prior 

18           speaker.  The build-out that someone is 

19           allowed in this bill is only to the allowable 

20           building envelope.  So it's no additional 

21           build-out.  So if you're allowed to build out 

22           3,000 feet and you're at 3,000 feet, you 

23           can't build out anymore.  It has to be within 

24           that footprint.


 1                  So the notion that this is going to 

 2           expand footprints is from the prior version.  

 3           And that's what I was referring to on the 

 4           last panel; there's a lot of misinformation 

 5           about this bill from the last bill.

 6                  So I turn to Casey.  And Casey, I 

 7           thank you for, you know, keeping all the 

 8           balls in the air on this.  Maybe you could 

 9           take us through what some of those changes we 

10           made at the request of local governments from 

11           suburban and rural areas.

12                  MR. BERKOVITZ:  Sure, I would be happy 

13           to.  And thank you again for all of your work 

14           with us as advocates and stakeholders to make 

15           these changes.  And I know you've certainly 

16           heard from plenty of local governments in 

17           your district along the way.

18                  The biggest change you mentioned, 

19           which is that localities are allowed to limit 

20           accessory homes to the allowable envelope, in 

21           addition to some of the kind of more 

22           number-based dimensional stuff.

23                  There's also homeowner occupancy, that 

24           there was a change made so that local 


 1           governments can craft their own homeowner 

 2           occupancy rules, whether that's requiring 

 3           that a homeowner lives in the primary or the 

 4           accessory unit, whether they choose not to 

 5           require that, whether they put a length of 

 6           time requirement on it, that sort of thing.

 7                  And then, similarly, this is not quite 

 8           flexibility on the local side, but some of 

 9           the changes regarding kind of how this all is 

10           enforced, changed both between the 

11           Legislature's versions and then the Executive 

12           Budget as well, that the kind of enforcement 

13           and legal mechanism for noncompliance 

14           changed, and I think is probably slightly 

15           more amenable to local governments.

16                  I would be happy to share a full 

17           rundown of all of these changes with any of 

18           your offices if you're interested.  I don't 

19           want to take up too much time here.

20                  SENATOR HARCKHAM:  Thank you, Casey.

21                  In my last 40 seconds I would also 

22           point out one of the other limitations, the 

23           natural limitation, has to do with county 

24           health departments and septics, which many of 


 1           the suburban and rural are.  It's based on 

 2           bedroom count.  So if you're already at your 

 3           maximum bedroom count, this bill will not 

 4           overrule the county health department as far 

 5           as what you can do with that septic system.

 6                  So we've added a lot of protections 

 7           for local governments based on what they 

 8           requested.  And again, I would just urge 

 9           colleagues from both sides of the aisle to 

10           please read the A print that was submitted by 

11           Assemblyman Epstein and myself in December.  

12           It's much, much different than the version 

13           from a year ago.

14                  Thank you.

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

16           Senator.

17                  We go to Assemblyman Epstein.

18                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thank you, 

19           Chair.  And I want to thank the panelists for 

20           all your work to get us here.

21                  And Tim, it's good to see you back.  

22           I'm sure you missed being on this side of the 

23           Assembly.

24                  So tell me why a suburban builders 


 1           association would be supporting this.  What's 

 2           the logic to it, and how did you get there?

 3                  MR. FOLEY:  Well, so in 2019 

 4           Westchester County released a housing needs 

 5           assessment which was very much, in our minds, 

 6           a call to arms, because it really painted in 

 7           stark relief exactly how bad the housing 

 8           shortage is here in Westchester County.  It's 

 9           similar in many other counties within the 

10           greater New York City area.

11                  But it found that we needed at least 

12           11,703 new units of housing just to meet 

13           present-day demand in 2019.  And one of the 

14           areas that the housing needs assessment 

15           specifically pointed to as being an easy step 

16           to start to fill some of the gap was 

17           accessory dwelling units.

18                  We represent homebuilders, we 

19           represent remodelers.  There was a natural 

20           link-up and a natural interest because many 

21           of them have expressed some frustration with 

22           where a homeowner, for the sake of their 

23           property and their own financial situation, 

24           would like to see an ADU built within their 


 1           property -- maybe it's a retired couple, 

 2           maybe it's someone who's looking for some 

 3           extra income -- but found that the process of 

 4           dealing with their local municipality was 

 5           very, very cumbersome for something that 

 6           would not dramatically affect their 

 7           neighbors.

 8                  And so it was a natural fit for us to 

 9           engage in advocacy on this issue.

10                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  And so -- and 

11           Marlene, just to talk more about where the 

12           Westchester Residential Opportunities 

13           association comes from, so why Westchester?  

14           Why is this something you're putting your 

15           time and energy on at 9:30 on a Monday night, 

16           and why does it matter?

17                  MS. ZARFES:  Basically what Tim just 

18           said.  I mean, that housing needs assessment 

19           really woke everybody up.  To need more than 

20           11,000 units back in '19 -- we needed to do 

21           something.  And that was one of the 

22           recommendations in that report.

23                  So, I mean, we see all the time that 

24           there's not enough inventory, and we just 


 1           strongly believe that ADUs are going to help 

 2           a great deal.  And as long as we have that 

 3           Mrs. Murphy exemption in there, we think it 

 4           will be really helpful to Westchester and the 

 5           rest of our community.

 6                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thanks.  I know 

 7           I'm almost out of time.  

 8                  Casey, what can you do to help just 

 9           give information to people who have questions 

10           or a way for them to outreach to you, to 

11           follow up?  Just because, you know, obviously 

12           as Senator Harckham just said, there's an 

13           A version, there's a lot of changes.  And I 

14           know we don't have a lot of time to talk 

15           through this.

16                  MR. BERKOVITZ:  Absolutely.  Well, the 

17           easiest is email,  

18           Happy to -- I have a written document that 

19           has a comparison of all these versions I'd be 

20           happy to share.  Same, feel free to reach out 

21           to Senator Harckham or Assemblymember 

22           Epstein's offices, and they're happy to put 

23           me in touch as well.  And similarly happy to 

24           answer any questions about any of the kind of 


 1           minutiae of the details of the bill.

 2                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thank you, 

 3           Chair.  I see my time has elapsed.

 4                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 5                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Can I pass it to 

 6           the Senate?  

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  The Senate, 

 8           yes.

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Great.  Julia 

10           Salazar has been waiting patiently.

11                  SENATOR SALAZAR:  Thank you, Chair.  

12                  I actually just have a question for 

13           Ryan.  So I am not a property owner, but I am 

14           currently sitting above an ADU in East 

15           New York.  So your testimony and your work 

16           hit close to home for me.

17                  I wanted to ask you, are there 

18           specific lessons that -- maybe observations 

19           about barriers that you have seen in the 

20           success of -- or limited success of the pilot 

21           program in East New York that you've taken 

22           away from the work that you've done that you 

23           should share with us that hopefully could 

24           inform a state ADU proposal?


 1                  MR. CHAVEZ:  Absolutely.  Thank you, 

 2           Senator, for the question.  

 3                  I mean, I'll first begin by saying 

 4           that the interest in this program was 

 5           absolutely overwhelming in East New York.  We 

 6           had people lining up around the block when 

 7           this program was first launched.

 8                  I will say that the most -- you know, 

 9           the most significant barriers that we came up 

10           against are really these technical sort of 

11           physical barriers that are sort of built into 

12           the minutiae of codes and regulations.  Just 

13           things that make it much tougher for 

14           homeowners to actually get the approvals or 

15           to get a plan for conversion that is 

16           cost-feasible.  Right?  

17                  So I mean on one hand we certainly 

18           need financial assistance to help low- and 

19           moderate-income homeowners to cover the cost 

20           of conversion, but we also need the 

21           flexibility in the codes and regulations to 

22           keep costs down.  So things like parking 

23           requirements, things like the Multiple 

24           Dwelling Law, things like ceiling heights -- 


 1           these are things that either get in the way 

 2           of homeowners actually participating or just 

 3           drive the cost beyond anything that an 

 4           everyday homeowner in a place like 

 5           East New York can afford.

 6                  So the demand is there, the interest 

 7           is there beyond any doubt.  It's really the 

 8           devil is in the details in terms of designing 

 9           a program in such a way that it makes it 

10           accessible to homeowners, both in terms of 

11           the financial resources but also 

12           cost-effective in terms of driving down that 

13           cost of conversion.

14                  SENATOR SALAZAR:  Thank you, Ryan.

15                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.

16                  Assembly?

17                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes, we still 

18           have two Assemblymembers.  So we'll start 

19           first with Anna Kelles and then Chris 

20           Burdick.

21                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN KELLES:  Thank you all 

22           so much for these testimonials.  Some really 

23           important things have been brought up.  I 

24           just wanted to add a couple of things and 


 1           thoughts I have, and then some questions.  

 2                  I wanted to elevate one thing that has 

 3           been brought up consistently about it being 

 4           extremely important for people on a fixed 

 5           income.  In fact, the AARP has some amazing 

 6           reports out on the benefit of ADUs, and there 

 7           have been some really interesting reports 

 8           also about the reduction in sprawl because of 

 9           allowing for ADUs.  

10                  But I think, you know, the most 

11           important thing that I've seen in the 

12           research is that the ADUs allow for the 

13           small-scale infill so that affordable housing 

14           isn't happening exclusively by the 

15           large-scale developers with high amounts of 

16           cement and steel, which have huge GHG 

17           emissions.  And these are built more out of 

18           wood products, for example, which is actually 

19           a carbon sink.  So the environmental impact 

20           is significantly different.

21                  So I just wanted to add those pieces 

22           to what I'm hearing here today.

23                  And the one question that I did have 

24           actually was for Sally.  I think you also 


 1           represent my district area.  And what has 

 2           been -- what have been the main barriers that 

 3           you've seen in our area, which is Central 

 4           New York, to allowing for and supporting and 

 5           promoting ADUs.

 6                  MS. SANTANGELO:  I think it's 

 7           important to note first that opposition by 

 8           local governments does not mean opposition by 

 9           residents.  I think, you know, most people -- 

10           this isn't really something that they've 

11           really thought through that much, but I think 

12           there's -- I think a lot of fear, unfounded 

13           fear that it's -- you know, that it's going 

14           to mean a complete loss of local control.  

15                  And, you know, we do see -- you know, 

16           we still see a lot of housing opposed for a 

17           lot of the same kind of historic reasons that 

18           we have, the idea of a threat to neighborhood 

19           character.  And I think ADUs are no different 

20           than that same idea.  But most of the housing 

21           opposition, the opposition we see to the 

22           construction of affordable housing in 

23           neighborhoods or the loosening of zoning 

24           still often is about the type of people that 


 1           will move into the area.  That's the reality.  

 2           That's what most of the comments end up 

 3           coming down to being about.

 4                  ASSEMBLYWOMAN KELLES:  I find it 

 5           really interesting because the opposition, 

 6           the people who oppose this bill are often 

 7           talking about a decline in the New York State 

 8           population, and yet the people who are 

 9           leaving are, you know, younger professionals 

10           who cannot afford the property taxes.  And 

11           this allows for infill and it allows for a 

12           form of income that would allow them to be 

13           homeowners, really countering the very issue.

14                  So it's kind of counterintuitive to 

15           oppose -- both want, you know, to counter the 

16           decline in population and then oppose this 

17           legislation at the same time.

18                  So thank you so much.  That was very 

19           helpful.

20                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

21                  Assemblyman Burdick.

22                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Thank you.  

23                  And thank you, panelists, for your 

24           perseverance.  And I have a question that I 


 1           think would be posed to both Casey Berkowitz 

 2           as well as Timothy Foley.  

 3                  And -- well, first to Casey Berkowitz, 

 4           I would be very interested in seeing the 

 5           comparison that you've done on the various 

 6           versions.  I am in a district -- actually, 

 7           part of Westchester County -- in which quite 

 8           a few of the municipalities in Westchester 

 9           County in fact have adopted quite some time 

10           ago, including my hometown of Bedford, 

11           accessory use laws that have been successful 

12           and been in place.  And I think that one of 

13           the concerns is that this would preempt those 

14           and could invalidate them.

15                  And I would like to see whether you 

16           and other advocates may be amenable to 

17           grandfathering those existing ADU laws, which 

18           at least in Westchester County have passed 

19           muster with a federal monitor to a housing 

20           settlement agreement which I'm sure that you 

21           are familiar with.

22                  And I have heard from many of my 

23           municipal governments that said, you know, we 

24           have these laws and, you know, we don't see 


 1           the purpose in upending them.  And I'd like 

 2           you to speak to that, if you would.

 3                  And I don't know, Timothy, whether 

 4           you're familiar with that too, but I think 

 5           that it could go a long way, at least in 

 6           Westchester County, if those were to be 

 7           grandfathered.  Because they work.

 8                  MR. BERKOVITZ:  Sure.  Well, first of 

 9           all, thank you for your patience as well.  

10           You've been here quite a long time as well, 

11           I'm sure.

12                  I will say if they are working -- and 

13           I'm not intimately familiar with the details 

14           of all of them -- they wouldn't be turned 

15           over, you know, if they fit the broad 

16           parameters laid out in --

17                  ASSEMBLYMAN BURDICK:  Yeah, I'm sorry 

18           to interrupt you.  I don't have much time.

19                  The problem is that you have no way of 

20           vetting that.  There's no mechanism by which 

21           it states that this passes muster.  Instead, 

22           there could be litigation, there could be -- 

23           having come out of local government, that 

24           they have to turn this over to their 


 1           attorneys:  Does this work, does this not?  

 2           You know, resulting in public hearings and 

 3           expense.  

 4                  I just think that you really ought to 

 5           give some consideration on how it could be 

 6           streamlined and how there could be a way in 

 7           which they could say:  Yours works, and 

 8           that's set.  Rather than having them go 

 9           through that expense and what could be, you 

10           know, difficult mechanics of it in their 

11           municipalities.

12                  MR. BERKOVITZ:  So the bill in the 

13           Legislature includes a process like that 

14           through DHCR for approval of local 

15           ordinances.  I can't speak for the 

16           Executive Chamber, but that language is 

17           available if that's what you'd like to use.

18                  MR. FOLEY:  And if I could chime in as 

19           well, the Epstein-Harckham bill -- I mean, 

20           that's exactly why that provision is there, 

21           so that existing ordinances can be reviewed 

22           and told whether they pass muster or not.  

23                  Casey is right, that provision is not 

24           currently in the Executive Budget.  But 


 1           obviously, you know, most of the folks who 

 2           have spoken in support of ADUs have spoken in 

 3           support of that bill within the Legislature, 

 4           and we would certainly be in favor of it 

 5           being added back in.

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  I 

 7           want to thank -- we have no more --   

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Actually, I'm 

 9           sorry, I do have two questions, Helene.

10                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Oh, I'm sorry, 

11           go ahead, Senator.

12                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  That's okay.  Hi.  

13           I've been trying to just quietly listen to 

14           everyone.  And my friends Harvey and Pete 

15           will tell me later:  Just ask us, don't 

16           interrupt the flow.  

17                  But for I think both Casey and Ryan, 

18           my concern is around the language or what it 

19           needs to be to protect people in multifamily 

20           dwellings.  Because the stories I hear are 

21           the concerns about basement units with one 

22           egress, carbon monoxide from the boilers, 

23           concerns about in some of the, again, wood -- 

24           what we call non-fire-proof houses that are 


 1           designed to be two-family but sometimes can 

 2           already be six-family, with faulty wiring 

 3           because it was never wired for six units.  

 4                  Just assure me that we're going to 

 5           make sure we've got the correct health and 

 6           safety standards in place that, even in 

 7           amnesty, you don't get a walk from those 

 8           issues.

 9                  MR. CHAVEZ:  Well, thank you, Senator.  

10           I can address maybe one or two of those 

11           points.  

12                  I think from our point of view, you 

13           know, we sort of see ourselves as at the 

14           vanguard of safety advocacy.  I mean, we're 

15           as much concerned around the safety of 

16           basement apartments as anybody else.  I think 

17           what such a policy, a statewide program like 

18           this would do would be to allow us to 

19           actually be able to sort of identify -- to 

20           those basement apartments that may not be 

21           habitable, right, and to identify those that 

22           are maybe just shy of habitable that just 

23           need a little bit of upgrade and retrofits to 

24           meet basic health and safety codes.  


 1                  So, you know, we are pro-safety.  We 

 2           want to identify those that are safe and 

 3           those that are not.

 4                  And to the question around, you know, 

 5           wood-frame properties, my understanding is 

 6           that a wood-frame property could never be a 

 7           legal multiple dwelling.  And I don't think 

 8           there's anything in the legislation either 

 9           put forward by the Legislature or the 

10           Governor's office that would change that.

11                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  So you were 

12           saying anything that's over two units is 

13           defined as multi-dwelling, and you want to 

14           allow them to at least go to three.  But 

15           there certainly are homes, one- and 

16           two-family homes in the five boroughs that 

17           are wood, not brick, that are already more 

18           units than that.

19                  So I'm just a little confused how 

20           those would be defined.

21                  MR. CHAVEZ:  Yeah.  My understanding 

22           is that wood-frame properties just by statute 

23           are -- you know, they're as of right not 

24           allowed to be multiple dwellings.  


 1                  Now, if there are existing properties, 

 2           right, that were built before the Multiple 

 3           Dwelling Law was established, you know, 

 4           that's one story.  But I don't think anything 

 5           that's being proposed in this policy under 

 6           discussion now would facilitate the creation 

 7           of wood-framed multiple dwellings.

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  So thank you for 

 9           that.

10                  So does that mean they would 

11           potentially be ADU-eligible but not a 

12           multifamily dwelling under the law?  Just 

13           clarify for me.

14                  MR. CHAVEZ:  Sure.

15                  So, I mean, when I advocate for 

16           exemptions from the Multiple Dwelling Law for 

17           two-family properties, that is separate and 

18           aside from the question of wood frame.

19                  I mean, under existing law wood 

20           frames, you know, would not be -- would not 

21           be exempt under that law.  That same 

22           regulation would still apply.

23                  But there are plenty of, you know, 

24           brick -- you know, masonry two-family homes 


 1           that as of now cannot add a third unit 

 2           without having to comply with the rest of the 

 3           Multiple Dwelling Law, which is very, very 

 4           onerous.

 5                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Got it.  Thank 

 6           you very much.

 7                  Thank you, Helene Weinstein.

 8                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Okay.  So we 

 9           are going to move on to our last panel for 

10           today.  This is Panel H, if you're keeping 

11           score.  New York State Public Housing 

12           Authorities Directors Association, Bill 

13           Simmons, president; Cooper Square Committee, 

14           Elda Luisi, tenant; Housing Conservation 

15           Coordinators, Elise Levy, tenant organizer  

16           and advocate; Affordable Housing Leaders 

17           Group/Housing Conservation Coordinators, 

18           Christine Hughes, tenant leader.  

19                  So if we can have those panelists here 

20           and go on and speak in that order, starting 

21           with Bill Simmons.

22                  MR. SIMMONS:  Good evening, everyone, 

23           and thank you for the opportunity to present.  

24           My name is Bill Simmons, president of the 


 1           New York State Public Housing Authorities 

 2           Executive Directors Association, and the 

 3           executive director for the Syracuse Housing 

 4           Authority.

 5                  It's a pleasure for NYSPHADA to be 

 6           back before you, before the committee, and 

 7           thank you, the Legislature, for all of your 

 8           support.

 9                  As you know, for the past several 

10           years NYSPHADA has been advocating for more 

11           funding for New York State public housing 

12           authorities throughout the Division of 

13           Housing and Community Renewal.  And we are 

14           very grateful to the state for all the 

15           assistance that the state has provided over 

16           the last two years.

17                  Last year the Legislature set aside 

18           $125 million for public housing authorities 

19           in upstate New York, and this afforded many 

20           housing authorities the opportunity to 

21           modernize their facilities.

22                  Over the last two years NYSPHADA  

23           members have accessed roughly $200 million to 

24           help close deals for our members, including 


 1           several rental assistance demonstration 

 2           programs and others.  

 3                  Governor Kathy Hochul has set aside 

 4           approximately $150 million for public housing 

 5           authorities outside of New York City, and we 

 6           respectfully ask the Legislature and the 

 7           Executive for $200,000 {sic}.  

 8                  We are also here today to ask for help 

 9           for our state public housing authorities.  

10           Mr. Chairman, as you know, we requested in 

11           last year's budget that the state set aside 

12           $554,000 for state-run public housing 

13           authorities that never received COVID relief 

14           funding.  Mr. Chairman, we appreciate your 

15           and Senator Kavanagh's support for this 

16           effort, and we again ask that you include 

17           this in the upcoming budget.  

18                  Finally, we ask the Legislature to 

19           prioritize public housing authorities in the 

20           Emergency Rental Assistance funding.  As you 

21           know, state law -- Senate Bill 2506 and 

22           Assembly Bill 3006 currently single out 

23           public housing authorities as last in line 

24           for eligible funding.  We ask that the 


 1           Legislature amend this bill to remove such 

 2           language and provide public housing 

 3           authorities with the ability to apply for 

 4           this much needed funding in a timely and 

 5           efficient manner.

 6                  I am honored to represent NYSPHADA 

 7           today and look forward to answering any 

 8           questions that the committees may have.

 9                  Thank you.

10                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

11                  Next, Cooper Square Committee.

12                  THE MODERATOR:  They will be 

13           submitting written testimony.

14                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Okay.  Thank 

15           you.

16                  So now we go to -- actually, I believe 

17           we probably have -- the Cooper Square 

18           Committee's testimony was circulated earlier 

19           to members.  

20                  Housing Conservation Coordinators, 

21           Elise Levy.

22                  MS. LEVY:  Hi, good evening, and thank 

23           you for having me.  My name is Elise Levy, 

24           and I'm a tenant organizer and advocate with 


 1           Housing Conservation Coordinators.  

 2                  In our catchment area, which is 

 3           Manhattan's West Side, we have a really high 

 4           concentration of 421-a units, so our 

 5           neighborhood is essentially a case study in 

 6           the remarkable failure of this program.  

 7                  In our work with residents of the 

 8           affordable housing units in these buildings, 

 9           we see the same issues repeated over and 

10           over.  Tenants are experiencing unequal 

11           treatment, receiving misinformation, and 

12           being harassed.

13                  An extremely common issue that we see 

14           is tenants receiving misleading lease riders 

15           that lead them to believe that their 

16           protections are expiring, which causes people 

17           to self-evict.  So we're urging the 

18           Legislature to pass legislation that will 

19           fine landlords for providing such 

20           misinformation.

21                  And we also ask that all existing 

22           affordable 421-a units remain rent-stabilized 

23           in perpetuity.  If the Legislature does not 

24           take action, we expect to see thousands of 


 1           tenants self-evicting or being forced to move 

 2           out just over the next few years as these 

 3           programs continue to expire, particularly in 

 4           our neighborhood.  So we need real, 

 5           permanent, affordable housing where people do 

 6           not have to worry if their affordability of 

 7           their unit is going to expire.

 8                  Further, we ask for an end to this 

 9           program as a whole.  There's no reason to 

10           renew 421-a or to replace it with a program 

11           that is 421-a by another name.  It's simply a 

12           handout to developers.  So we really need to 

13           be investing in real, permanent, affordable 

14           housing instead of wasting billions of 

15           dollars on a program that primarily benefits 

16           landlords.  

17                  So we demand that this legislative 

18           reform to the program -- we demand 

19           legislative reforms to the program to protect 

20           existing tenants and to not renew the program 

21           moving forward.  And further, we ask that the 

22           Legislature pass Good Cause Eviction to keep 

23           the housing we have affordable and allow 

24           people to remain in their homes.


 1                  Thank you.

 2                  (Pause.)

 3                  SENATOR JACKSON:  Chair Weinstein?

 4                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Is she not 

 5           here?  Is Christine here?  Oh, okay, yes.

 6                  MS. HUGHES:  I think you were muted.  

 7           Okay.  Hi, thank you so much.  Last but not 

 8           least.  

 9                  Hi, I'm Christine Hughes, and I'm a 

10           tenant.  I'm a 421-a tenant at West 54th 

11           Street and 8th Avenue.  I also have a 

12           progressive illness.  I'm disabled and 

13           housebound, and I'm in my hospital bed at 

14           home right now.  

15                  And certainly a home is everything to 

16           me, and I feel for every person I've heard 

17           testify all day here.  I'm so grateful for 

18           your time and to be heard.  

19                  Let's see.  I just want to talk about 

20           a few experiences I've had as a 421-a tenant, 

21           such as eviction threats for years.  And then 

22           I decided I'll pay six-month rent chunks at a 

23           time.  It still takes me 30 to 40 days to get 

24           my landlord to even deposit my rent check.  I 


 1           often have to get legal help to do that.

 2                  There's a constant turnover of staff, 

 3           so no one is accountable.  When the 421-a 

 4           tenants first moved into this building, we 

 5           were treated wonderfully.  And as time goes 

 6           on, not so.

 7                  Also -- I have notes here -- losing 

 8           our private documents.  At one point the 

 9           landlord lost all of our 421-a private 

10           documents and then suddenly hired an outside 

11           agency to do the annual recertification and 

12           actually had the nerve to ask us to resubmit 

13           all the documents he had lost.

14                  So finally receiving -- as Elise just 

15           said from HCC, receiving misleading, false 

16           renewal leases stating that at my expiration 

17           date I would be charged full market value.  

18           The panic you can imagine, my being seriously 

19           ill.  

20                  And I guess what I'm here for is I'm 

21           hoping to get your support for a bill that we 

22           tried to pass like a year or two ago, 

23           Bill A641/S76, and it's to make passing off 

24           illegal, misleading -- well, misleading lease 


 1           riders illegal.

 2                  And there's another bill that I'm just 

 3           as interested in, that's A8899, and what that 

 4           does is it protects all 421-a tenants.  

 5           Because this is the time for 421-a and 421-a 

 6           tenants.  And if we must renew this program  

 7           that feels grossly unfair as far as housing 

 8           justice for all, could we at least protect 

 9           its tenants?  

10                  And I am humbly grateful to be heard 

11           today and to hear all of the stories.  I've 

12           been listening all day.  I feel really 

13           grateful to have such wonderful New York 

14           reps.  And thank you for your time.

15                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

16           being our last witness.

17                  We do have some questions of the 

18           panel, so we'll start with Assemblyman Harvey 

19           Epstein.

20                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thank you, 

21           Chair.  

22                  And to you, Elise Levy, I just wanted 

23           to hear the volume of expiring leases for 

24           421-a you're seeing.  And, you know, what's 


 1           happening for those tenants who are in those 

 2           expiring buildings?  

 3                  And then, you know, thinking through 

 4           what the solutions might be, I do think what 

 5           Ms. Hughes was talking about, we need to 

 6           figure out a way to protect those tenants who 

 7           are in their home.

 8                  MS. LEVY:  Yeah.  I don't know an 

 9           exact number off the top of my head, and I 

10           don't want to say one that's not accurate, 

11           but I do believe it to be in the thousands.  

12                  And what we are seeing is, you know, 

13           folks leaving when they get notices saying 

14           that their affordability is going to expire.  

15           Which, you know, for some folks they may be 

16           losing stabilization.  For others, they 

17           actually may not.  And there's just a real -- 

18           real lack of clarity.  You know, if you go 

19           for a different agency, you might hear a 

20           different thing than another agency.  

21                  So it's very confusing for tenants.  

22           It's very confusing for everyone, frankly.  

23           And so we see, you know, a lot of folks who 

24           say they were going to self-evict before they 


 1           came to us.  If they're not coming to us or 

 2           another neighborhood organization, I assume 

 3           that they are self-evicting.  

 4                  And, you know, unless we have some 

 5           sweeping legislation -- or not even sweeping, 

 6           just legislation that would stop 

 7           misinformation, it's hard to reach everyone.  

 8           Unless we kind of make sure that that 

 9           information is being disseminated in some 

10           kind of mass way.

11                  I think the other thing that would be 

12           really crucial is to actually ensure that all 

13           units that are affordable, that are in the 

14           affordable allotment, are stabilized in 

15           perpetuity.  That just kind of clarifies the 

16           issue.  If none of them are losing 

17           stabilization, then there's no question.

18                  And frankly, you know, we've put 

19           billions of dollars into this program, so we 

20           should be able to have permanent affordable 

21           housing from it.

22                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thank you very 

23           much.

24                  And Mr. Simmons, how much money, 


 1           capital, operating money do you need from the 

 2           state for the public housing authorities 

 3           across the state?

 4                  MR. SIMMONS:  Yeah, Assemblyman 

 5           Epstein, I'm glad you asked that question 

 6           because I needed to clarify.  I think I said 

 7           200,000, and it's 200 million.  We pretty 

 8           much used that much last time.

 9                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  And that's 

10           capital or that's operating?

11                  MR. SIMMONS:  For capital.

12                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  And how about 

13           operating funds?  Do you guys run an 

14           operating deficit?  I know in the city NYCHA 

15           has operating deficits, and I just wanted to 

16           make sure where we are statewide as well.

17                  MR. SIMMONS:  Well, yeah, we're 

18           running operating deficits especially since 

19           the eviction moratorium.  And that's why we 

20           often talk about making sure that public 

21           housing authorities are not at the bottom of 

22           the trough.  

23                  Many of us have run up a number of 

24           arrears.  And so if there's going to be 


 1           another allotment of ERAP dollars, we want to 

 2           make sure that we will be able to access 

 3           those dollars in a fair and equitable way.

 4                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 5           Thank you, Chair.

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 7           We're going to send it to the Senate.  

 8                  It actually looks like there's several 

 9           Senators, so why don't you --  

10                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Yes.  I see 

11           Senator Julia Salazar.

12                  SENATOR SALAZAR:  Thank you.  I 

13           actually -- I just have a question for 

14           Mr. Simmons, but I did want to say, you know, 

15           and I really appreciate your testimony, Elise 

16           and Christine as well.  Thank you for sharing 

17           your experiences with the failures and the 

18           abuses of the 421-a program.  It's really 

19           harrowing.

20                  But my question for Mr. Simmons.  My 

21           understanding is that HUD currently doesn't 

22           require and certainly the state doesn't 

23           require that housing authorities submit a 

24           physical needs assessment, even though, you 


 1           know, I personally think a physical needs 

 2           assessment at least periodically would really 

 3           help us in evaluating the scope of capital 

 4           repairs and the needs of public housing 

 5           across the state.

 6                  I just wanted to ask you, you know, 

 7           what do you think about the idea of having 

 8           housing authorities submit a physical needs 

 9           assessment in a reasonable -- you know, let's 

10           say every five years to the state, so that we 

11           could really understand and there would be 

12           some transparency in understanding what the 

13           financial needs are?

14                  MR. SIMMONS:  So just one information 

15           correction, Senator.  And that is HUD does 

16           require housing authorities to go through a 

17           physical inspection every year or every two 

18           years depending upon what your score was the 

19           previous year.  

20                  So if you scored 80 or above, you may 

21           not be inspected for another two years.  But 

22           if anywhere in the 70s and 60s were your 

23           standard, it would be every year.  And if you 

24           were below that, in failure, they would be on 


 1           your door with a corrective action plan.  

 2                  So the federal government does 

 3           require -- does conduct independent physical 

 4           inspections on all the properties.  We 

 5           haven't had any in the last two years because 

 6           there were a number of COVID waivers.  But 

 7           the federal government does inspect.

 8                  As we move towards the rental 

 9           assistance demonstration program, which uses 

10           quite a bit of the state and tax credit 

11           dollars, then HCR and the tax credit equity 

12           providers come in every year and do their 

13           physical audit to protect their interest.

14                  But the -- just for correction, HUD 

15           does require a physical inspection of every 

16           property at least once a year by independent 

17           inspectors.

18                  SENATOR SALAZAR:  I certainly 

19           understand that.  My question is actually 

20           more about a physical needs assessment.  So 

21           really just understanding the scope of 

22           capital repairs and improvements that the 

23           housing authorities feel that you need.  

24           Basically to -- so that we can understand 


 1           exactly what the needs are for the respective 

 2           housing authorities across the state.

 3                  MR. SIMMONS:  Yeah, so I think that 

 4           that's something that we could undertake for 

 5           all of our housing authorities.  

 6                  What tends to happen is that when a 

 7           housing authority -- one of the requirements, 

 8           when we started to approach the state for 

 9           dollars to preserve public housing, aides to 

10           the Department of Housing and Urban 

11           Renewal -- Urban Development -- HCR decided 

12           that -- they said, "Look, Bill, the housing 

13           authorities have to approach their properties 

14           in a holistic way, and you have to really get 

15           into this RAD program where you're maximizing 

16           your leverage to state dollars to address all 

17           your physical needs."  

18                  So what tends to happen, once -- based 

19           on that leveraging and that approach taken by 

20           HCR, when a housing authority decides that 

21           they're going to go into RAD and leverage the 

22           federal, state and private dollars, a 

23           physical inspection -- a physical needs is 

24           required at that time.


 1                  And so you have that physical needs as 

 2           a requirement before you can apply for the 

 3           dollars.  And ideally, once you bring all 

 4           of -- once you address all of your physical 

 5           needs on your property in a holistic way, 

 6           theoretically those improvements, like your 

 7           roof, your furnace, your windows, should last 

 8           you the life of the warranty, which is 20, 

 9           30 years out before the housing authority 

10           should be coming back to the state or the 

11           federal governmental for additional dollars.

12                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  I'm 

13           sorry, I have to cut you off, Senator 

14           Salazar.  Thank you.  

15                  Assemblywoman.

16                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We do not have 

17           any other Assemblymembers.

18                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Okay.  Then I'm 

19           going to turn it over to Senator Jackson.

20                  SENATOR JACKSON:  Hi.  Last but not 

21           least.  Let me just say I thank you, Bill, 

22           for -- Christine, you were a breath of fresh 

23           air coming down the home stretch.  So I thank 

24           you for listening to you.  


 1                  And I looked at the address, 

 2           Christine, where you live at, and I said, 

 3           whose district is that?  Because my district 

 4           is 13 miles of Manhattan on the west side, 

 5           basically from up in Inwood all the way down 

 6           to Chelsea.  And I said no, that's my 

 7           colleague's district.  But basically it's all 

 8           of our district to try to make sure that we 

 9           protect the people.

10                  And so I'm just happy that I stayed to 

11           the end to hear this.  I'm looking at the 

12           bill right now that Linda Rosenthal had 

13           introduced, and I will be talking to her 

14           tomorrow morning about this and being 

15           supportive.

16                  I do want to hear a little bit more 

17           about, you know, if in fact 421-a is totally 

18           out, and I do not believe that the developers 

19           will build affordable housing, that means the 

20           government is going to have to build 

21           affordable housing.  But as someone said to 

22           me, the billions of dollars in tax 

23           incentives, we should use that in building 

24           affordable -- good affordable housing for the 


 1           people of our city that need it.

 2                  So I just called in to say thank you 

 3           and continue advocating for the people that 

 4           rightfully deserve the services that were 

 5           provided.

 6                  Thank you, Madam Chair.

 7                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you, Robert 

 8           Jackson.  

 9                  And I also, I just want to say for the 

10           three New York City people on this panel, and 

11           for everyone listening, never self-evict in 

12           New York City.  We have right to counsel.  

13           You have no idea whether you have legal 

14           protections under something that you've never 

15           even heard of before.  

16                  So please, please, please don't let 

17           anyone you know self-evict.  First go find 

18           yourself a legal services attorney or another 

19           community group who's doing housing law, and 

20           really, really, really have them check for 

21           you.

22                  And now I think Senator Brian Kavanagh 

23           also has his hand up, Madam Chair.

24                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes.  Brian, we 


 1           need you to unmute.

 2                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  I thought I was 

 3           silent eloquence there.

 4                  (Laughter.)

 5                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  It was, but we 

 6           still like to hear from you.  

 7                  (Laughter.)

 8                  SENATOR KAVANAGH:  So I'm going to 

 9           keep this brief because it's after 10 p.m.  

10                  But Elise Levy, I would like to follow 

11           up on this issue of misinformation being 

12           provided to 421-a tenants.  But rather than 

13           kind of do a series of questions with my 

14           three minutes now, I'll just -- I think, if I 

15           may, just may have our Housing Committee 

16           director reach out to you.

17                  But -- and otherwise, just thank you 

18           to the panel for all of your testimony and 

19           for your stamina to be with us still at 

20           10 p.m.  Thanks.

21                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

22                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  I think the 

23           Senate is closed.  Thank you.

24                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Okay.  So I too 


 1           want to, on behalf of Senator Krueger and 

 2           myself, thank all of our colleagues who have 

 3           been with us, many from early today.  

 4                  I want to thank all of the witnesses, 

 5           those from this last panel as well as 

 6           everybody who's testified before us, and the 

 7           many people who submitted testimony and 

 8           chose -- submitted written testimony and 

 9           chose not to testify virtually.  But that 

10           testimony will be available to everybody.

11                  Right before I close this hearing, I 

12           want to remind people listening and our 

13           colleagues, tomorrow at 9:30 a.m., we will 

14           see you -- just under 12 hours -- we will be 

15           seeing you for the Environmental Conservation 

16           & Energy Hearing.  We'll be starting with the 

17           energy portion first tomorrow.

18                  And all the members and Senators 

19           should be getting -- or should have gotten 

20           already the texts -- those who are eligible 

21           and come from the relevant committees should 

22           have already gotten and been sent the witness 

23           list as well as all the testimony, so you can 

24           read up to help form your questions for 


 1           tomorrow.  And with that --

 2                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Spend the night 

 3           reading up for tomorrow.  Good idea, Helene.

 4                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Definitely.  

 5           Definitely.

 6                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Or try a little 

 7           sleep and then come back at 9:30 in the 

 8           morning.

 9                  CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  It will help 

10           you.  It may help you sleep.

11                  So with that, I want to officially 

12           close today's meeting.  Again, thank you all 

13           for participating.

14                  (Overtalk.)

15                  ASSEMBLYMAN EPSTEIN:  Thank you.  

16           Thank you, Chairs Krueger and Weinstein.  

17                  CHAIRWOMAN KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

18                 (Whereupon, at 10:08 p.m., the budget 

19           hearing concluded.)