Dear Editor,

Upstate and Rural New York are facing a housing affordability crisis, particularly as many of our communities north of New York City saw a large influx of residents due to the pandemic. State Sen. Michelle Hinchey’s request of $200 million in this year’s state budget would fund the development of affordable and workforce housing, both for homeownership and rental properties, in rural communities. I applaud Sen. Hinchey’s initiative.

Included are $51 million in funding for the Affordable Housing Corporation (AHC), which supports homeownership through new construction, provides down payment and closing cost assistance and the rehabilitation of owner-occupied housing (Funding has been flat for over 35 years while costs for staff and materials have increased annually); $30 million for the Small Rental Development Initiative to lower state and federal housing development thresholds to 20 units or less in rural areas; $23.4 million for the Rural Rental Assistance Program to expand current rental subsidies to non-USDA or state-funded rental housing developments to increase the supply of affordable rental units across upstate New York; $50 million for the Community Land Trust Revolving Acquisition Fund to boost the vital work of rehabbing old buildings in cities and towns across the state and then transitioning them to long-term affordable homeownership.

The underlying problem with housing affordability is lack of housing inventory. Let’s rally support for these critical investments in our rural communities by calling our respective state senators and Senate Majority Leader Cousins (518) 455-2585, this week.

Lin Sakai
New Paltz, N.Y.