The Joint Senate/Assembly hearing on the housing programs included in the Governor’s 2018/19 budget proposal was held on Wednesday, January 24th. Some of the issues highlighted in the testimony given include:
- There is a proposal to bifurcate the LIHTC and State housing tax credit programs. Essentially, bifurcation means that the state and federal tax credit programs will not be linked, and the state program will be available on a stand alone basis. There was discussion of how the bifurcation will benefit developers of affordable housing in the face of federal tax reform. The HCR Commissioner indicated that HCR has a pretty good idea of how the tax changes will impact LIHTC pricing because the market adjusted about 12 months ago, when federal tax reform was first discussed.
- The Commissioner was questioned about the status of Lake Ontario flooding recovery efforts. Commissioner Visnauskas replied that they have received applications that are estimated to total approximately $69 million or more in claims. The 4 nonprofit program administrators have been asked to prioritize projects based on health and safety concerns, and those projects with such concerns are being worked on first. She mentioned that about $5 million in other funding has been reprogrammed to help with the flood recovery, increasing the pool of residential recovery funds to $20 million.
- Several Senators, including Finance Committee Chair Cathy Young indicated support for tweaking the Access to Home for Veterans program to allow it to serve disabled Veterans in addition to those with service-related disabilities in recent wars. Senator Young mentioned that the restrictive definition was not included in the statute for the program, and hopes that the definition of eligible Veterans can be opened very soon.
- Many of the legislators expressed concerns about the repair needs of affordable housing projects owned by the New York City Housing Authority. Boilers, roof replacement, and elevators are all key cost centers of the $17 billion in repair needs for NYCHA. Commissioner Visnauskas stated that NYCHA submitted a plan for spending the state’s $200 million prior allocation for repairs to DASNY in November, and that plan is under review.
- During testimony, it was mentioned that in one senior project with deferred maintenance, the elevators are not working, and if a wheelchair bound resident wants to go out, they have to call the local rescue squad to be carried down to ground level, and then back upstairs again.
- Rural Advocates, the Rural Housing Coalition and the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition submitted testimony, asking for Preservation Company funding of $100,000, plus Coalition technical assistance contract support of $250,000 each. This increased level of support will allow the Coalitions to better respond to increased training and technical assistance requests that have resulted from the staffing cuts at HCR. The Rural Housing Coalition is currently dealing with a number of leadership retirements in the rural network, assisting boards of directors to develop succession plans and orient new hires as they come aboard. The Coalition is also concerned about the number of retirements in the community development consulting field, and the loss of program design and grant writing support that this sector has historically provided to small villages and towns across rural New York.