Hochul’s Resurrected Housing Agenda Faces Resistance in Yonkers Suburbs

An initiative led by New York Governor Kathy Hochul is once again facing criticism from suburbanites concerned about affordable housing plans in the region.

Hochul is leading the charge for improvements to affordable housing within New York state. With an influx of immigrants and low-income workers making their home in Westchester County, Hochul is focused on new development. Her plan intends for 800,000 new homes to be constructed across the state over the next 10 years.

Local officials, both in 2022 and again now, have voiced their concerns over the proposed production targets for cities like Yonkers. They plead that local infrastructure decisions be made at the municipal level.

Westchester Democratic Senator Peter Harckham is familiar with the complaints from suburban communities. His recent support of the accessory dwelling unit (ADU) proposal drew criticism from his own constituents.

“I know from personal experience, most municipalities are incredibly wed to their authority with home rule and are very defensive of that,” said Harckham. “I’ve already heard from some municipalities who just conceptually are in opposition. Others are saying, ‘let’s wait until we see what the actual language is.'”

Governor Hochul’s plan would allow the state to intervene and approve new developments if a municipality fails to meet its production quotas. In an interview on January 23rd, Hochul spoke of her commitment to providing affordable housing across the state.

“They want to live in Westchester and Nassau and Suffolk in particular. There’s a lot of jobs down there, and a lot of employers are saying, ‘I can’t get the workers I need.’ We have to have affordable housing to bring them out.”

Governor Kathy Hochul

The proposed initiative would require municipalities served by the MTA to ramp up production and increase housing by a minimum of 3% over three years. Towns upstate would only be mandated for a 1% increase. There are also special provisions for towns that focus on affordable housing, which count as double against the production goal. Hochul is prepared to assist with related infrastructure costs such as schools, roads, and sewers.

“We’re going to help them financially,” she said. “We’re going to help them overcome those hurdles, and also there’ll be incentives for people to do this building.”

But that help is not likely to be enough to satisfy communities on the east side of Yonkers like Colonial Heights and Bryn Mawr. Historically, these single-family home neighborhoods have ardently held on to their strict zoning restrictions. They won the fight last year and Hochul rescinded her plans. But this new year and this new budget will surely mobilize those communities again in opposition.

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