Governor Hochul: "My plan is to have groundbreakings at the start of over 800,000 new housing units over the next decade...It's ambitious. It can be challenging, but as long as I'm Governor of the State of New York, I will never be afraid of the challenges. If it was easy, it would've been done before me. Now is the time for real leadership and to pull together a state and to overcome people's fears of change and hesitation about new policies because ultimately, we're doing this for the people of New York."
Hochul: "Whether you want to have housing that's affordable for families or market rate or high-end or condos or apartments, it doesn't matter. We're not dictating this. We're simply saying, "Just start building.' Give people options because otherwise our full potential will never be realized. And that to me would be a shame. We're better than that. People deserve the dignity of a good home, and I want to make sure that they know that we're not afraid of this."
Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul visited converted housing units and highlighted the urgency of the New York Housing Compact in Albany.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Well, I had the shortest commute I've had in a long time today. I just came down the road. But this is my adopted hometown. And I love Albany. I love this city. I love the history. I love the people. And actually, I love the government too, despite what people think sometimes.
But it's an extraordinary place, and a place where people have visions that I want to talk about here today, because I believe that this is a model for the rest of the state as we work to achieve our goals to create more homes for New Yorkers and people who want to become New Yorkers.
I want to first recognize our leaders in our state legislature. They are at every single event I'm at. They are champions of this region, and I consider them strong allies here. Pat Fahy, our Assemblymember, and John McDonald. Let's give them both a round of applause.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan, you have truly left a mark on this city during your tenure as Mayor, and I'm glad it continues to get longer because we need people like you. We need true public servants who believe in their communities with such heart and such passion. And I thank you for your leadership over the City of Albany. Mayor Kathy Sheehan - let's give her another round of applause.
I also want to recognize we have some neighboring mayors. I do get out to all your communities as well, so don't worry about that. Kamal Johnson, the Mayor of the City of Hudson is here, Kamal Johnson. Ron Kim, the Mayor of Saratoga Springs. Ron, great to see you again. Bill Keeler, the Mayor of Cohoes was here as well. Bill, thank you. We also have Darius Shahinfar, the Treasurer of the City of Albany has joined us - a job you know something about, right Mayor? And also you mentioned at the outset, Chiquita DArbeau, right? DArbeau - did I get it right? Okay - the Executive Director of the Albany Housing Authority. RuthAnne Visnauskas, I'm not sure if she's here yet, but she is coming off a fresh run of being - well, having fun on the Hill as we talk about her work to support our agency. I think she just had her public hearing, so we'll talk about what RuthAnne Visnauskas is doing. She'll be joining us in a few minutes.
But also, I met the most interesting person, Megan Ruch, are you in the audience? Megan Ruch, where are you? Where are you? She is one of our residents here. And she is the most enthusiastic person you'll ever want to meet. If you're ever having a down day, please reach out to Megan because you will just feel extraordinary. In fact, she is in one of the former classrooms in this building - and we'll talk about this building in a couple moments - they still have the original chalkboard. And she sends herself messages, and I want to share one with you because it'll define who she is as well. "Nothing great has ever been achieved without enthusiasm." And that's from Ralph Waldo Emerson. That is written on your chalkboard. I just noticed that a few minutes ago. So, let's give a round of applause to our new friend, Megan. And she has an adorable cat named Sheldon. I had a chance to meet Sheldon. We'll talk more about them in a second.
But the reason we're in this space, and those of you who may have gone to St. Joseph's Academy - it closed in 1978 - know that there's a great story here. Our videographer, his father went to school here and talked about his experiences here. I walk into a former Catholic school and all of a sudden, my knuckles start hurting because of the muscle memory of getting whacked with rulers by nuns. So, this was part of Albany's story, educated a lot of people, but then when it became abandoned, it sat here mocking this city for 20 years. Just saying, "We're hopeless. There's nothing that's going to happen here." And it was a blight on this community, a blight on this neighborhood.
But the City of Albany and the Housing Authority had a different vision. And they were so ahead of their time, they were so ahead of their time. This went from being a complete eyesore, to an asset. And that's what I want to keep talking about. And it had such a positive impact on the community, and it became a home for artists. And the energy that exists here - we have people that are incredible watercolor artists like Megan, and others who are in the performing arts sharing studio space. Their homes are extraordinary. Literally, her studio where she does her work, and her framing is right next to her little kitchen.
But it's amazing how we brought together people who otherwise would not be congregating in a building. You get that creative energy that just abounds here. So showcasing arts and culture and the talent. This space is now 22 low-cost workspaces, as well as a 13,000 square foot arts program space available - the Barn. And people like Megan, as I mentioned, she's able to live here for 10 years and has a thriving business. You know, she's an artist who's in high demand. She'll give you her card. I have your card. And she also makes great lemon squares, which she shared with us.
So, she turned her home into a beautiful expression of herself. It's really powerful. And this space is a testament to the vision behind doing just that. That's what I want to see replicated all over the State of New York. Local communities who say, "We don't have to put up with these eyes sores any longer. Why don't we reimagine them into beautiful homes and spaces where people can congregate?"
Doesn't have to all be artists, but also, you know, can we focus on people and what they want to do and where they want to live? Fixing up the park across the street and making this more walkable, creating great attractions, just giving people a chance to call something their home. Because right now in the State of New York, we're facing literally a generational crisis. When I was growing up in Buffalo, you never worried about finding a home, you're worried about finding a job. That's why there were so many homes available. Houses were cheap, among the cheapest in the nation, because there was not demand. Plenty of supply, no demand, the prices go down.
Fast forward to today from that time of double-digit unemployment to where we are now - statewide, 3 percent, 3.8 percent unemployment. Now there's jobs, people want to be here, but the housing supply has not kept up with that, and as a result, what happens is limited supply, high demand, the prices go up. And that's the affordability crisis. When people all across the state talk about what keeps them up at night, it is the affordability of living here, how hard it is to live here sometimes. And your biggest cost is the cost of your mortgage payment or your rent, and those are driven up higher than they should be because this state has not built the communities from Long Island up to the North Country or to Buffalo down to Jamestown.
We have not kept pace with the demand for housing, so we can build more, we can do more. Other states have. You look at the statistics and see the states that we're losing people to - a lot of people living in New Jersey, for example, because they have grown exponentially; Northern Virginia, all of my family from Buffalo migrated to Northern Virginia over the last few decades. They continue to build 20, 30 percent more housing.
So, we have, sometimes in our regions, restrictive land use policies, some of the most restrictive in the nation. You see the impact. You see the impact of this. And New Yorkers are calling out for help. They really are, and we have to listen to them. We have to address their needs. They want strong public safety, they want security. We're focused on public safety, always will be.
But also, that's why in my budget, as well as my State of the State address just back in January, I proposed what we call the New York Housing Compact. My plan is to have groundbreakings at the start of over 800,000 new housing units over the next decade.
Thank you. It's ambitious. It can be challenging, but as long as I'm Governor of the State of New York, I will never be afraid of the challenges. If it was easy, it would've been done before me. Now is the time for real leadership and to pull together a state and to overcome people's fears of change and hesitation about new policies because ultimately, we're doing this for the people of New York.
Who are these people? Your own kids who grew up in the neighborhood, educated here, go off to school, they come back - or maybe educated locally. They want to raise their family where they were grown up because they want to be around babysitters, they want to be around their parents. I know this. That's why I moved back to Buffalo from Washington. But I also wanted my kids to grow up around grandparents and aunts and uncles and have that sense of community that I think is so important to a young person's identity. So, that's the environment my kids grew up in.
But, if we can't have housing that young families can afford, or on the other end of life spectrum, senior citizens who want to downsize from the house that they raise their kids in, if they can't find an apartment or a townhouse to live in, then they can't stay here. They'll go to other states where they've been building more.
I'm also concerned about all the employers coming here. It is so exciting in the Capital Region that we are becoming the epicenter of, for example, the semiconductor manufacturing industry, and we're just getting started. This is so exciting. From Global Foundries to Micron and so many others, the whole ecosystem is there. But when I was able to land, with Senator Schumer, Micron to keep them from going to Texas where they thought they were going, I persuaded them that Upstate New York is the place where we have more affordability, we have the hardest working individuals, talented people, great quality of life, charming downtowns, beautiful scenery - and we sold them on it.
But now, they estimate there'll be 50,000 jobs coming to Upstate New York. I need to put houses out there so these people can live in them. So, this is a good problem to have. We can manage this. And that's just one company. The supply chain companies around this are phenomenal. So, I have set a target for our communities to meet that demand, to be able to take care of employers who want to hire people, they have to be living somewhere, take care of our young families, take care of people just out of school, take care of our seniors, and I know we can do this.
So, we decided to set targets because you can wait forever and hope that everything changes, or you can be realistic and say it hasn't changed until now, something has to be different.
What is different is in my proposal for the New York Housing Compact, we're proposing that every community meet a target, whether you're Downstate or Upstate - Downstate, 3 percent, Upstate 1 percent growth in your housing over the next three years.
Now, for 80 percent of communities, that's 50 units or less. That can be two of these buildings. You've met your demand, or you can put in townhouses or patio homes or whatever you want. We're not saying the type of housing we're looking for because you know your communities best. You know what the demand is. So, whether you want to have housing that's affordable for families or market rate or high-end or condos or apartments, it doesn't matter. We're not dictating this. We're simply saying, "Just start building." Give people options because otherwise our full potential will never be realized. And that to me would be a shame. We're better than that. People deserve the dignity of a good home, and I want to make sure that they know that we're not afraid of this.
And I need all of you to be the advocates to explain what we're looking for, to lean into this. Whether it's repurposing buildings like the Barn, the Old School, we'll have incentives on the books. Incentives for - if you want to do multi-family housing, we'll have incentives. We also know that Mayor Sheehan was never afraid of this. She leaned hard into these ideas, and Albany hit its goal of 487 goals, and she's still building. She is still going at it. And she knows that that brings a life and an energy to downtowns where the alternative is to be abandoned. And you've truly transformed this city with your vision over on Clinton Avenue, run-down buildings into 210 apartments. It's hard to do, but the reward is extraordinary, and we're going to do the same with the Central Warehouse. When you go by this blight, and I come off that exit all the time, it's like, oh my gosh, that is ugly. Sorry. But what great possibilities that that building brings to this community for multi-use purposes. It's going to be transformative what we can do to that part of town.
So, I know there's costs involved. Yes, I know this because I spent 14 years in local government. I've worked with my planning board, my zoning board, my traffic safety board, town board. I knew all the ways that communities could say yes, and I knew all the ways they could say no.
And we got people to "yes," we got people to "yes." And sometimes some of the costs associated with needing new sewers. We go, well, "We can't do it. We need new sewers. We can't afford it." Well, guess what? Your State government can help make that happen in this year's budget to support our Housing Compact, we're putting over $250 million initially on the table for those communities that want to step up right now and say, "We have a plan."
We have developers. We have a vision. We just want to know if we can get some help with the infrastructure. And also, smaller communities don't always have the planning departments that are required. It's a challenge. So, we're putting $20 million into a fund to help with your planning. My Office of Housing and Community Renewal is going to be a partner, and I'm going to bring in the people, the resources we need to make this be successful so municipalities can undertake rezonings to hit their growth targets if they need to. We'll help cut the red tape any anyway we can. And if there's projects that make sense for a community and a developer has a plan, wants to go forward, but there's opposition, we'll give that developer what we call the, you know, builder's remedy, a chance to make their case to a different entity in the State government.
That's what's new. But we're also talking about fast tracking projects as well, because we cannot wait. Projects can be two, three, four, five years - I've seen it happen. That's not going to get us to our goal of building 800 housing units over the next decade. So, I believe housing is a basic human right. I saw how housing is also a symbol of people when they progress through life if they're successful.
My parents used to live in a trailer park. I still visit that trailer park. People still live there. It is rundown. It is a tough neighborhood. My dad only got out because he could get a college degree while working at the steel plant. But then that's when my brother was born. Nine months later, their daughter comes along, and they need a little tiny flat above a building near the steel plant.
That was the next step. And then when there were four kids, they got a little Cape Cod house and when there were six kids, I shared an attic with two brothers. Didn't have heat in the winter. It was pretty darn hot in the summer, but we all fit there. And that was to us a dream, to have a house like that. And then my parents did even better in life.
Everybody deserves that. No matter where you start, you have to have the opportunity to see the possibility that you can have upward mobility as you're able to seek other means of income. And we're bringing those good paying jobs here right now. That's the point I'm making. People are going to be able to afford nice houses if we build them.
So, everybody deserves this. I know you believe this, but I need to help go out there and persuade a lot of other people. We have a few weeks. The budget is going to be negotiated very shortly. I put out my vision. I believe it is a strong vision that'll elevate New York State in a way like we've never could have before.
And it does take courage, but also takes an army of support behind me, and I'm looking at a room full of people I'm counting on being soldiers, to go forth. At the end of the day when we have done this, we can look back that people can actually afford a house because there's more houses to choose from. We'll say, "We did what we're supposed to do in government, and communities made a difference."
That's why I'm here. Thank you very much.