May 19, 2022
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks at New York State Association for Affordable Housing Conference

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Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks at New York State Association for Affordable Housing Conference
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Governor Hochul: "When we said we have to do something about the affordability crisis that hit so many people, we said let's make a commitment. Let's make an historic investment in affordable housing ... $25 billion investment to create 100,000 new homes for people of which 10,000 will be supportive housing. That's what we committed to in our budget, just recently enacted. I'm going to continue working with the legislature to find ways to incentivize, more ways to keep people in their homes."

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered remarks at the New York State Association for Affordable Housing Conference.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the event is available here.

PHOTOS will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Thank you, first of all, to Steve Weiss, who I've known for a very long time. Our families are friends and he has been the person who first, when I had different local positions, made sure I understand how critically important, not just this industry is, but the people that you serve. How important they are and how they deserve the dignity of a good home. And I want to thank Steve for his leadership, and this organization, I've spent a lot of time with Jolie Milstein, your incredible dynamic CEO and President. And also, Kirk Goodrich, who is our Chairperson.

All of you are committed to a cause that I also believe in, that is ensuring that we all recognize and act upon the philosophy that housing is a human right. I think about human rights in a broad way. And we're still searing because Steve and I are both from Buffalo. You also have a human right to stay alive and not to be gunned down because of the color of your skin or your religious beliefs or the origin of yourself or your family.

So in the context of this idea of rights, I thank you for being marching soldiers on the forefront to ensure that every single New Yorker has the opportunity to live in safe, decent, and affordable housing. So all of you in that sense are fellow public servants. Whatever drew you to this profession, you're having a profound impact on the people of our state in a time when they're just feeling so lost and hopeless. They don't understand what's happening to their wallets. They came through a pandemic, the disruptions, and all of a sudden they're on the ready to just say we're back to normal, and forces out of their control — global geopolitical conflicts half a world away, supply chain disruptions, fuel shortages now — all this means now is that life is just getting so expensive.

And part of that, the most expensive part of their existence, is their rent payment, their utility payments. Can they afford to pay for broadband, so the next time kids are sent home to learn remotely for a year and a half or two years, that they actually have the connectivity that will help them learn. Telehealth services - there's so many ways that the home is the epicenter of their existence, and it's going to be the determinant of whether or not they just survive or whether they actually thrive.

And that is the difference you make because we are committed as partners. And I have dynamic people with me in state government. One of the smartest things I did when I became a brand new Governor, just a few months ago, was to make sure that I kept the leader of Housing and Community Renewal, RuthAnne Viskaukas So let's give her a round of applause, RuthAnne.

I've gone to the most remote places of this state as Lieutenant Governor. And I've been to every corner, and I have cut more ribbons and shoveled more dirt with projects that you have supported. Bringing back tiny communities all the way to the most populated communities in the Bronx and Brooklyn and elsewhere. And RuthAnne is always that steady presence and the people that she has assembled on her team.

And I say, as the Governor, but also as a friend, I thank you for your vision. Your vision to realize the untold possibilities that, when government really works with partners like all of you, we can get things done, and we can transform people's lives. That's what I'm committed to continue doing. That's what our budget set out to do. A budget is a lot of numbers, but it's also a statement of my priorities and the priorities of the Legislature that adopted this budget. So, when we said we have to do something about the affordability crisis that hit so many people, we said "Let's make a commitment. Let's make an historic investment in affordable housing." And what does that look like? $10 billion? I said, no, that's not enough. $15 billion? No, I think we can do better. $20 billion? Let's go a little higher. $25 billion investment to create 100,000 new homes for people of which 10,000 will be supportive housing. That's what we committed to in our budget, just recently enacted.

I'm going to continue working with the legislature to find ways to incentivize, more ways to keep people in their homes. And that's one of the reasons we also had to deal with the aftermath of the pandemic when people lost their jobs, they couldn't make their payments, and we knew people are going to be at high risk of eviction. Literally my first week on the job at the end of August, we were facing down the September 1st deadline when people would be evicted from their homes. And we realized, that there was billions of dollars that had to be unleashed to help these people, to help the landlords, help people make their payments, help them to feel like they can survive. And we did that.

And I also called back the Legislature in an extraordinary session, especially as a brand new Governor. I called them back. I said, "I need you back in Albany. We have to extend this moratorium, to give them a little breathing space, because they're still not back to work." Maybe other parts of the country came back, but New York City was still hit so hard. Parts of our state, people still didn't have their jobs, working in hotels, working in hospitality, working in entertainment, working in our restaurants, our downtown businesses that were so empty. People were not back to work yet, so how are they supposed to make their payments? I said, "Let's give them a little bit of a lifeline, just till January." And we did that as well.

We also realized that, sometimes, we need to invest in neighborhoods directly. $7 million in neighborhood preservation, we're going to do that. We also recognize that, to lift people up, there's that whole idea of connectivity within their home. The digital divide was so profound. It nearly literally resulted in the haves and the have-nots in a way that we can never go back to. We've seen what that looks like. The systemic racism that's been involved when people, some houses get connectivity, some neighborhoods do, and others are just left behind.

So digital connectivity, one of your priorities is no longer a luxury. It's not something we're going to say, "Oh yes, that's, that's great. Some people have it." Everybody needs it. It's like air. If you have it and you breathe it, you're fine. You don't even think about it, but if you don't have it, you're suffocating. Too many people don't have the air to breathe, the opportunity to have access to the internet.

So that is why we have a $1 billion initiative to eradicate that injustice. We also know that as we put up new buildings, and I love the new buildings we are putting up, they're beautiful. They change the landscape of a neighborhood, and when you change the landscape of a neighborhood, you change the psychology of the people who live there. Even if they don't live in that building, they walk by, and I can't tell you many places, there is an abandoned block, or a burned down building that someone saw possibilities, one of you saw the possibilities of. And you changed the lives of the people who live in that home, but also the neighbors and the businesses who realize that this means we matter, somebody cared enough to make this neighborhood have a beautiful home, a beautiful building in it.

But also what those buildings can do can be damaging to our environment. And that is why we're leaning hard into our responsibilities, as stewards of this planet for our children, my brand new grandbaby, two weeks old, I'm going to go see her pretty soon. Tell her grandma is coming. But buildings contribute over 30% of the state's greenhouse gas emissions. That's not okay. That's not okay.

And we can do something about it. And RuthAnne and her team are making sure that we have the policies in place, so we can ensure that we have energy efficient designs. So this is an opportunity to spur economic recovery, put people to work, building these buildings, in some cases, providing the supportive housing.

And I can't tell you what lifts my heart the most is when I go into a building that has an intentional purpose to help people who've had a tough time in life. Whether it's supportive services for our veterans many of them came back with PTSD after 1, 2, 3, 4 tours of duty in between Iraq and Afghanistan, and our seniors who served in Vietnam, never got the respect they deserved, or the welcome home they deserved.

But now they deserve a home over their heads. So targeted housing, the supportive housing to deal with specific populations. One of the most beautiful places I went to I believe it was Brooklyn, it was a couple years back was home for senior LGBTQ members of the family. A lot of them don't have kids taking care of them.

They had now a community, a building of support resources, a community center. People understood the challenges they've encountered in life. People with mental health needs, people with substance abuse needs. All these services can be right in the context of the homes that you build as well. And I think that is so beautiful. I really do.

So I'm going to continue supporting this industry through legislation, the bully pulpit, executive orders, and I'm bringing my shovel all over the State of New York to continue supporting with you because we're going to keep building back this state and giving people again that very basic human right: a home. Thank you very much.

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