During the first day of the state legislative session Wednesday, statehouse leaders declared that a lack of affordable housing ranks among the top crises New Yorkers face, laying the groundwork for potential solutions.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie argued that elected officials are long overdue in delivering a housing solution.

“Every community in this state is feeling the effects of our housing crisis, and it is up to us to enact solutions. All stakeholders must come to the table and have a serious discussion about how we can work together to solve New York’s affordable housing crisis,” Heastie said during opening remarks on the Assembly floor.

“We must build more affordable housing across the state, but at the same time, protect those in our existing housing stock. We can’t afford not to act,” he added.

What You Need To Know

  • Gov. Hochul will deliver her 2024 State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 9
  • The state budget is due Monday, April 1
  • Top issues include housing, migrant funding, education and health care spending

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins agreed, but took the notion a step further. She said she wants to secure a deal that marries the controversial “Good Cause Eviction” proposal with developer incentives.

“The most significant cost burden facing our constituents today is housing. The soaring cost of living in New York threatens the very essence of our state's identity,” Stewart-Cousins said during opening remarks on the state Senate floor.

“It's time for us to develop a comprehensive plan that not only protects tenants including the principles of good cause, but also paves the way for the construction of new, affordable housing,” she added.

Gov. Kathy Hochul favors a deal on building incentives, similar to a now-expired program called 421a that gave builders incentive to build additional units in exchange for a property tax exemption.

Last year, the legislature and Hochul couldn’t come to a deal after the governor announced an ambitious housing program that included construction mandates for localities and a goal of building 800,000 homes statewide by 2030.

This time, the same players and pressures exist, but few details have so far emerged about how Hochul and the legislature will tackle the problem.

Although Hochul created a workaround incentive program where builders can apply for grant funding, construction of new units has drastically slowed.

All 213 members of the legislature are up for reelection this year, so critics argue that the pressures to pass controversial policy will be a tough sell.

Wednesday marked the official start of the 2024 legislative session, which will continue over the next 61 days.

Hochul and the legislature have until April 1 to agree on a state budget package, which is expected to exceed last year’s over $229 billion statewide funding plan.

Lawmakers championed past successes Wednesday, like investments in education and health care, before getting to additional issues they won’t be forced to confront until early June.

Education, health care and migrant funding will be key issues, as will how the state will meet previously established green energy goals.

Hochul is slated to give more details on her plan in her 2024 State of the State speech Tuesday, Jan. 9.