This U.S. state’s visionary new $650 million program integrates downtown revitalization with redevelopment of affordable housing

On August 31, 2023, the State of New York launched the Pro-Housing Communities Program, a statewide initiative to give priority consideration for up to $650 million in state discretionary funds to localities committed to housing growth.

What makes this program a model for all other states is the way it is integrated with New York’s existing community revitalization programs. As documented in the 2020 book, RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity, increasing downtown housing is often the single most important factor in creating lasting downtown revitalization.

Certified Pro-Housing Communities will receive priority over other localities in their applications for certain discretionary funds, including $650 million in State grant programs like the Downtown Revitalization Initiative that were included in the FY24 Budget.

Certified Pro-Housing Communities will be considered first among localities applying for:

  • The Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI)
  • The NY Forward program
  • The Regional Council Capital Fund
  • Capital projects from the Market New York program
  • The New York Main Street program
  • The Long Island Investment Fund (LIIF)
  • The Mid-Hudson Momentum Fund
  • The Public Transportation Modernization Enhancement Program (MEP).
  • Any other funding where future appropriation language designates it as a Pro-Housing Community program.

The program, announced by Governor Kathy Hochul earlier this summer as part of a package of executive actions to promote housing growth, invites municipalities (cities, towns, and villages) to apply for Pro-Housing Community certification.

Communities willing to help us solve the housing crisis should be first in line for State discretionary funding,” Governor Hochul said.

Increasing the housing supply in New York is critical, and I’m using every tool a governor has at her disposal to make an impact. I look forward to visiting Certified Pro-Housing communities across New York to celebrate their accomplishments in the months to come,” she added.

To be designated a Pro-Housing Community, municipalities must provide key information about their local zoning map/code and information detailing local housing permit approvals over the past five years.

Localities who submit documentation that their housing stock has increased by one percent in the previous year or 3 percent over the previous three years (downstate) or by 0.33 percent in the last year or 1 percent over the previous three years (upstate) will qualify for the certification.

Communities that have not yet seen housing growth can also achieve Pro-Housing Community designation by passing a resolution stating their commitment to Pro-Housing principles.

The New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal will review program applications on a rolling basis and provide approval or denial within 90 days of submission.

Those receiving certification must resubmit their housing permit data and any updates to their zoning on an annual basis to remain certified and qualify for prioritization.

The Pro-Housing Communities Program builds on Governor Hochul’s oft-stated commitment to increase the housing supply and address New York’s housing crisis.

The Governor’s executive actions also included:

  • A program to advance residential projects halted by the expiration of 421-A that include affordable housing in the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn.
  • A new requirement that all State entities identify the potential for their state-owned lands to support housing.
  • Recent and forthcoming regulatory initiatives to identify opportunities for greater efficiencies to promote housing growth.
  • The launch of the beta version of a new, interactive portal to collect and share community-level housing and zoning data and information on an ongoing basis.

Photo courtesy of NY Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

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