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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul brings housing pitch to Albany Barn collective

 Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan listens as New York Governor Kathy Hochul shares her proposal to create 800,000 units of new housing over the next 10 years.
Dave Lucas
At the Barn, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan listens as New York Governor Kathy Hochul shares her proposal to create 800,000 units of new housing over the next 10 years.

Taking her housing plan to the people, New York Governor Kathy Hochul visited the Albany Barn Wednesday.

In her State of the State address, Hochul unveiled the New York Housing Compact, an ambitious housing proposal to create 800,000 new units of housing over the next decade. Legislators are debating the plan's merits.

Hochul says the Capital Region is one area that needs more homes. She says the Albany Barn, a former school building that sat empty for 20 years before being converted into housing and arts space, could be a model.

Hochul says New Yorkers are "calling out for help" due to the limited supply of affordable housing.

"If we can't have housing that young families can afford, or on the other end of life's spectrum, senior citizens who want to downsize from the house that they raised their kids in, if they can't find an apartment or a townhouse to live in, then they can't stay here," Hochul said. "They'll go to other states where they've been building more. I'm also concerned about all the employers that are coming here."

Hochul is confident the state will answer that call for help, with New York situated to become the epicenter of the semi-conductor manufacturing industry and companies like GlobalFoundries and Micron setting up shop here.

"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 downtown's, beautiful scenery," Hochul said. "And we sold them on it. But now they estimate to be 50,000 jobs coming to upstate New York. I need to put houses out there, so people can live in them. So this is a good problem to have. We can manage this. And that's just one company."

Hochul says people deserve the dignity of a good home. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, a fellow Democrat who moved to a refurbished home in the Barn's neighborhood, says "spaces need to be reimagined."

"We rezoned Albany based on our 2030 Comprehensive Plan, and created the opportunity to build denser housing near our largest employers," said Sheehan. "We have been successful over the last 10 years in creating or renovating 1,500 units of subsidized housing. 1,500 units, and we have another 1,000-plus in the pipeline. And alongside that, we've created more than 1,000 units of market rate housing, because, again, as wonderful as this place is, right, it doesn't add to our tax base. So we have to ensure that we are doing market rate housing, right alongside the subsidized housing, so that we can grow our tax base, so that we can provide the essential city services and the public safety that everyone in every neighborhood deserves."

Hochul’s proposal includes a $250 million Infrastructure Fund and $20 million Planning Fund to support new construction statewide.

The state budget is due April 1st.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.