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New York State Comptroller Addresses County Housing Costs

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New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli addressed the issue of affordable housing in Westchester at a breakfast Monday hosted by Community Housing Innovations (CHI) at Tappan Hill.

“We wanted to put a spotlight on this issue of where we’re at with affordable housing. This is an issue we all need to put in clearer and sharper focus, ” DiNapoli said. “Where we’re at with the housing issue is not separate from the challenges we’re facing in the larger economy.”

DiNapoli said that almost half of renters and almost a third of homeowners in Westchester pay more than 30 percent of their annual income on housing, which classifies them as cost-burdened under federal affordable housing guidelines.

“When nearly half your income goes to pay for a place to live, you are going to be stretched thin when it comes to everyday spending,” DiNapoli said.

The comptroller also cited research by CHI that found 13 percent of Westchester’s 25 to 34-year-old population leaves the state due to the high cost of living.

The speech focused on identifying factors that could result in high housing costs. DiNapoli did not bring up any definite action or policies to address those issues.

CHI Executive Director Alexander Roberts said that DiNapoli gave an “excellent” speech that “put in high relief” the challenges Westchester faces regarding the housing market. Roberts characterized those challenges as too much government interference with housing regulations.

“We can go the route that New York went that said, ‘well, we need more affordable housing so we’re going to have rent control,’ which devastated places like the Bronx. Or we can go the route of reducing exclusionary zoning—a lot of these communities only allow single-family housing,” Roberts said. “We should reduce government regulation preventing multifamily housing near transportation hubs. Any time a multifamily housing facility is built, it’s always over subscribed.”

Roberts said overregulation was hurting the ability of Westchester County—and New York State in general—to compete in the housing market against states like Texas.

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