UPDATED: Sept. 14 1:18 p.m. The state is one step closer to releasing $2 billion earmarked for affordable and supportive housing, but it’s up to the legislature to sign off on the agreement.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has advanced the elusive memorandum of understanding, which would allow for the release of $2 billion in funding to create 100,000 units of affordable and supportive housing over the next five years. Cuomo announced on Wednesday that he instructed the director of the state’s Division of the Budget to execute the MOU, and called on the state legislature to also sign the agreement.
But right now that doesn’t seem likely because Senate Republicans are not onboard.
“This is a one-way MOU,” said Scott Reif, spokesperson for Sen. Majority Leader John Flanagan. “This has not been agreed to. There have been negotiations, but no agreement. We do remain hopeful that all sides can reach a resolution.”
The MOU has been a source of controversy for the last several months. Cuomo and legislative leaders failed to reach an agreement to release the full $2 billion before the end of the last legislative session, agreeing to only release $150 million.
Housing advocates have repeatedly called on the governor, Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to sign the MOU.
One group, the New York State Association for Affordable Housing, previously claimed that inaction on the MOU was imperiling nearly 3,000 affordable and supportive housing units from moving forward. The organization released a statement on Wednesday applauding the governor for moving the measure forward.
Cuomo has previously said that he doesn’t anticipate the remaining funds earmarked for affordable housing to be divvied up until 2017. Representatives for Cuomo and Heastie didn’t immediately respond to requests seeking comment.
“This agreement marks a major step forward in the state’s comprehensive efforts to combat the homelessness and affordable housing crisis in New York,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I call on the State Legislature to join me in this effort, and sign the Memorandum of Understanding so we can fully realize the transformational benefits this historic investment will bring for New York’s most vulnerable residents.”