New York Note – Housing Incentives, Rikers Island, Asylum Seekers

September 6, 2023

Pro-Housing Communities Program

Gov. Hochul has announced a new Pro-Housing Communities Program, which will direct $650M in state discretionary funds to municipalities that commit to building more housing. “Pro-housing communities” will receive priority consideration for several economic development and housing grants. For approval, a municipality must demonstrate that its housing stock has increased by 1% in the past year or 3% in the past three years downstate, or 1% in the past three years upstate. Gov. Hochul did not support this idea earlier in the session, when it was suggested by legislative leaders in the one-house budgets from the Assembly and Senate, and previously stated that it did not go far enough in solving the state’s housing crisis.

Closing Rikers Island

Last Thursday, several elected officials and advocates held a rally urging the closure of Rikers Island. Earlier in the week, Mayor Adams urged City Council to revisit the 2019 law, requiring Rikers Island to close by 2027, and said that too many people are detained at the jail. There is also a potential for federal receivership of Rikers Island, as a federal judge recently began a court process that could result in handing control of the jail over to a third party.

Work Authorization for Asylum Seekers

Mayor Adams, union leaders, and state lawmakers held a rally on Thursday encouraging federal officials to expedite work authorization for asylum seekers. Governor Hochul also met with officials in the Biden administration to request further support for the state. Federal guidance acknowledged “structural and operational issues” with NYC’s approach to the influx of asylum seekers, and suggested putting out a call to private businesses to provide free services and legal counsel to asylum seekers.


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