‘Good cause’ eviction could worsen housing crisis

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There is no dispute that New York urgently needs more housing—and that need is especially felt here in the Rochester area. Upstate housing needs must not be ignored as state lawmakers continue negotiations on a final state budget. As REALTORS®, we are urging state lawmakers to enact balanced housing policies that address the needs of our region by incentivizing the construction of more affordable housing statewide, providing rental assistance to lower-income families and individuals through the proposed state Housing Access Voucher Program, and establishing a statewide housing right to counsel in eviction proceedings. These measures will provide tangible, lasting results to help stabilize the housing market and protect tenants at risk of eviction or becoming homeless.

A solution to New York’s housing crisis, however, is not “good cause” eviction. This proposed measure does not help create a single unit of housing, and contrarily, will lock up housing by further reducing apartment vacancy rates. Inherent flaws in the legislation would create perpetual leases by disregarding any pre-agreed length for the rental term. This creates an expectation for local housing providers to do more with less and creates a disincentive to continue providing housing. As they exit the business, the only buyers are large, out of state corporations that have no connection to the tenant or the community.

“Good cause” eviction also does not address those tenants at risk of eviction due to inability to pay rent. The Housing Access Voucher Program does address the rent burden faced by many New Yorkers in a meaningful way without disincentivizing the construction of new affordable housing our state needs.

It’s also critical that future homeowners must not be left out of the housing conversation. One way to help first-time homebuyers is for the state to establish a first-time homebuyer savings account program (S.6574/A.6933). This proposal would provide New Yorkers a state income tax deduction on deposits into the designated savings account when used toward the purchase of a first home. Similar to the state’s 529 College Savings Program, this first home savings program would help individuals and families save more money for a down-payment and closing costs.

Finally, it should be noted that housing is a main driver of our state and local economies. The construction, maintenance, and improvement of housing a complex ecosystem that not only houses New Yorkers but sustains thousands of jobs and is a critical source for state and local government revenue. It is also well-documented that stability in housing leads to improved social, health, and educational outcomes. We need to create more housing in the affordable and mid-market segments so that our neighbors can find housing that is appropriate for their needs, at an affordable price.

Given these wide-ranging impacts, there must be balance when considering major statewide housing policies. Unfortunately, any form of “good cause” eviction does not strike that balance and only risks exacerbating the current housing crisis that exists in our region and state.

We urge state lawmakers to consider these facts and enact responsible measures that deliver what New Yorkers need—more housing.

Mike O’Connor
President of the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS®

One thought on “‘Good cause’ eviction could worsen housing crisis

  1. As a family who is helping another community person in exactly this situation in the Rochester area who is living on the edge of homelessness because of unsustainable rent demands-while still giving back to the community- we applaud this piece. We are aware that the person we are helping is not the only one in this horribly stressful situation. We are also aware of others who are quietly helping some of our community members in this kind of need.
    There should be appropriate legislation, as well as a community consciousness about, and actions in support of, those in our community who are in pretty terrible personal situations but are nevertheless trying to help others in our community!! Accessibility to more immediate support is an issue. We have a lot of non-profits in this community who ultimately do good things. However, the cultural divide between those in need and many of those who administer our non-profits is wide, and the hoops that many of our non-profit organizations make such individuals jump through brings no timely relief to them when they have more immediate needs for help so they don’t wind up in shelters!

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