Housing Investment Fund One Step Closer to Reality

The Empire State Housing Alliance, one of our statewide networks raising awareness about New York’s affordable housing crisis, had a huge victory this week. New York State Senator Pedro Espada introduced legislation (S5727) to create a statewide fund that would bring close to $200 million in new funds for affordable housing every year till the sun stops shining. Where does the money come from? The bulk of it would come from state real estate transfer taxes and excess revenue from the Mortgage Insurance Fund. Without getting too fancy, real estate transfer taxes are just what they sound like, a tax that gets charged by the state government when you transfer title of a property. The Mortgage Insurance Fund is a lot trickier to explain. There’s this state agency that provides mortgage insurance and they use the money they collect to make other investments to make more money. What ever money they make after they cover the books goes into the state’s general fund. Why give it to them when we could use it to build more housing that’s worth living in, puts people to work, and changes the face of our neighborhood, right? This has been nearly 3 years in the making. In September 2006, PUSH went to Albany with groups from across New York to think through one of the biggest problems facing the state – hard working families all over just cant find quality affordable places to live! The groups came together out of frustration with the way state programming was set up - making it hard for little groups like PUSH to get funds, or not having enough funds to provide housing for the poorest folks in the state who needed it the most. So with the help of Mary Brooks and the Center for Community Change, we spent the next two years figuring out how it should work so housing funds could work for us. Now that we’ve got a real piece of legislation in the mix, it’s time to make sure it happens! Call your state senator and send them a letter through our friends at Habitat for Humanity in NYC to let them you want more affordable housing NOW.