January 22, 2020
Governor Andrew Cuomo presented his annual budget address yesterday afternoon in Albany. The actual budget bills were not released until later in the evening. Advocates have been concerned about news that New York State is facing a 2021 budget deficit in excess of $6 billion making funding cuts a possibility and restoration of cuts much more difficult. But, for RPCs and NPCs the news was very good. Governor Cuomo has proposed to fund RPCs at $5,360,000 or at last year’s final level from excess reserves of the Mortgage Insurance Fund (MIF). This is a very big win for Rural and Neighborhood Preservation companies in that it establishes a new base line of funding for the program. NPC is funded at $12,830,000 – also last year’s final number. It is not yet clear how this will translate to RPC contract amounts for the 2020/2021 contract cycle as there are still some unanswered questions but organizations can expect funding at a level similar to those of the past several years. This show of support from the Governor is a testament to the great work being done by RPCs. Congratulations to you all!
Rural Advocates are disappointed by flat funding of the Affordable Housing Corporation at $26 million. The proposed level of funding represents a $1 million or a 4% increase in total over the past 35 years. There is a proposal under active consideration and supported by Rural Advocates to increase AHC’s per unit limits. Given demand for the program and the impact of new per unit limits, AHC desperately needs a funding increase. Rural Advocates has joined with Habitat for Humanity and others to call for AHC funding to increase from the current $26 million to $44 million which would put the program on par with the Housing Trust Fund.
Funding for the continuation of our foreclosure mitigation efforts does not appear this budget proposal. Advocates are calling for $20 million to continue a HOPP-like foreclosure program . Rural Advocates support an expanded, full service housing counseling program with pre and post purchase counseling in addition to the foreclosure work.
The Rural Rental Assistance Program is funded at $21 million from the Mortgage Insurance Fund. For several years, RRAP was under a great deal of pressure but the program now seems to be on a stable funding trajectory.
The capital programs budget is very similar to last year. RESTORE is proposed at $1.4 million. Rural Advocates support a funding increase for RESTORE to bring the program to $2.4 million. Access to Home is at $1 million – flat funding for a program that is much needed in rural communities and for which there is plenty of demand.
The Housing Trust Fund is funded at $44.2 million. Rural Advocates supports a modest increase in HTF in order to fund a small project set aside to support a program modeled after the Office of Community Renewal’s Small Rental Project Development Initiative (SRDI).
New York State’s very successful Main Street program is also flat funded at $4.2 million.
Big news alluded to in the Governor’s address, HHAP funding will be increased from the current $64 million to $128 million. This increase reflects the success that the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance (OTDA) has had in funding projects that provide high quality housing for homeless individuals and families in a very wide range of settings. HHAP has been a great source of funding for small projects serving special populations in rural communities. The Homeless services programs will also receive funding from the MIF at $42.641 million.