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STATEMENT: Empire Justice Center on Governor Hochul’s 2023 State of the State

Alex Dery Snyder January 10, 2023

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2023
Contact
Alex Dery Snider
aderysnider@empirejustice.org
202.641.5124

EMPIRE JUSTICE CENTER STATEMENT ON
GOVERNOR HOCHUL’S STATE OF THE STATE

Following Governor Hochul’s State of the State address, Empire Justice Center President and CEO Kristin Brown released the following statement:

On Housing
“We applaud Gov Hochul’s move to increase the availability of affordable housing for New Yorkers, and hope to see significant investment in rest-of-state communities facing low vacancy rates and high costs. We hope to see several additional elements in the Executive Budget. It’s critical that any comprehensive housing plan includes an increase of the Public Assistance Shelter Allowance. The current Shelter Allowance is woefully inadequate, having fallen far below inflation over decades – there are no apartments in the private rental market available at shelter allowance rates. It is critical that we create a comprehensive housing strategy that serves all New Yorkers, including our lowest income residents.”

On Supporting Homeowners in High-Need Communities of Color
“In addition to expanding homeownership, we must also preserve it. It’s critical to invest in foreclosure prevention measures, like the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), to preserve homeownership in Black and Brown communities. Homeowners of color in New York State have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, reporting a 16.8% delinquency rate as compared to a 5.6% rate for white homeowners. As New York’s main program helping homeowners, HOPP is necessary now more than ever to assist with post-pandemic challenges including higher interest rates, increased tax and mortgage foreclosures, inheritance issues, a lack of rental options. Additionally, each $1 million invested in HOPP has historically yielded a return of over $5 million in tax and property cost savings.”

On Expanding the Tenant Protection Unit
“The best way to ensure tenant protection is to ensure a level playing field by ensuring that tenants have access to representation through a statewide right to counsel in eviction matters. Building off the New York City’s model will bring fairness to the rest of the state in a complex, traumatic process that has serious potential consequences for education, health and wellbeing, social cohesion, and more. We hope to see such a proposal in the Executive Budget proposal.

On Establishing Statewide Database to Promote Transparency in zoning
“We applaud the creation of a statewide database to promote transparency on zoning. Zoning has been and remains one of the most active, prominent, and insidious formalized systems of racial exclusion in housing in the U.S. Transparency in data is a good step toward ensuring inclusive zoning.”

On Indexing the Minimum Wage
“Indexing the minimum wage will be a key strategy in the work to lift New Yorkers out of poverty, and we fully support this.”

On Making it Easier to Obtain Tax Credits
“In our work at CASH (Creating, Assets, Savings and Hope), we help people to ensure they are claiming all the tax credits that they are entitled to. We have supported almost quarter of a million families though our VITA program, in the Rochester area, to set them on a path towards financial stability. It’s a policy choice for the state and the federal government to make it difficult for people to navigate tax preparation, and we applaud the Governor’s intention to reduce those barriers, while keeping the digital divide in mind, so more New Yorkers can access the benefits they are entitled to.”

On Increasing Legal Services Support for Office for New Americans
“Immigrant and refugee communities are an integral part of New York’s lifeblood. We fully support Governor Hochul’s plans to invest resources in programs and services that will stabilize New Americans. In particular, we applaud the governor’s recognition of the need to increase funding for the Office of New Americans to provide legal services, which are an essential element of supporting people who have newly arrived in the U.S. ”

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ABOUT EMPIRE JUSTICE CENTER
Empire Justice Center is a legal services organization that seeks to make the law work for all New Yorkers, especially those who need it the most. We do so by identifying critical issues, developing and implementing creative solutions and monitoring ongoing results. Our staff has protected and strengthened the legal rights of people in New York, especially historically marginalized communities, for more than forty years. We do this through three major areas of service: we teach the law by providing training, support and technical assistance to legal services and private attorneys and other community-based advocates to help them better serve their clients; We practice the law by providing direct civil legal assistance and undertaking impact litigation; and we improve the law by engaging in policy analysis, research and advocacy.