ALBANY, N.Y.—The state has a new agency to administer its key housing programs, including low-income housing tax credits.
New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) brings together several housing agencies under a single leadership structure headed by Commissioner and CEO Brian Lawlor.
The state has a wealth of programs to address all types of housing and community renewal needs. However, the programs have been scattered across several agencies, diluting their potential, says Lawlor.
“Developers have had to find multiple subsidies to make deals work,” he says. “Over time, they figured out how to make the programs work together. Now, we’re going to do it.”
Developers will be able to go to one entity to access different financing programs. The move also attempts to cut costs in the face of a state budget crisis.
The consolidation involved the Division of Housing and Community Renewal and “nyhomes,” which included the State of New York Mortgage Agency and the New York Housing Finance Agency. Lawlor took over leadership of the agencies in April.
In unveiling the new organization, state officials said HCR will have three main units:
- Finance and Development will align all programs that fund the development of affordable housing, including low-income housing tax credits, tax-exempt and taxable bonds, single-family loans, and capital awards.
- Housing Preservation will include the programs that maintain and enhance the state’s portfolio of existing affordable housing. This includes the Office of Rent Administration, the Sec. 8 program, asset management, and the Weatherization Assistance Program.
- Community Renewal will include the programs geared toward community and economic development, job creation, and downtown revitalization. This includes the state Community Development Block Grant, Main Street, and Neighborhood Stabilization programs as well as the work done under the Affordable Housing Corp.
Gov. David Patterson announced the consolidation of numerous state agencies at the beginning of the year to reduce costs and preserve resources in the face of a $9 billion state budget deficit.
HCR has approximately 1,000 employees, with the largest team overseeing rent control in the state.
The restructuring did not result in any layoffs, according to Lawlor. Attrition and early retirements reduced the various agency staffs by about 25 percent in the last three years. The new structure aims to keep staffing and other costs down.
Lawlor says he expects other states to follow New York’s lead and look at consolidating different agencies.