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Goodbye American Dream? New York’s Gov. Hochul Tries Again to Abolish the Suburbs

Posted on Friday, February 3, 2023
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by Shane Harris
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83 Comments

AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris

Following a fierce battle over a similar policy last year, suburban New Yorkers are once again up in arms after Governor Kathy Hochul announced a sweeping plan to usurp local control over zoning rules and radically rewrite housing policy during her State of the State Address last month. If Hochul’s proposals are enacted, New York will take the first steps toward following other liberal states in eliminating single-family zoning.

The news places added pressure on Republicans to develop a policy plan to save single-family neighborhoods while also finding a solution for skyrocketing housing costs.

Hochul’s plan, officially titled the “New York Housing Compact,” is comprised of several proposed laws that zero in on local zoning rules. In short, the Compact sets new housing production requirements for every city, town, and village in the state. Critically, however, if municipalities fail to meet those metrics – which many certainly will – the Compact authorizes the state government to overrule local authorities and authorize new housing projects instead.

A series of incentives and other new regulations outlined in the plan virtually guarantee that all of this new housing construction, whether it be approved by local governments or bureaucrats in Albany, will be high-rise apartments or multi-family units, rather than the single-family homes that have been a staple of the American Dream for generations.

For instance, so-called “affordable housing” – or subsidized, low-rent properties – will count double toward a locality’s housing goal, incentivizing the construction of multi-family dwellings rather than single-family homes. Hochul’s proposal also gives the state government the power to unilaterally suspend local zoning and planning authority in order to authorize the construction of apartment buildings and multi-family units anywhere, including in the middle of single-family neighborhoods.

Suburban leaders from both parties are already pushing back hard on the plan, much as they did one year ago when Hochul proposed a scheme to conduct an end-run around local zoning laws and allow single-family homes to be turned into multi-family residences. Amid bipartisan backlash, Hochul reversed course, but this latest effort appears to have more momentum in Albany, and was included as part of the state budget released on February 1. (It’s worth noting that Hochul herself owns a pair of condos in Buffalo and a house in Virginia, and the New York Governor’s Mansion sits on a 10-acre lot in downtown Albany.)

The New York Housing Compact is part of a broader push by Democrats throughout the country to eliminate single-family zoning in suburban areas. The left has repeatedly insisted that traditional neighborhoods are “racist,” despite evidence that suburbs are now the most racially diverse areas in America. Liberals have also targeted single-family zoning over supposed environmental concerns, suggesting that single-family homes are not “sustainable” enough for the left’s green agenda.

While Democrats have been agitating against single-family zoning for years – including with the Obama administration’s infamous Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule – their efforts have accelerated since Biden’s election in 2020, particularly in blue states. Far-left progressives in localities such as Portland and Minneapolis have abolished single-family zoning entirely. California effectively ended single-family zoning statewide in 2021. Even in states such as Virginia, which has a Republican governor and Republican-controlled House of Delegates, single-family neighborhoods are under assault.

The Biden administration has joined in the crusade to eliminate single-family zoning as well, with the Department of Housing and Urban Development calling for “zoning reform” and repeatedly proposing budget measures to encourage states to reduce the number of new single-family homes being built.

For Democrats, the political incentives to pack people into high-density, government-subsidized housing developments are clear: such a situation forces those living in “affordable housing” to depend on ever-expanding government programs Democrat politicians have long favored. Home ownership, meanwhile, makes people more independent and, as one study from Stanford University showed, more likely to vote in accordance with whatever will best protect their investment – in other words, for conservative policies.

In New York, the few Republican strongholds left are in areas with primarily single-family homes. If Democrats can use taxpayer dollars to build high-density housing units, particularly around public transit centers, as Hochul’s plan outlines, residents currently living in urban cores can more easily disperse outward – taking their far-left voting habits with them.

While Republicans are right to point out the shameless political opportunism underpinning Democrats’ housing policies, they should nonetheless recognize that housing unaffordability is a very real concern for millions of Americans, particularly in the younger generations. According to a YouGov poll conducted last year, 74% of American adults view homeownership as a hallmark of the American Dream, including 65% of millennials. But of the 45% who did not own a home, nearly two-thirds said they wanted to but could not afford it.

Digging into the numbers, it’s clear why. Between 2000 and 2021, the last year for which data is available, median household income in the United States increased from $66,000 to $70,000, or about 6%. In that same time period, the median sales price for a house increased from $172,900 to $423,600, or about 245%. Median sales prices shot up a further 10% in 2022.

While the causes for this drastic increase are many and complex, the fact remains that Democrats have identified a real problem, even if their solution – eliminating single-family zoning entirely and subsidizing high-density housing projects – does little to alleviate it and merely leaves Americans locked in a cycle of renting and reliance on government subsidies.

Republicans have an opportunity to step in and actually deliver the solutions that Americans want on single-family zoning and housing unaffordability. Former President Donald Trump raised the alarm about Democrats’ radical plan to abolish the suburbs in 2020, and other Republican leaders are beginning to follow his lead in highlighting the Democrat threat to single-family neighborhoods. During the Virginia gubernatorial election in 2021, a conservative group released a two-minute TV attack ad against Democrat nominee Terry McAuliffe highlighting his past support for ending single-family zoning, further showcasing how the issue can be a winning one for Republicans.

The next step is developing a plan to make homeownership more attainable for more people. If Republicans can succeed at this, they will likely find entire generations of voters eager to follow their lead and make their American Dream of owning a home a reality once again.

Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @Shane_Harris_.

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Jeanette
Jeanette
1 year ago

Those who put her in office should be angry with themselves. Elimination of the suburbs is another move to Socialism.

PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

Obama first floated the idea of doing away with all local zoning laws and essentially federalizing control of what can and will be built where some unaccountable government bureaucrat decides things will be built under the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. The pilot for the program was supposed to be Westchester County, New York. Fortunately, a federal judge found this to a massive over-reach of the Obama administration, so the Democrats scurried away to group and come back at a latter date from a different angle. Remember, the Democrats never give up and never, ever accept defeat. They just crawl back under their rocks and plan how to accomplish the very same policy from a different perspective.

Well this proposal from Governor Hochul is that follow-up attack to accomplish essentially the same thing. The difference being it isn’t the federal government trying to do away with State’s Rights to control local zoning, but rather now the state itself is trying to accomplish the very same thing. Of course Governor Hochul will be taking orders from DNC leadership in Washington, D.C. every step of the way, so what she is does will follow the previous Obama era blueprint in terms of policy implementation. If this wholesale stripping of property rights is allowed to be done in New York State, I guarantee you that every Blue State Governor will quickly follow suit with this exact same thing in their states.

By the way, the author is coming at this from the wrong angle. This isn’t about so-called affordable housing, which is a major issue in most Blue states because of excessive regulations and taxation that forces up the cost of all housing in their states. Rather it’s about eliminating real estate property rights in general. The Democrats want to force the American population into sprawling, government owned or government controlled housing, in order to control where you can go and what you can do with your lives. Constructing huge government housing projects, within their planned mega cities, eliminates the ability to own automobiles of any type. Things like multi-story parking garages simply won’t be zoned to be built, as the state would deem such facilities a waste of space and not grant zoning approval for any to be built. Thus reducing the mobility of the population to whatever mass transit is locally available. The public becomes restricted to the limited options of getting about in any given city. It’s all about eliminating freedom of movement and the ability to control where you can go on any given day. It’s not about Republicans running around in circles trying to cobble together so-called affordable housing plans to out do the inane promises of the Democrats, who are only using so-called affordable housing as a pretense for their true objectives. That would just be putting the Republicans on the defensive by trying to fight the completely wrong issue.

Ron Harmon
Ron Harmon
1 year ago

Democrats Suck

R W
R W
1 year ago

Another liberal idea to destroy this country.

Sharon Ormsby
Sharon Ormsby
1 year ago

Every American wants a home of their very own and that includes those who live in subsidized housing. Get out there and let them know what she is planning and they will revolt!

BACKWOODS
BACKWOODS
1 year ago

Our forefathers would be dragging these commies to the Gallows.

John Riley
John Riley
1 year ago

Living the 1984 nightmare. Stackem, rackem and trackem.

Steve
Steve
1 year ago

Time for another flush state . Don’t know why decent people even live in these cesspools. Should have happened long before the Whaun hit and 25,000 Americans would still be alive then .

William C Smith
William C Smith
1 year ago

Another B.F. Skinner experiment? New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle are perfect laboratories in which to conduct these trial runs to herd all subjects into close proximity and to develop control groups to impose theiir social policies on the larger masses. Voters still have the franchise. They should pay attention to the political freaks they have elected and turn them out of office. Suburban life should not be a “dream.” It should be a viable alternative. Everyone should do their homework and only buy domestically produced products.

Mike S
Mike S
1 year ago

What a thoroughly disgusting and abhorrent idea. Imagine big brother walking into your community deciding what can be built and where in your neighborhood. Then watch property values shutter at the prospect of a future slum being built practically in your backyard. When you suddenly question and demand an answer from a local official, they tell you there’s nothing they can do to prevent it. It’s a state law that is forcing this on the local community. In other words, the community has no rights. In this country founded on rights, you find you have NONE! I wonder how the signers of the Declaration of Independence would respond.

Mary
Mary
1 year ago

This is a obama push that continues. An idea that would help is to promote merit. If you do not work, you do not eat. Put another way – is to reduce heavy taxation and eliminate welfare. Put the fathers back in charge of their families. But, than, we would not need Hochul or any other democrat idea. If you must build the high density units, build them on Soros’ property. He lives in New York.

phoenix
phoenix
1 year ago

lol. How many divisions does hochl have to enforce her edits.

Sounds like something that should be clearly ignored.

Philip Hammersley
Philip Hammersley
1 year ago

AS usual, DIMMs want to make things “equal” (which they now call “equity”) by LOWERING the people at the top rather than RAISING those at the bottom. They have already ruined our schools using this same mindset!

PIDL
PIDL
1 year ago

It is quite clear that big companies are buying up as many homes as they can to rent them out. I think they have pushed home ownership beyond the capability of many people. By giving those who could not afford to pay for a house loans to buy them, they made a ripe market for these vampires sucking the life out of America. My son and daughter put their homes up for sale in Indianapolis suburs and sold them almost immediately to these rental home companies. They are killing the suburbs there too.

Rik
Rik
1 year ago

Affordable Housing like Affirmative Action will do the EXACT OPPOSITE in “helping” the Middle Class! . . . It’s really designed to eliminate the Middle Class so that there is really ONLY 2 CLASSES, RICH and POOR!

Tom
Tom
1 year ago

More like Plans by new world people

Thomas F. Olszewski
Thomas F. Olszewski
1 year ago

Thank God I took my family out of that hell hole. Good luck ny you’ll get screwed and like it so shut up.

Donald Warner
Donald Warner
1 year ago

I’ve often wondered how many families would fit into the governors mansion and the White House.

Paul
Paul
1 year ago

More government overeach!! In this shining example is one aupposed to believe that these new mega-home buidings will not become anything more than drug and crime infested hell holes??

Rod Noll
Rod Noll
1 year ago

How in the world did the State of New York re-elect this women ? Clearly, Lee Zeldin was the obvious choice !

Jim
Jim
1 year ago

The problem is simple. America is severely overpopulated. For the long term survival of the United States our natural resources will support a population of about 200,000,000. We have about 150,000,000 too many people in America. Solution is simple lock up the southern border, stop all immigration for perhaps 10 years. When population is lower, houses are cheaper, living is less expensive and quality of life goes up dramatically. The “money interests” in America are greedy and think increased population will be good (for their wallets) but will destroy America. America is/was a wonderful country 70 years ago with much lower population.

Anthony
Anthony
1 year ago

It will get to the point that all our freedoms of choice will be eliminated. Living in a project like a HUD building is horrible, between the crime a filth its not a pleasant experience. It’s time to stand up to her she needs to be removed from office.

anna hubert
anna hubert
1 year ago

Why not fill the mansions on Nantucket or Beverly Hills they have room and the owners are so compassionate they feel our pain I am sure Hilary would be thrilled to have her house filled with women and children

Gloria
Gloria
1 year ago

Is Hochul going to live in one of those high-rise multi-family apartments? If it’s good enough for the ones she is suppose to take care of – is she ready to lead by example? Or just to be an oligarch? She is perfectly following the dictates of Soros who put her in that position

mytake
mytake
1 year ago

Any control moved to the state is a bad idea. Period!

Jack L
Jack L
1 year ago

Yet another in the ever growing list of reason I am moving OUT of this God forsaken insanely governed state. It’s a shame that “politicians”, especially a so called governor turned this once beautiful state into a slum for criminals. I am taking her advice and moving South. I don’t have the “New York Values” she wants. I have REAL values!

Skeeter Bug
Skeeter Bug
1 year ago

We are in such trouble under the direction of these radical left non-thinkers!! They want us in dwellings like China. And when the next pandemic soon arrives the government can choose to lock citizens in the dwellings to starve and/or freeze and die. I pray people are waking up to be aware of what the “master” plan is from our left communist leaders. Their purpose is to keep us all hating and fighting each other. They can take advantage of us and have total control. Is Kathy Houchel going to surrender her single family dwelling, is Biden???

James P.
James P.
1 year ago

“You’ll get nothing, AND LIKE IT!”

porterv
porterv
1 year ago

Soylent green is people!

GBA
GBA
1 year ago

There goes the neighborhood.

FedUp
FedUp
1 year ago

You can bet that no subsidized housing will EVER appear anywhere near Hochul’s house or any member of the board that mandates the zoning.

SAMSON
SAMSON
1 year ago

You guys in NY elected her [ but I think they cheated and lied just like the rest] now suffer and put up with her stupid idea’s. When are you people going to learn to get rid of the stinking democrats. You are already living under pharaoh and they will just keep taking until there is nothing left. People are brainwashed into thinking the life in these blue states is normal and I can speak for that personally. We moved to Tennessee in November of 2020 from Pennsylvania [that is not near as draconian as New York] and since we have lived here you do not realize how many freedoms you did not have until your here for a while. just to say one out of 100 things is our real estate tax is 1/10 what it was in PA [not to mention the weather is 10x better] so it is an even bigger gap for NY and that is in a newer subdivision with 1-5 acre lots. We love it here and would not think twice about moving back. We need to get GOD back in our lives!

Jackie
Jackie
1 year ago

Liberals, Democrats and the young who are too impressionable to know any better are going to make this country unliveable!! I wish these government people would take a break from finding things and ways to screw up our lives!! Smaller government, fewer politicians, fewer executive orders, fewer laws, more freedom, more liberties, less corruption, less lying, less collusion…..

John
John
1 year ago

She is a horse’s …, She hails from Orchard Park! One of the most affluent suburbs in New York State.
It’s sad that people such as her have ANY say in how the “American Dream”, is determined. Remember people in the Old Country rose up after so much abuse was turned their way. ) Also she has no working knowledge of Planning, Zoning,etc.etc. It’s the Underlings that really run the Hen House.

Adonis
Adonis
1 year ago

So NYS being #1 State in out migration doesn’t register with Hochul yet. Hoping for the day when no one is left except welfare dependent Democrats?

Jim
Jim
1 year ago

Here’s the major problem. These political clowns, THEY ARE INSANE CONTROL FREAKS, can be bought for a soros dime, are held harmless when destroying our country. We need to find a way to make any “politician” who would try to destroy our freedoms, quality of living or our great country, pay a significant penalty. All these unAmerican jerks need to be dealt with harshly. Never take a knife to a gun fight.

darius medea
darius medea
1 year ago

WHAT? Another democratic “nutjob” on the loose. Shame on those who voted for her

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
1 year ago

What N.Y. needs is a lot of Red Neck Trailor Paris. Kyle L.

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
1 year ago

Its a shame some people has just gotta run other peoples lives. Kyle L.

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
1 year ago

To Joco. Well said. Kyle L.

Tim Toroian
Tim Toroian
1 year ago

Go to the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence for a definition and remedy. They want to make everything a ghetto in the true sense of the word as the Germans did in WWII Poland and for the same reason, total control. That is what the national Socialist Democrats want. Equity is their word for communism. I like the old “All in The Family” episode where Mike and Gloria were going to visit friends in a commune. Archie makes a comment about communists. Mike brilliantly says just because they live in a commune doesn’t mean they are communists to which Archie replies, Commune-IST. Unfortunately, Rob Reiner is still the same “Meathead”.

James P.
James P.
1 year ago

The I suggest that Dingy Governor move into a Housing Project first. Let her set the example. If not…Stifle you Marxist-bot.

David
David
1 year ago

She is trying to recreate the vote farms of the past.

Charmaine
Charmaine
1 year ago

The very first project needs to go on the property adjacent to hers in orchard park. Then next to the Biden beach house, then on to Martha’s Vineyard next to the obama’s. Then on to chuck shumers place etc. then on to Beverly Hills for them to enjoy. After that the suburbs won’t have to worry because the jerks in those places won’t let it go forward. So it should be “You First”!! And then we’ll think about it.

Papayek
Papayek
1 year ago

Basic Communism. Democrats always destroy all that is good and decent.

Bruce
Bruce
1 year ago

I believe Rush Limbaugh [& others] warned America about this leftist policy & its advance if Biden took office; the dem-Marxists are hell bent on destroying the USA on all fronts. I believe we are in danger & need to take a stand against them.

tempus
tempus
1 year ago

Building codes are one of the reasons for skyrocketing housing costs. Building codes often result in larger houses costing less per square foot than smaller houses.

Craig
Craig
1 year ago

THIS IS WHT YOU DON’T “VOTE STUPID”!!

caseyp
caseyp
1 year ago

While tries to abolish suburbs she certainly is not going to want any of “them” living in her neighborhood.

Mr Tigerbob
Mr Tigerbob
1 year ago

Get rid of the illegals in this country and there will not be a housing shortage.

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