A New Way To Lower Housing Construction Costs

LI Construction Law does not own this content. This content was created by Iohud, and was published on June 7, 2021.

To grasp just how untenable New York’s housing situation truly is, consider this statistic: A recent survey found a stunning 40% of adults in the Empire State find it difficult to pay normal household expenses, among the highest percentage reported across the nation.

This crisis has been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, but it was also a long time coming. Millions of New Yorkers have struggled for years with exceptionally high housing costs, spending between 30% and 50% of their income on rent, while thousands more cannot afford a home at all.

A disproportionate number of these residents are New Yorkers of color, which means this crisis, along with posing a direct threat to our economic well-being, is standing in the way of the diverse and equal society New Yorkers want and deserve. Overcoming a challenge of this magnitude requires creative vision, bold leadership and a willingness to consider out-of-the-box solutions. It also means being smart and thoughtful about the resources we commit to addressing it and ensuring those resources are being utilized as efficiently as possible.

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The state Legislature recently took an important step in that direction when it passed a bill to study and make recommendations to curb rising insurance costs for affordable and supportive housing projects. It is now up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign it into law, and we encourage him to do so as soon as possible.

The affordable and supportive housing community has seen progressively increasing premiums on insurance for new developments — a rise that has accelerated precipitously over the past two years. The issue is particularly acute in low-income areas, where such housing is needed most.

New York is already one of the most expensive markets in the country for new residential construction. That is why new affordable and supportive housing developments rely heavily on public investment to offer lower rent and much-needed services for the chronically homeless. Rising insurance rates drive costs up still further, and, in the process, results in fewer units that are built and maintained. Given the state of New York’s housing crisis, that is unconscionable.

This study called for in this new legislation will get to the bottom of that phenomenon. The resulting data will provide the state, its lawmakers, and the industry with the facts necessary to understand why rates are rising and help us chart a better path forward. It marks the start of an important process, and should be the first of many steps New York takes to lower costs for the construction of affordable and supportive homes.

The fact is that insurance premiums for affordable and supportive housing are rising around the nation. This important measure will set New York apart from the pack in tackling this intractable problem and further establish the Empire State as a forward-thinking leader on housing issues.

The past year has shown us that housing is indeed critical to our safety, security and overall economic health. New Yorkers deserve to live in an affordable state that provides them with secure housing and, if they needed, supportive services to ensure their success. This legislation will bring us closer to realizing that goal. It is a common-sense proposal we all should support.

Jolie Milstein is the president and CEO of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing. Laura Mascuch is the executive director of the Supportive Housing Network of New York.

John Caravella Esq., is a construction attorney and formerly practicing project architect at The Law Office of John Caravella, P.C., representing architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors, and owners in all phases of contract preparation, litigation, and arbitration across New York and Florida. He also serves as an arbitrator to the American Arbitration Association Construction Industry Panel. Mr. Caravella can be reached by email: John@LIConstructionLaw.com or (631) 608-1346.

This is a general information article and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. The content above has been edited for conciseness and additional relevant points are omitted for space constraints. Readers are encouraged to seek counsel from a construction lawyer who has experience with Long Island construction law for advice on a particular circumstance.

LI Construction Law does not own this content. This content was created by Iohud, and was published on June 7, 2021.