As house prices rise, making housing unaffordable to many, governors in Colorado, Massachusetts and New York are recognizing that they must play an important role in keeping up with demand.
State governors need to take action to increase the housing stock in their states.
A few initiatives to increase Colorado’s housing supply were outlined in Colorado Governor Jared Polis’ second inaugural address, which took place on January 10. Although the state’s population has grown by 15% between 2010 and 2020, homebuilding activity has decreased by almost 40%. Demand for housing outpaced supply, resulting in higher rents and home prices.
As he spoke, Governor Polis acknowledged that the housing shortage should be addressed “now,” while relating it to other issues that are of concern to Coloradans. It has been said that housing policy is climate policy. The housing policy is an economic policy. Transportation policy is housing policy. There is a connection between housing policy and water policy. During his speech, Polis emphasized that housing policy is a public health and equity issue.
Two thousand miles eastward, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healy was sworn in just days before Governor Polis was sworn in. As she noted in her inaugural address, the bay state had fallen behind in providing housing to its citizens. There is a demand for housing here,” she said. We simply do not have enough housing to control the cost of housing. Building more places to live and making sure those homes are affordable are the keys to making Massachusetts a home for all.”
Governor Healy emphasized affordable housing preservation, zoning reform, and building more housing near transit hubs in her speech, a point shared by Governor Polis as well. Governor Healy went further, vowing to create a Secretary of Housing in Massachusetts within the first 100 days of her term. As part of its mandate, the new office will work across government “to improve connections between housing, public safety, and transportation.”
The first woman to be elected as governor of New York was sworn in as Kathy Hochul (she took over the governorship when Andrew Cuomo stepped down). Most renters in New York pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent, just like in Colorado and Massachusetts, despite the fact that New York has more rent-controlled and public housing units than any other state. As part of her State of the State address, Governor Hochul outlined a realistic but ambitious plan to tackle the housing crisis.
As part of Hochul’s “New York Housing Compact,” up to 800,000 new housing units could be built throughout the state over the next decade. Every city, town, and village in New York would be required to set three-year housing production goals. Local governments could lose their authority to deny housing projects if they fail to meet their housing goals, a powerful incentive to reform zoning codes to allow more new construction.
Seeing all three governors in these housing-starved states emphasize the need for more development is encouraging. The data clearly demonstrates that the best way to address affordability issues is to address the imbalance between supply and demand for housing, despite the efforts of some lawmakers in Colorado and Massachusetts to impose rent controls – and those in New York to expand them.