An aerial view of Mineola in Nassau County in 2015. 

An aerial view of Mineola in Nassau County in 2015.  Credit: Coughlin

ALBANY — Looking to make a housing breakthrough, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday announced 20 communities have qualified to be first in line for a package of state-backed incentives — including Mineola.

The governor said the 20 locales are the first to be certified as “pro-housing,” a designation that means they can tap into a $650 million pot that combines several state development initiatives, such as the Downtown Redevelopment Initiative.

Hochul suffered a political defeat last year when she proposed to jump-start housing development by putting forward a plan that could have allowed the state to override local zoning.

She’s changing tactics this year to focus on incentives — a more carrot, less stick approach that she emphasized by waving a handful of leafy carrots at an Albany press conference.

“I have 600 million carrots on the table — $650 million for communities willing to lead, willing to step out and say we are pro-housing,” the governor said.

To qualify, localities submitted documentation showing housing stock had increased by 1% in the previous year or 3% in the previous three years. Alternately, communities could pass resolutions committing to those goals while submitting correlating housing and zoning data demonstrating they could reach the goals.

Money doesn’t begin to flow now to the certified communities, the Hochul administration said. Rather, when the state processes applications for one of eight discretionary funds — such as the Downtown Redevelopment Initiative or NY Main Street, a housing grant — the certified communities will have a leg up on competitors, putting them at “the front of the line,” an administration official said.

In addition to the 20 already certified, another 60 communities have applied, the governor said.

 “Everybody wants to be part of this and I believe that this is going to be a turning point for our state,” Hochul said.

Mineola Mayor Paul Pereira said the village has added more than 1,000 multifamily/apartment units over the last decade, bringing the village-wide total to more than 3,000. Plus, it has 700 more units “in the pipeline.”

 “This pro-housing designation validates what we've been doing,” Pereira said, adding it should encourage other Long Island communities: “I think that’s a message to my fellow mayors on Long Island — the water’s warm, come on in.”

 He said the village will “apply for everything we possibly can.”

 “We have infrastructure needs. We have water needs. We have parking needs. We have walkability needs. We have traffic needs,” the mayor said.

Hochul has sought to make housing growth a priority, saying the state needs to add 800,000 housing units over the next decade. Further, she wants to increase the stakes for communities to embrace “pro-housing” practices.

Currently, achieving that designation can move a community to the front of the line for applying for state discretionary funds. Hochul wants to take it a step farther by making the designation a requirement for applying — such a step would need approval from the State Legislature as part of New York's 2024-25 budget.

Hochul and lawmakers are in the beginning stages of budget negotiations; the deadline for adoption is April 1.

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