A Siena poll found that 45% of voters statewide support Gov. Kathy Hochul's housing plan while 37% oppose it. Ninety percent of voters said affordable housing is a serious problem. NewsdayTV's Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Anthony Florio; File Footage; Siena Research Institute

ALBANY — New York voters say the need to make housing more affordable is as serious a problem as crime both statewide and within their communities, according to a poll released Monday.

The Siena College Research Institute poll said 90% of voters polled believe affordable housing is a serious concern statewide. That compares with 92% who said crime was a serious problem.

The poll also found 83% of voters said affordable housing is a serious problem in their community. By comparison, 63% of voters said crime was a serious problem in their community.

The rise in concern over the need for affordable housing comes as Gov. Kathy Hochul has made the issue a top goal in her state budget. The budget is being negotiated now with legislative leaders and is due by Saturday.

Hochul proposes that the state have the power to overrule local zoning to approve apartment and home construction if the plans are rejected by local zoning or local officials. The state could approve the projects as long as they don’t threaten public safety.

Hochul’s proposal also provides more than $250 million statewide for incentives to local governments to help pay for infrastructure such as water and sewer lines and roads that may be needed with additional housing.

Independent researchers, including the New York University Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Planning, say states must have the final say over local governments to significantly increase housing in a community.

Hochul’s plan is to increase the housing stock by 3% over the next three years. On Long Island, Hochul has set a target of 38,218 new housing units between 2023 and 2025. In comparison with the 3% growth target, she said, Long Island only increased housing by 0.56% from 2018 to 2019.

The Democratic majorities of the Senate and Assembly as well as Republicans reject Hochul’s proposal to empower the state to overrule their local governments, saying they need the final say to protect the character of their neighborhoods. Instead, the Senate and Assembly support providing $500 million in incentives to local governments to approve more housing.

Voters in the Siena poll provide some support for each approach.

“By a narrow 45-37% plurality, voters support mandates on municipalities to increase their housing supplies, including majority support from Democrats and plurality support from independents,” said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg. “By a larger 54-32% margin, voters support providing incentives to municipalities for increasing their housing supply."

When asked to weigh one approach against the other, 48% supported incentives compared with 15% who prefer mandates and 15% who want both approaches.

In other major issues being negotiated for the state budget, the poll found:

  • 72% of voters polled support giving judges more discretion in setting bail. But the poll didn’t ask about Hochul’s specific proposal to remove a provision that says judges should impose the ‘least restrictive’ option for ensuring a defendant returns for a court date.
  • 76% of voters support increasing the income taxes of New Yorkers making $5 million or more, which is supported by the Legislature and opposed by Hochul.
  • 58% support banning flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes, as part of Hochul’s plan to increase the cigarette tax by $1 per pack to reduce smoking.

The poll questioned 802 registered voters from March 19 to Wednesday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.

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