Gov. Kathy Hochul’s recent decision to step back from pursuing housing construction and zoning mandates, opting instead for an incentive-based approach, underscores the political and practical complexities of housing policy in suburban areas like Long Island.
Despite Hochul’s nuanced approach, a contingent of state legislators, predominantly based in New York City, have signaled their intent to push for so-called “good cause eviction.” This policy could create housing shortages, impose financial burdens, and disrupt local economies. Since good cause eviction has particularly severe consequences for college towns and their student populations, Long Island’s leaders in higher education and government must stand united against this policy in any statewide housing discussions.
Good cause eviction is a rent-control scheme intentionally misnamed by its supporters that would impose the city’s broken rent laws statewide. This includes the offensive aspect of rent-stabilized leases not being means-tested, and it would require mandatory lease renewals and would cap rents — income needed to maintain buildings — at artificially low levels. By devaluing every rental property in New York that isn’t owner-occupied, good cause eviction would force property tax increases on single-family homes to make up government budget shortfalls.
The negative impact good cause eviction would have on Long Island is well-documented, and fortunately, state legislators have rejected the proposal for five consecutive years. However, the stubborn insistence of its proponents is a continued source of concern.
Long Island is home to numerous public and private colleges and universities that play a significant role in the lives of surrounding towns and villages. Enrollment figures and Newsday reporting show that tens of thousands of college students depend on off-campus housing on Long Island. Communities and schools have benefited from positive relationships between student communities and local housing providers, which have efficiently catered to the flexible needs of the student population for decades. Good cause eviction, if implemented, would pose a significant threat to these well-established housing ecosystems.
The core problem with good cause eviction for college towns is its blatant disregard for the unique nature of student housing. Student housing markets are inherently dynamic, characterized by a constant cycle of students leasing properties for short durations, typically one to two years. The policy’s provision for mandatory lease renewals could severely disrupt this cycle. It could lead to situations where graduates occupy housing meant for current students, hampering the natural turnover necessary for universities to maintain and grow enrollment figures. Owners would essentially lose control over their own properties, eliminating essential housing options for students who rely on off-campus accommodation.
This disruption in the student housing market would exacerbate existing challenges to finding affordable off-campus housing on Long Island, leading to a campus housing crisis and deterring prospective students, impacting both enrollment and institutional finances.
This policy’s impact would also ripple through local economies. The symbiotic relationship between students and local businesses is crucial to the vitality of Long Island’s college towns. Disruptions in student housing could reduce local spending, hurting businesses and employment and altering the economic fabric of these communities.
Such effects would not be confined to Long Island but could be felt in similar communities across New York State.
It is crucial for Long Island’s leaders in higher education and government to publicly voice their opposition to good cause eviction. A united stance against this policy is vital for the economic well-being of our local communities.
n THIS GUEST ESSAY reflects the views of Ann Korchak, a Seaford resident, rental property owner and board president of the nonprofit Small Property Owners of New York.
This guest essay reflects the views of Ann Korchak, a Seaford resident, rental property owner and board president of the nonprofit Small Property Owners of New York.