Siting Affordable and Supportive Housing Programs

Published on November 17th, 2011


Providers of affordable and supportive housing programs have met resistance to the siting of these programs for people with special needs, whether they are homeless, mentally ill, chemically dependent, low income individuals and families, seniors or persons with chronic HIV.  The New York State Division of Housing has begun an educational campaign that emphasizes what good neighbors supportive housing residents can be.  More needs to be done to encourage acceptance of these much needed programs.

Conference Position

The Catholic Conference supports establishment of a coordinated interagency program to encourage community support for siting affordable and supportive housing programs to be carried out through comprehensive planning, zoning and other land use provisions and strategies.


Affordable housing is an issue affecting every diocese in New York State.  In some areas of the state, communities experiencing some of the “rising tide” of economic development have seen the rental and purchase costs of housing increase beyond the means of seniors, working families and those of low income.  At the same time, communities that have not experienced any significant economic development are finding that property owners cannot maintain and repair their properties because they do not have the necessary resources.  Both of these contradictory situations have resulted in inadequate numbers of affordable, quality rental and ownership properties.

Seniors, people living with disabilities, working families, low-income families, formerly homeless people, developmentally disabled adults, those diverted from serving time in correctional facilities as well as those released from correctional facilities, middle class families – all are finding it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing.  Further, affordable housing developed for individuals and families with special needs, e.g. mental illness, criminal justice involvement, homelessness, must include supportive services. These services are not an “extra.”  Without such supports, many of these individuals and families will be unable to maintain their housing.

While the problem continues to affect the “special populations” of people traditionally in need of support, the additional emerging issue is that working couples and families, seniors, and young people aging out of the foster care system are unable to find adequate, affordable housing.

Housing development funds and programs are managed by several different state agencies.  The programs cover a variety of strategies from grant funding to tax credit investment.   The State has recognized this diversity and complexity and the challenges posed to the development of these programs because they are administered in several agencies by encouraging more interagency cooperation in budgeting, application processes and priority setting.

Community opposition is becoming an increasingly significant barrier to the timely development of this much needed housing. The State Office for the Aging and the Department of State are in the process of developing a manual for ‘aging friendly’ community land use regulation.  But the need for such State leadership goes beyond the need for “aging friendly” zoning and land use policies and programs.  The State must take a more active leadership role in addressing community opposition, educating communities, and providing tools for communities so they can comprehensively plan for a fully inclusive community.  Further, the State should explore the need for legislation to ease the siting of affordable and supportive housing including reviewing the success of and need for expansion of the “Padavan Law” process in easing the siting of mental hygiene programs in the community.  Such a comprehensive and coordinated approach at the state level is needed if we are to meet the housing needs of these diverse populations.

You can download this document, Siting Affordable and Supportive Housing Progams, in PDF form.