My view

Opposing the proposed Faith-Based Affordable Housing Act 

Posted 5/1/24

What follows is a letter written to NY Gov. Kathy Hochul. It is slightly edited.

The Association of Supervisors of Sullivan County voted unanimously on April 3, 2024 to send this letter to you …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in
My view

Opposing the proposed Faith-Based Affordable Housing Act 


What follows is a letter written to NY Gov. Kathy Hochul. It is slightly edited.

The Association of Supervisors of Sullivan County voted unanimously on April 3, 2024 to send this letter to you strongly opposing the proposed Faith-Based Affordable Housing Act. 

As elected officials and citizens of New York State, we strongly oppose all laws in place or proposed (such as this one) that strip local authorities of Home Rule as defined in Article IX, Sec 2 of the Constitution of the State of New York. 

We understand that there may be a lack of affordable housing in NYS, especially in NYC; however, we are most concerned about the environmental impact. It is apparent that the people who wrote this bill have no concept of how its passage would affect the rural areas of the state (like Sullivan County) as they are proposing “generally 30 dwelling units per acre for small municipalities with less than 50,000 people,” and “full environmental reviews under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) would not be required so long as the landowner submits the following certifications: that a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) has been completed, that soil and water testing has been completed pursuant to Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) standards, and that a qualified environmental professional attests that the building will not violate state wetland or drinking water laws.” 

This proposed law eviscerates adherence to the current New York State Environmental Quality Review Act. 

This proposal is unsustainable for our rural area. How do small municipalities like ours provide services to a large high-density development of 30 dwelling units per acre? A 10-acre parcel could result in 300 dwelling units, and this could grow exponentially from there, resulting in a huge influx of residents in need of services. 

That is not just one small development. Services such as water, sewer, fire, ambulance, schools, roads and transportation, and refuse hauling, would all need to be upgraded. Our small towns and villages are not prepared at all for such massive developments. It would be impossible as well as cost-prohibitive for our towns and villages to build the infrastructure required to support this number of new residents. We would have no protection against the loss of air and water quality and the additional burdens on public services. 

What about the protection of our open spaces? We are not just talking about a few little buildings here. We are talking about a growing population of people changing the nature of our surroundings including clear-cutting of forests, littering, less habitat for indigenous species of plants and animals, an impact on agriculture, and huge increases in traffic. 

Additionally, Sullivan County cherishes its natural environment, which is essential to support the substantial and still growing tourism industry. 

Meanwhile, New York State’s population is shrinking. This “urban sprawl” due to overpriced housing in the metropolitan area should not become a burden for small towns and villages in the rest of the state. 

Sullivan County has also been a huge agricultural producer for generations, and particularly since the pandemic, it is imperative that we do everything that we can to protect our nation’s food supply. Allowing the amount of development that would be possible with this type of legislation would negatively affect that! 

We urge you instead, as governor, to help support existing local zoning laws rather than allowing rules that override our local zoning laws, such as the one proposed here. Local municipalities understand the needs of their current and future residents best and are perfectly capable of creating the conditions that support appropriate housing opportunities. 


Daniel Sturm, President, Sullivan County Association of Supervisors; Bethel Supervisor Daniel Sturm; Callicoon Supervisor Tom Bose; Cochecton Supervisor Gary Maas; Delaware Supervisor Scott Dubois; Forestburgh Supervisor Dan Hogue; Fremont Supervisor Brian Brustman; Highland Supervisor John Pizzolato; Liberty Supervisor Frank DeMayo; Lumberland Supervisor Suzanne Edzenga; Mamakating Supervisor Michael Robbins; Neversink Supervisor Chris Matthews; Rockland Supervisor Robert Eggleton; and Thompson Supervisor Bill Rieber.

The letter was cc’d to multiple state and local officials.

my view, Association of Supervisors of Sullivan County, NY Gov. Kathy Hochul


3 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • Joannep

    Why don't we see the Tusten Town Supervisor Ben Johnson's, signature on this letter? This should be a huge issue for the entire region. It is disheartening to think that our own Tusten Supervisor is in favor of this proposed legislation, which would be a disaster on so many levels. Can you imagine how our area would look with 30 houses per acre of property? Can you imagine the stress on our services--police, fire, ambulance, water, traffic, roads---the list goes on and on. So, Supervisor Johnson, why didn't you offer your support, Tusten's support, to this letter??

    Sunday, May 5 Report this

  • stephenstuart.2000

    I am profoundly saddened as I read the Association of Supervisors of Sullivan County’s letter to Governor Hochul regarding Assembly Bill A8386A, the Faith Based Affordable Housing Act.

    What I read in their “My View” is an irrational misunderstanding of the text of this proposed law.. trying to persuade and rule through misinformed fear, using fear based rhetoric of clear cutting our forests and destroying our air and water quality, desperately trying to maintain a patriarchal status quo that disavows those who are less fortunate than they are. I am disappointed that these “leaders” choose to disparage a law that is designed to help alleviate an incredible humanitarian crisis that we face in Sullivan County.

    Are you really saying that we, as a County, have no room in our hearts to provide an avenue for the provision of safe, healthy shelter (one of humanity’s basic needs)?

    If the Supervisors had taken the time to read the text of the proposed law, They would see that this proposed law defines “covered sites” as urban areas defined and designated by the US Census Bureau.

    There are just two such areas in Sullivan County that are defined as urban areas.

    The Supervisors are sadly mistaken and fearful about. the intent of this proposed law.

    This is an opportunity to allow for a religious organization to develop safe, affordable housing in our county for families who, just like us, want a safe home in which to raise their children but do not have the same privilege as we do. do you really believe that a faith based movement to provide safe, affordable housing is so heinous? Can you imagine a Quaker, Methodist, Unitarian Universalist, Jewish, Muslim (the possibilities of faith based programs is amazing) program to provide for a basic human need? Does that really have to be so scary for you?

    I encourage each of you to read and understand the full text of this proposed law, Please do not try to trade on your fear in a misguided attempt to deny safe housing to families who have not been afforded our privilege.

    And to address your questions, Joannep, perhaps Tusten Supervisor Ben Johnson is the only Supervisor in Sullivan County who will not trade on fear to keep people down.

    Sunday, May 19 Report this

  • Joannep

    You know Stephen, you're right. I didn't research it carefully enough. I think I was conflating it with NYC's "city of yes" zoning proposal, and didn't realize that the NYS bill was for urban areas, which clearly we are not. After reading the bill I see it strongly encourages responsible, clean development, maintaining trees, etc. I remember several years ago, the Sandy Ground Society, which is a community that was founded by free African Americans in 1828 with a thriving oyster farming tradition, made up of many ancestors of the original founders, wanted to develop the land around their church, the Rossville AME church in Rossville, on Staten Island, NY for a senior community and the local opposition was fierce. It would have offered Sandy Ground's aging members a way to stay in their historic community and add much needed funds for the church and community maintenance. The city of NY actually down-zoned the entire area to prevent this needed development. A bill like this one would have let this project move forward.

    So again, Stephen you are right, I am wrong, and should READ things before hopping on my soapbox! Thank you for urging us all to look more carefully, and to read with a critical eye!

    Monday, May 20 Report this