Last week, the City of Binghamton was one of 20 municipalities in New York state designated as a pro-housing community by Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration.

The designation was announced by the Hochul at a roundtable convened last week with representatives from many of the municipalities receiving the designation. It gives Binghamton and other chosen cities priority in receiving a portion of the $650 million available for residential development. The Village of Johnson City, which neighbors Binghamton, was also awarded the designation.

“These 20 communities — and more than 60 others who have started their applications — are taking a stand to build a better, more prosperous and more affordable future for New York [state],” Hochul said at the roundtable. “The only way to solve the housing crisis is to build hundreds of thousands of new homes, and through the Pro-Housing Communities Program, my administration is continuing to put its full-fledged support, including up to $650 million, behind communities that are serious about housing growth.”

The Pro-Housing Community Program, designed to “reward local governments that are working hard to address New York’s housing crisis,” was created by Hochul through an executive order last July. Kraham described the designation’s potential to positively impact Binghamton’s housing crisis by creating more development opportunities.

“So on a very basic level that designation was a priority for the City of Binghamton for certain state discretionary funding,” Kraham said. “[Programs] that are very beneficial for community revitalization include the Downtown Revitalization Initiative [(DRI)], restoring New York and other Empire State Development in Department of State funding programs.”

The DRI, launched in 2016 and led by New York’s Department of State, was launched to strengthen and revitalize downtown areas in various communities across New York. Johnson City received $10 million in state funding last year.

In response to the announcement, a member of the UniverCity Tenants Union, a group established by the Stakeholders of Broome County, emphasized the importance of knowing what projects increased state funding will go toward.

“Having priority status for state funding is great, but where are these funds going to do?” they wrote. “Is the city improving our housing stock or building sky-high apartment complexes? Building and prioritizing affordable housing over market-rate housing will do better in a community where students price residents out of the market.”

Kraham, in November, announced plans for a $40 million workforce housing project in Binghamton’s First Ward. The project, which will hold 102 units ranging from $700-$1000 per month in rent, will be targeted at families earning between $40,000 and $60,000 per year.

In July 2022, Kraham proposed an ordinance to “curb student housing,” which was passed by Binghamton’s City Council in October 2022. The law rezoned parts of Binghamton’s West Side, prohibiting student rentals in single-family areas. It also specified that groups of unrelated students do not constitute a family.

He alluded to the intangible benefits of the state’s announcement.

“So that’s, you know, the blocking and tackling of what this does, but on a broader level what it is a signal to residents in the city of potential housing developers, other municipalities and folks in government that Binghamton is taking the front seat as it relates to housing,” Kraham said.