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NEW YORK CITY-Gov. Eliot Spitzer visited the Rheingold Houses in Bushwick, Brooklyn, on Sunday to highlight steps his administration is taking to increase affordable and supportive housing throughout New York. Spitzer’s $400-million Housing Opportunity Fund was revealed during the State of the State address last week.

The proposal is part of a $1.5-billion infrastructure and economic development plan to enhance economic growth and opportunity across the state. Assemblyman Vito Lopez, chair of the Assembly Housing Committee, explains in a prepared statement that the program is the first of its kind in the state and “will go a long way towards helping us get out of the affordable housing crisis we’re currently in.”

The fund, Spitzer explained in the Sunday conference, “will build homes for the men and women who teach our kids and police our streets. This fund will also build supportive housing that enables persons with disabilities and others with special needs to live independently.”

Priscilla Almodovar, president and CEO of the State Housing Finance Agency, notes that the fund will allow “us to build on our success during the past year and work collaboratively with our partners in the private and nonprofit sector and in the Legislature to create much needed affordable housing.” Bernie Carr, executive director of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing, adds that “this historic investment in affordable housing is good for Upstate cities in need of revitalization and good for Downstate communities that have been adversely affected by skyrocketing housing costs.”

The issue of affordable housing has especially been on the minds of government officials towards the end of 2007. In December, Spitzer revealed that more than 800 affordable housing units will be constructed or renovated across New York State through the financing of $43.9 million from two state housing agencies. Also in December, Spitzer spoke at the New York Housing Conference and National Housing Conference 34th Annual Awards Luncheon and explained to the more than 1,300 attendees the importance of supporting affordable housing in the state budget to keep the American dream alive, as GlobeSt.com reported. In November, Spitzer revealed a $510-million finance approval for the construction and renovation of 1,182 affordable housing units across the state.

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