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Cuomo Announces Resignation As Real Estate Backs His Replacement

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on March 9, 2021

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who raised hundreds of thousands from the real estate industry for his re-election campaign in the past six months, is resigning as the chief executive of New York State.

He made the surprise announcement Tuesday morning, a week after New York Attorney General Letitia James released the results of her investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct, finding Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women and broke state and federal laws. He continued to deny the allegations this week, but he said he would step aside in 14 days.

Kathy Hochul, the state's lieutenant governor, will replace him and become the first female governor of the state. 

“Governor Cuomo made the right decision and is doing what is best for the State and its residents,” Real Estate Board of New York President James Whelan said in a statement. “It is critical that we all stay focused on advancing New York’s economic recovery from the pandemic. We are committed to working with incoming Governor Kathy Hochul and all elected officials on efforts to ensure a strong and equitable recovery for all New Yorkers.”

Jay Martin, executive director of landlord group Community Housing Improvement Program, described Hochul as someone who would make a “strong, competent” governor.

“Our housing operators and managers look forward to working with the future governor as soon as possible to reform the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), to make sure struggling renters and their housing providers quickly receive the federal funds they deserve,” he said in a statement, referring to the $2.6B program that has received widespread criticism for its slow rollout

“This program has been a failure, creating stress and anxiety for tens of thousands of renters and property owners," Martin said. "It must be fixed immediately to make sure people are housed as they rebuild their lives after the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Partnership for New York City CEO Kathryn Wylde said the organization is looking forward to supporting Hochul’s administration.

“Governor Cuomo’s resignation, as he stated, is the best decision for the people of New York,” Wylde said in a statement. “He has many outstanding accomplishments during more than a decade in office. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is well equipped to transition to the top office and provide positive leadership for the state’s continued battle against COVID-19 and for economic recovery."

Cuomo — who had long been considered an ally of the real estate community, though the relationship had waned in recent years — said in his live webcast Tuesday that he has never “crossed the line with anyone” in his mind and that he “didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn.”

Despite a slew of allegations leveled against him in recent months, Cuomo had continued to enjoy support from the business and real estate community. His government pulled in more than a half-million dollars in campaign contributions from real estate players for his planned run for a fourth term, the New York Post reported last week. The donors with real estate links included RXR Realty executives, Two Trees employees, Related Chairman Stephen Ross, Extell Development founder Gary Barnett and Douglas Durst’s wife, Susanne.

But many of his industry backers, in the wake of James’ damning report, withdrew their support. REBNY’s Whelan last week said the findings warranted an “expeditious” impeachment process, while the Service Employees International Union, Local 32BJ said Cuomo should resign. The Hotel and Gaming Workers Union also pushed for Cuomo’s resignation or impeachment after having previously supported him. The New York State United Teachers union described the governor to Commercial Observer as “unfit” to serve. The Retail Wholesale & Department Store Union also last week joined the calls for his resignation.