Ulster County Legislature Acts to Define Affordable Housing as a County Purpose

Posted February 15, 2023

(Kingston, NY) – In one of its first acts in the new year, the Ulster County Legislature took a historic step to address the affordable housing crisis through the passage of Resolution No. 7 of 2023. This legislation provides for a Public Hearing on Local Law Number 2 of 2023, which adds the development and management of affordable housing as a vital function of the services Ulster County provides. 

“Ulster County is at the forefront of a nationwide housing crisis. In addition to the limited availability of apartments and houses, nearly a quarter of Ulster County renters are considered housing insecure, as well as almost a fifth of homeowners. By passing this law, Ulster County can better act to expediently develop homes for our working families to thrive in,” said Deputy Majority Leader Abe Uchitelle, Chair of the Health, Human Services & Housing Committee and Author of the Local Law (District 5 – City of Kingston).

This law comes as a proposed solution to address the crisis identified in the 2021 Ulster County Housing Action Plan (UCHAP), which exposed the tremendous insufficiency in the amount of affordable housing stock in our communities. Data compiled in the plan also revealed that the average wage earner in Ulster County needed to work at least 67 hours per week to avoid being considered rent burdened, defined as spending more than a third of one’s income on housing costs.

“Including affordable housing as a county purpose will unlock more opportunities for growth across the county, assist our neighbors in remaining in our communities, and foster development that benefits all. We in the Legislature will continue to evaluate policies that reduce the cost burden to homeowners and renters,” said Deputy Minority Leader Craig Lopez, Deputy Chair of the Health, Human Services & Housing Committee (District 14 – Wawarsing & Shawangunk).

This legislation follows up on significant commitments Ulster County has recently made to increase the available housing stock, improve existing dwellings and develop more protections for those burdened by the cost of housing. In October 2022 the Legislature provided for eviction services through Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, and included funding in the 2023 Adopted Budget for a Landlord Ambassador Program to assist property owners with necessary repairs and upgrades in exchange for maintaining affordable units for tenants.

“I applaud the County Legislature for advancing Local Law Number 2 of 2023 to include affordable housing as a County purpose, which will enable us to move forward with initiatives to expand the supply of housing that people can afford. The housing crisis is a national crisis that will not be solved overnight, but there is much more we can do to help our residents meet this most basic need once this legislation is passed.  I encourage all of our County Legislators to support this critical Local Law, and I look forward to signing the bill when it is delivered to my desk,” said County Executive Jen Metzger.

“Passage of this local law will provide additional support in advancing plans to address our housing crisis. I encourage all to speak at our March Public Hearing in support of its passage,” concluded Legislator Uchitelle.

Following the passage of Resolution No. 7 tonight, the Ulster County Legislature will hold a Public Hearing on Proposed Local Law No. 2 on Tuesday March 14, 2023 at 7:00PM in Legislative Chambers at 244 Fair Street in Kingston. Full text of the Resolution and Local Law can be found HERE. See attached for release in Spanish.