Affordable and Admirable

Cartoon by Joe Gallina.

With the prospect of two new housing development projects, village officials are requesting that all qualified families sign up in advance for the opportunity to receive affordable housing.

Village of New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers, following up on the groundwork laid by former Mayor Jason West, brought this initiative to fruition thanks to months of negotiations and legislative redrafts, which now includes a financial incentive for home property owners in the area.  

In short, for applicants to be eligible for reduced-cost rental housing units, the family’s income in full must be equivalent or below 60 percent of the adjusted median income level. For a family in New Paltz, where the yearly median household income is $67,462, this level would cap out at $40,477. 

And although “households” are defined as being one or more persons by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a family in America is rarely that small. Last year, the average household size nationwide was 2.63 persons, whereas Ulster County was 2.45 persons. 

Considering those statistics, families who are denied affordable housing are left with $3,373 per month for all living expenses. This creates a pressing financial situation for even the most frugal among us, which can be remedied by a proactive local government.

We at The New Paltz Oracle commend Rogers for his efforts to ensure that affordable housing options remain available in New Paltz. They are an essential resource for a small college town such as this one and mark a positive step in the revamped nationwide approach to affordable living. The actions taken by Rogers mark a continuation by the village and other municipalities in assimilating lower-income families into mixed-income family communities. This initiative will move people into decent housing, while improving their overall economic opportunities. 

Some may doubt the incentive for home property owners to agree with affordable housing laws, but proper legislative procedures have guaranteed the feasibility of a policy that ultimately benefits everyone in New Paltz. Most people are lucky enough to have grown up with a roof over their head, safe drinking water and the other bare necessities of life. But for the lower-class, that is not always a given. When facing doubts regarding something as imperative as a living situation, it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on anything else in life. With the lack of security that housing options limit younger people to, the potential to establish a strong foundation of one’s future is less than plausible.

Within the finer details of the law, exemptions are available for any earnings of minors or full-time students up to $5,000. Speaking as students, who comprise an appreciable amount of tenants in the village, we understand how cost is the predominant factor in where we live. With rents continuing to rise each year, along with supplemental costs of living, any break in prices or move toward expanding affordability is worthy of praise. 

The village’s initiative has a singular focus, which is to supply lower income families with subsidized housing options. This is a prime example of local government taking individualized steps for legislation they see fair and right for their community. In an era of uncertainty regarding federal funding, it is reassuring to see the village government push for legislation that will make an immediate impact on the lives of people seeking to be part of this community. In this turbulent national political climate, it is the duty of elected local officials to produce legislation that will mobilize and promote the wellbeing of their constituents.

One of the most admirable aspects of living in this beautiful, stimulating town is that it does not cost an arm and a leg. Now, thanks to the work of Rogers, the village board and the Affordable Housing Board, the proper steps have been taken to cement that as a reality.