County Executive’s Corner: “County’s Second Housing Forum” (By County Executive Ed Day)

My Office for Community Development and Human Rights Commission spearheaded the county’s second Housing Forum with major stakeholders including developers, lenders, DSS, and more to strategize how to overcome Rockland’s housing challenges.

The forum was held on April 19th in honor of Fair Housing Month and had about 250 attendees with panelists consisting of representatives from Department of Social Services (DSS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), New York State Homes and Community Renewal, and Child Protection Compact (CPC), along with a diverse list of not for profits and housing professionals.

Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress (PFP) conducted the County’s first-ever comprehensive community and affordable housing needs assessment and our

Community Development Director Alex Obremski presented preliminary findings at the forum, painting a grim picture of the challenges surrounding affordability.

The Pattern for Progress keynote highlighted that while Rockland residents demonstrate deep care and compassion for their neighbors, there remains a need to develop strategies, and/or policy changes, that will better suit the housing needs of all, but particularly our most vulnerable residents which include the elderly, children, and the disabled.

Some findings include…

• Nearly 60% of homes in this county are single-family detached homes.

• The average price of those single-family homes is nearly $700,000.

• The median household income in Rockland is $100,000.

• Which only qualifies for a $260,000 mortgage. (huge gap for the average resident to afford)

• A housing deficit of 4200 units for those making under $60,000. We are talking about our essential workers including teachers, first responders, retail workers, government employees, and more… all unable to afford safe housing here.

The County is hiring a housing coordinator to lead any and all affordable housing initiatives we plan to pursue.

We are also utilizing ARPA funding to create a housing loan fund. This program, approved unanimously by the Legislature on April 16th , will provide direct loans to borrowers for affordable housing projects in Rockland of which proceeds from loan repayments will flow back into the fund for future housing opportunities.

I want to start by letting everyone know we are not looking for a license to overdevelop.

But it is clear something needs to be done…

We have aging populations who can’t afford to downsize…

Young families who can’t afford to upgrade…

And skyrocketing rents for those in between.

Its these hurdles that bring us all here today… so we – the stakeholders – can strategize and determine the best way to address the complex housing challenges this County is facing.

We are providing options and pathways for local towns and village governments to assess and implement as making determinations regarding housing is their responsibility.

I firmly believe safe and affordable housing is a human right; one that should not be limited to those at the highest income brackets, and I pledge to do all I can to help, not just my administration but all municipalities conquer this hurdle once and for all.

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