Friday, May 10, 2024

State Awards $300,000 to Adirondack Roots, Partners for Affordable Housing

people in front of a house


DEC Smart Growth Grant Award will help identify sites for workforce housing development

Elizabethtown, NY —A $300,000 New York State grant will help Adirondack Roots create up to 60 new, affordable homes in the North Country.

The Smart Growth Grant Award, announced last Thursday by Gov. Kathy Hochul, will be matched with a $36,000 grant from Adirondack Foundation to support the work. Adirondack Roots will work with the Lake Champlain-Lake George Regional Planning Board on the project, which involves feasibility studies and other work at four locations in the Adirondacks.

“Accessible housing is the number one challenge faced by workers and families in our region,” said Megan Murphy, executive director of Adirondack Roots. “We’re slowly making progress in closing the housing gap, and this grant will accelerate our efforts even faster. We’re grateful to Gov. Hochul and the DEC for recognizing this important need through this critical support.”

The first hurdle to building affordable housing is often finding the right place to put it. Environmental constraints, a lack of developable space, local and regional regulations, and infrastructure requirements can pose significant hurdles for developers eager to get projects off the ground. The expense of working through those issues can dissuade them from even starting.

This state grant — part of $5.4 million awarded to 48 communities and organizations in the Catskills and the Adirondacks — will pay for surveying, legal costs, environmental reviews and engineering fees, such as the development of site-plan drawings, at each location. As the federally designated economic development agency in Clinton, Essex, Hamilton, Warren and Washington counties, the Lake Champlain Lake George Regional Planning Board will administer the grant and lead community outreach.

Once the pre-development work is complete, Adirondack Roots will work with builders and landowners to extend necessary infrastructure, pave roads and construct homes at the sites. Two are located in Essex County, with the other two in Hamilton and Warren counties. Together, the sites can accommodate up to 60 new units.

Adirondack Roots sign

Photo by Eric Teed for Adirondack Roots.

“Our studies show we need to develop 7,500 new housing units in the next decade to serve our existing and future workforce,” said Beth Gilles, the regional planning board’s director.  “But this acute need is evident even without a study: We speak often with people who live here and people who want to live here, and we know how challenging it is to find safe, affordable housing. We’re excited that this grant will help make it happen.”

One of the key drivers behind the push for increased workforce housing is the difficulty of the region’s employers to hire enough people to support their growing businesses. Without housing, new workers can’t move to the area—and, sometimes, they’re forced to leave the region for lack of affordable places to live.

“Over and over, our research shows that one of the most effective steps we can take to help grow the economy is to support the acceleration of workforce housing,” said Lori Bellingham, vice president for community impact at Lake Placid-based Adirondack Foundation. “We’re glad to have the chance to support this needed work.”

Adirondack Roots is currently leading efforts to develop up to 30 units of affordable housing in the region. One project, with the Keene Housing Task Force, will build four permanently affordable homes in that community; another, with the Town of Wilmington, will develop six apartments for workers there; and a third will develop up to 20 units for farm workers in Essex County.

“Smart Growth grants represent a vital investment in our communities, fostering sustainable development, economic prosperity, and enhanced quality of life for all New Yorkers,” Gov. Hochul said in a release announcing the state awards. “With these grants, we are empowering local leaders to implement forward-thinking solutions that address pressing challenges while laying the foundation for a brighter, more prosperous future.”

About Adirondack Roots:

For more than 45 years, Adirondack Roots has been dedicated to building vital and sustainable communities by helping individuals and families put down roots and stay in the North Country. Adirondack Roots develops and preserves quality, affordable housing and helps community members obtain and maintain safe, secure homes through education, advocacy and support services.

Photo at top: Approximately 30 people gathered at the home of Joelle Nesbitt in Westport for the rebranding of Housing Assistance Program of Essex County to Adirondack Roots. Nesbitt’s family home was saved with a rehab grant through the organization. Photo by Eric Teed for Adirondack Roots.

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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at

One Response

  1. Paul says:

    A “feasibility” study to figure out they cannot afford to build affordable housing in these areas..

    We know there is a problem, we don’t need another study.

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