Posts Tagged ‘taking stock of housing’

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Housing updates

man standing in wooded spot

Here are some progress reports on projects we’ve been following and other related housing updates:

Wilmington moves forward on workforce housing

The Town of Wilmington took an important step toward a small but significant workforce housing development on Nov. 28, closing on the land that will be known as the Wilmington Homestead Housing project

“This has been a long road. I cannot thank the Coarding and Walton family enough,” said Wilmington Supervisor Roy Holzer. “This family sold us the property below market value for the good of our community. I also have to send a sincere thank you to the entire town board that approved this purchase and exercised great patience with the process as we navigated the sale.”

Holzer’s term as supervisor is ending this year, but he said he’ll still be volunteering his time to work on affordable housing projects.

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Let’s Take A Look At An Adirondack Park Community Housing Act

The recent public forums organized by the Common Ground Alliance and the Adirondack Explorer shined bright spotlights on housing needs and challenges in the Adirondack Park. The various housing advocates and housing non-profit leaders who spoke at these events outlined the problems and challenges facing their work and Adirondack communities. Tim Rowland’s ongoing reporting on the Adirondack housing challenge for the Explorer (see here, here , and here for some good ones) has admirably gone deep into this issue.

The common denominator among advocates and in Rowland’s reporting points to inadequate public funds to deal with the issue, meet the challenge. With more money, it seems, many of the advocates and non-profits who work on this issue every day could bring more affordable/low income/work force housing onto the market. State funding is a big question now with the State’s projected $9 billion deficit and state leaders unable to develop a statewide affordable housing program. The various existing programs, spread widely across New York, don’t meet the current need, and are often a hard fit for small rural communities.

» Continue Reading.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Housing series recap: What we learned and what’s happening next

group of people in front of a brown house

This week marks the final installment of our Taking Stock of Housing series, with a look back at the high points and a bit of a look forward at what the Adirondack housing issue holds for the future.

Hopefully the park will do a better job of solving the problem over the next 30 years than it has over the past 30 — despite warning calls being voiced back then just as they are today. “…(A)ffordable housing for the middle class is a thing of the past,” wrote Assemblyman Neil Kelleher in a 1992 letter to The North Creek News Enterprise. “A moderately priced home simply can’t be built.”

Keller worried that an economy based on logging and tourism, or “chainsaws and chambermaids,” as he put it, would fail to support the basic necessities of life. Not everyone was so pessimistic. A Town of Jay comprehensive plan drawn up in 1997 felt confident housing construction was adequate to meet housing needs — barring some great upheaval that would send city dwellers scurrying to the wide open wilderness spaces. But what were the odds of that?

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

A one-man land bank

man in front of a brown building

I spent a recent weekday morning in a former Saranac Lake Cure cottage with contractor Shawn Duheme, who had a plan to convert decrepit old Adirondack homes into affordable housing. This pursuit led him to the tax auction, a Mecca for flippers, bottom feeders  and homebuyers looking for a bargain, usually with no idea what they’re getting themselves into.

Shawn’s idea was to act almost like a one-man land bank, fixing up old homes for sale and then using the profit to fund the next purchase. To keep the sale price affordable, he would “subsidize” the sale by curating a YouTube following more or less following his journey and highlighting the pitfalls that these old properties present.

“It didn’t work,” Shawn said. He got hundreds of subscribers, not the hundreds of thousands he needed to achieve critical mass. He was competing with dozens if not hundreds of other DIY programmers — and he was selling a message people didn’t want to hear: These fixer-upper projects are way over the heads and budgets of people without proper training and skill.

» Continue Reading.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Taking Stock of Housing: Is help on the way?

housing graphic

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s ambitious, statewide housing agenda might have gone down to legislative defeat, but her administration is plugging away with incremental solutions that don’t get the ink of a massive state initiative, but still show some promise.

For the Adirondacks, one of the more intriguing prospects is the Affordable Homeownership Opportunity Program, which will provide $150 million in housing-development subsidies over the next five years.

According to its mission statement, “The funding will take advantage of advances in technology to control construction costs, reduce the cost of ownership, and meet New York’s climate goals through new construction of single-family homes and townhomes, or the new construction or adaptive reuse of multi- family coops or condo projects.”

This is the vehicle being used by the Housing Assistance Program of Essex County (HAPEC) to build a four-home development in Keene, and if it comes to fruition it will become just the second project in the state to take advantage of this funding pool.

What’s compelling about this program is its ability to fund very small projects (four homes is the minimum, said HAPEC Executive Director, Megan Murphy).

» Continue Reading.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Housing series wraps with in-person event

housing graphic

The gap between what people earn and the housing they can afford has been widening in the Adirondacks.

Add to the problem a shortage of available housing and constraints on development and you’ve got a housing crisis.

This summer, Adirondack Explorer launched a series that shows how Adirondack housing issues are connected to other community challenges. As part of the reporting, the articles also highlight efforts underway to offer potential solutions.

Adirondack Explorer’s “Taking Stock of Housing” series is wrapping with an event, comprised of individuals and organizations doing housing work across the region. Connect with others who care deeply about how to fix this problem, while we ask “what’s next” for how to get there.

Event highlights include:

» Continue Reading.

Friday, August 18, 2023

The potential, promise of condos

woman and two girls, one of which is holding a chicken

Might condos, Adirondack style, be at least a partial solution for the region’s housing crisis?

The Northern Forest Center posed that question during an online brainstorming session last week that included Adirondackers with first-hand experience with condos.

Adam Bailey, Adirondack program manager for the center, said the envisioned affordable housing condos are not the sprawling luxury developments associated with resort towns. Instead, condos can be fashioned a handful at a time out of older, sometimes historic properties, or be built at scale.

They are cheaper to build and maintain  and the costs are amortized.” That’s according to Adam Feldman, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Northern Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties.

But there are pitfalls.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Taking Stock of Housing: A complicated relationship with STRs

STRs graphic

After talking with multiple people representing multiple sides of the short-term rental issue, it starts to become apparent that at least part of the problem is the phrase “short-term rental” itself.

While it can’t be said that no two STRs are alike, from a legal standpoint, “short-term-rental” is an inconveniently broad net that includes the elderly widow who is renting out a room of her home to quiet guests in order to pay the taxes, to what are basically small hotels run by LLCs filled with boisterous vacationers intent on partying. And everything in between.

Local STR ordinances try to differentiate between “good” STRs and “bad” STRs, discouraging them on one hand while not doing too much to damage their admitted economic benefits on the other.

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Taking Stock of Housing: The promise of land banks

inside a tiny house

Affordable housing is a tough enough nut to crack as is, but events hundreds of miles removed from the Adirondacks can precipitate unexpected headwinds.

In 2015, Hennepin County in Minnesota seized a condominium for $15,000 worth of back taxes and associated costs. The county then sold the property at a tax sale for $40,000.

The previous owner sued, arguing that the county’s $25,000 profit constituted an illegal taking, and that the money rightfully belonged to her.

The case bounced along through the judicial system until on May 25, when in Tyler v. Hennepin County, the Supreme Court agreed that the profits indeed belonged to the former owner.

It was, said Nicole Justice Green, a heart-stopping moment for the Essex County Land Bank, which is counting on tax foreclosures to power a promising avenue of affordable housing.

» Continue Reading.

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