Ryan announces $150,000 for rental assistance program

Posted 5/20/20

County Executive Pat Ryan announced a series of housing initiatives to help residents who have been impacted by COVID-19. During his Facebook Live briefing, Tusday, Ryan announced that the County has …

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Ryan announces $150,000 for rental assistance program

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County Executive Pat Ryan announced a series of housing initiatives to help residents who have been impacted by COVID-19. During his Facebook Live briefing, Tusday, Ryan announced that the County has been approved to reallocate $150,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for rental assistance. In the wake of COVID-19, many Ulster County households are faced with major reductions in income making them unable to pay their rent. To help these families, Ulster County has received approval to modify its current housing rehabilitation program to provide rental assistance to tenants as part of a coordinated response to the negative impacts of COVID-19. This assistance will help ensure that tenants do not face being turned out of their homes once the current restrictions on evictions are lifted.

“Housing has long been an obstacle for far too many Ulster County families,” Pat Ryan said. “No one who works full-time should have to make the decision between putting food on the table or paying their rent. COVID-19 has further exacerbated and amplified many of these housing concerns, including for our frontline workers who are working to serve and protect us all. This rental assistance program is a crucial step in ensuring all residents have access to decent affordable housing.”

The County is reallocating funds from its Housing Rehabilitation Contract to provide Direct Assistance payments for rent to eligible households earning less than 80% area median income. RUPCO, the existing sub-recipient, will administer the program. The current housing rehabilitation contract has approximately $300,000 of funds that have already been committed. Ulster County will honor these commitments. In addition, approximately $125,000 will remain available in the grant for housing rehabilitation. Ulster County will use this funding to focus most needed repairs so that existing homeowners can safely remain in their homes.

The rental assistance program will target low and moderate income families in compliance with CDBG requirements. The maximum assistance proposed is $3,000 for up to three months’ rental payments. This is in line with average rents for a one-bedroom apartment. Households will not be asked to contribute any portion of current monthly income towards their rental payment.

Residents of all municipalities in Ulster County except those in the City of Kingston (which receives a direct CDBG allocation) will be eligible to apply. Additional information on how to apply will be released shortly.

Eligible household requirements include:

• Complete the required forms

• Self-Certify that they earn less than 80% AMI;

• Demonstrate that they experienced a loss of income due to COVID-19 and are unable to make rental payments;

• Have a current lease, or landlord agreement;

• Document that they were current on their rent as of March of 2020.

Ryan also announced today the proposal of a county-wide land bank to create housing opportunities throughout the County. The proposal by the Ulster County Planning Department requests that the City of Kingston Land Bank expand its jurisdiction outside of the City of Kingston to promote the use of county-owned lands for workforce housing. Additionally, County Executive Ryan announced that the county will be introducing a housing study to understand and identify housing needs within the county.

The study will look at the impacts of COVID-19 on housing and present a clear strategy to encourage the production of more workforce housing throughout the County. It will also provide an analysis of the existing rental and owner occupied housing units in the County demographic data on the jobs and incomes available that can support housing costs, and interviews with individuals closely associated with housing issues and affordability.

These new housing initiatives are a part of the Ulster County Recovery Task Force. Back in April, County Executive Ryan established the group to ensure a coordinated and compassionate response to the devastating socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on county residents. The Task Force specifically highlighted the need for housing for frontline workers fighting COVID-19.

Ryan announced a series of proposals aimed at meeting this critical housing need last week. Recognizing the current shortage of housing across a wide range of affordability levels and housing needs, and the impact this shortage has on the Ulster County economy and communities, County Executive Ryan announced that he is partnering with the Ulster County Legislature to undertake the formation of a Housing Advisory Committee. The Housing Advisory Committee will assess the causes and drivers of this shortage and to recommend strategies that the County can pursue to alleviate it, in conjunction with municipal, business, and community partners.

Additionally, Ryan stated that he has directed the Ulster County Planning Department to create an inventory of county owned parcels that could be used for future housing.

There are currently 1,615 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 69 fatalities in Ulster County.

For additional information about COVID-19 visit: https://ulstercountyny.gov/coronavirus

Ulster County COVID-19 Hotline: 845-443-8888

NYS Coronavirus Information Hotline: 888-364-3065.

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