Hargash-GHAV-Painting_Final_webRarely do you see an affordable housing champion highlighted in a regional arts magazine. That is, until this month.

On newsstands this week, the April 2015 edition of Chronogram Magazine features community developer and affordable housing innovator RUPCO in an article entitled “Painting the Town. The two-page spread, penned by writer Anne Pynburn Craig, highlights the recent RUPCO-commissioned painting by artist Stephen Hargash. The piece commemorates the public dialogue surrounding the development of an intergenerational campus for seniors, families and artists. Woodstock Commons, with its 52 units of affordable housing, withstood rigorous review for nearly five years, before being built in 2012. A case study in public perception of affordable housing and the fight over its placement, RUPCO eventually won the support and hearts of a community divided over publicly inviting low-income residents into their midst. The process, as much an external debate over affordable housing, spurred an internal inventory of Town of Woodstock residents, and the dismantling of fallacies that continue to plague housing projects with the public good at heart.

The Woodstock Common’s journey is typical of the conversation around affordable housing, the pending placement of “those people” within the community, and the importance of speaking up on behalf of those needing help most. “Give Housing a Voice” captures the intensity of the town hall meeting and the sharing of one personal story in particular, that of Tamara Cooper. “It was her courage that inspired the painting,” notes Kevin O’Connor, CEO at RUPCO, “I wanted to honor her, her story, and her willingness to share a very personal and painful time of her life in a very public way. Many in the audience knew her in a very different light; to find out she was “one of those people” shifted the sentiment around building Woodstock Commons. From her example — of stepping forward to speak on behalf of the low-income residents to benefit from the project — we’ve resurrected the Give Housing a Voice awareness-advocacy campaign. We’re releasing tool kits at an unveiling event on April 16 to empower people to hold intelligent, informed conversations about the role of affordable housing in our communities. Each town decides for itself how and where, if at all, affordable housing enters. Reducing barriers and dispelling the myths are part of that process. To give housing a voice and a seat at the table is important; we want people to have the tools and talking points they need to make the case for community development with much needed housing solutions.”

The article, “Painting the Town” can be found in Chronogram Magazine on page 36-37 or online www.chronogram.com/hudsonvalley/painting-the-town/Content?oid=2300349 .

The RUPCO-hosted event, Give Housing a Voice includes an artist reception, artwork unveiling and night of storytelling to be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Seven21 Media Center, 721 Broadway, Kingston, NY 12401. Admission is free with freewill donations accepted at the door. For more information, visit www.rupco.org/advocacy/give-housing-a-voice/.

RUPCO has been creating homes, impacting lives and building community since 1981.  A leader in homeownership, foreclosure counseling, energy-efficiency and rental assistance programs, RUPCO is expanding its programmatic offerings throughout the Hudson Valley with the recent RDAC affiliation and urban revitalization projects in Newburgh, Saugerties, and Kingston. For more information, visit www.rupco.org.

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