M&T Bank Sponsors HomeOwnership Center

RUPCO accepts M&T Bank sponsorship check of $10,000

Tara Dickett, Kevin O’Connor, Alex Hajek, Catherine A. Maloney, The Big Check, Eric Dahl, Kathy Germain, Sandy Altomare meet at Savonnah’s, Kingston.

RUPCO and M&T Bank share a vision for first-time homebuyers in the Hudson Valley, one that’s spanned several years and scores of first-time homebuyers. Last week, M&T Bank representatives Tara Dickett, Alex Hajek and Eric Dahl presented a $10,000 Girder Sponsorship check to RUPCO Board Chair Catherine Maloney, CEO Kevin O’Connor, Kathy Germain and Sandy Altomare from the RUPCO’s NeighborWorks America HomeOwnership Center.

M&T Bank — a consistent supporter of RUPCO’s NeighborWork’s America Homeownership Center located at 301 Fair Street, Kingston — believes its investment in local homebuyer education and savings programs works. “Homeownership is important. Like so much in life, our impact is greater when we work together. Thank you RUPCO for all that you do,” noted Eric Dahl, Vice President and Regional CRA Officer in MTB’s Community Reinvestment Program.

As of December 1, 2016, RUPCO’s HomeOwnership Center brought 81 first-time homebuyers across the finish line in Ulster County. The demographic make-up of that homebuyer group included 12 African-American (15%), 3 Hispanic and 13 single head of household families (16%).

The homebuying process, from orientation to house closing, can take up to two years. In 2015, 75 first-time homebuyers came through the education process to owning a home, up from 55 the year prior. “RUPCO’s Homeownership Center has helped hundreds of first-time buyers achieve the dream of homeownership,” adds Kathy Germain, RUPCO’s Vice President of Housing Services. “We all know that purchasing a home is one of our biggest, personal financial investments. At RUPCO, we work with local lenders like M&T Bank, who provide great fixed-rate, affordable mortgage products and the First Home Club match-savings program (FHC) to help families transition into homeownership with an affordable payment.” Often, a first-time homebuyer pays a mortgage payment, including other housing costs, that costs less than what the family is currently paying for rent.  Generally, families of 1-2 people can earn up to $60,160 to qualify for FHC. Mortgage payments are factored at an affordable rate or 30-42% of  a family’s gross monthly income, leaving greater disposable income for other necessities like food, clothing, and transportation.

As a mortgage lender, M&T Bank participates in the Federal Home Loan Bank’s First Home Club where first-time homebuyers open a match-savings program to facilitate savings toward a first home purchase. For every $1 a person saves, the bank matches $4, over a minimum of 10 months. A future homeowner can earn a combined grant of $7500 towards closing and down payment costs. Along with income eligibility requirements, future homebuyers must take six hours of homebuyer education and secure a mortgage through the lending bank. M&T Bank averages over 800 First Home Club participants a year, the highest enrollment in New York State. In 2015, RUPCO facilitated $336,000 in First Home Club grants.

Last year, RUPCO’s Homeownership Center introduced 81 homebuyers to their American Dream which generated over $10-million in mortgage lending through local banks. The average mortgage cost $140,880 with an average first-home purchase price of $155,251.

HomeOwnership Center sponsorship supports homebuyer marketing and outreach, orientation and homebuyer education classes. Accepting the M&T Bank sponsorship check was RUPCO Board Chair Catherine A. Maloney. “The partnership between M&T Bank and RUPCO is strong and vital. Together, we’re helping people achieve the dream of homeownership.”

Housing Quality Standards Inspector

keyboard where return key says "Jobs"RUPCO has an opportunity available as a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) Inspector. The HQS Inspector reports directly to the Director of Rental Assistance, and is responsible for performing inspections on dwellings to be subsidized in accordance with HUD Housing Quality Standards. This full-time position is comprised of the following:

Position Responsibilities:

1. Notifies tenant/landlords by mail of upcoming annual inspections.
2. Conducts apartment inspections utilizing HQS standards.
3. Contacts tenants/landlords to schedule initial inspections in a timely manner.
4. Handles tenant/landlord complaints regarding rental unit conditions. Conducts
special inspections when necessary.
5. Corresponds with tenant/landlords regarding any subsidized unit failing Housing Quality Standards.
6. Updates Housing Choice Voucher Program database with current inspection information.
7. Updates inspection database with current Housing Quality Standards failure information.
8. Maintains a positive and professional relationship with tenants/landlords participating in the rental assistance program.

Required Knowledge, Skills, Education and Experience:

  • Must have valid driver’s license and driving record that meets RUPCO insurance underwriting standards. 
  • Must have reliable transportation to be used to conduct inspections if company vehicle is not available. 
  • Must be organized and able to work independently.
  • Must have effective communication and interpersonal skills (both written and oral).
  • Experience in a customer service environment, as we believe our clients are our customers.
  • Tolerance and sensitivity in working with a diverse population.
  • Strong work ethic
  • Computer literate
  • Attention to detail
  • Knowledge of the Housing Choice Voucher Program and housing construction is helpful.
  • Must complete the HQS training to become certified within one year of assuming position

Salary: $15.53/hour; full-time position with benefits

Application Deadline:  Resumes and letters of interest will be accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled

Submit notification of interest by email: Vanessa Secore, Director of Rental Assistance

RUPCO Receives Ulster County Executive Arts Awards

RUPCO 1 of 9 Honorees of Ulster County Executive's Arts AwardsOn Tuesday, June 6, Arts Mid-Hudson will present RUPCO with an Ulster County Executive’s Arts Award in the “Business/Corporation” category at its annual fundraiser to be held at the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory.

“To share a night of recognition with the creative community — especially our partners Center for Creative Education and Lynne Wood and Stephen Blauweiss, documentary producers of “Lost Rondout,” — is a true testament to what we can achieve together,” notes Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer. “To be recognized for our contribution to the arts community with a nod from County Executive Mike Hein and AMH is fantastic, and we celebrate RUPCO’s high and low-profile work to expand Ulster County’s cultural vitality.”

RUPCO’s higher profile engagement on behalf of the arts community includes:

  • Creative placemaking through historic preservation of the once-vacant curtain-factory-factory-turned Lace Mill, a nationally recognized award-winning effort in community development complete with three gallery spaces, community offerings, and affordable living in 55 apartments with a preference for artists
  • Host site for Kingston Sculpture Biennial in 2015 where nine large-format pieces shared indoor and outdoor space, including “Big Boy” a 15-foot steel rocking horse at The Lace Mill entrance
  • Integrating the arts community with seniors and working families at the intergenerational campus, Woodstock Commons which preferences seven apartments for artists exploring their talent

Some of RUPCO’s lesser know affiliations with the regional cultural exchange include:

  • Hosting the annual Kingston High School Student Exhibit in conjunctions with the Women’s Studio Workshop held each year at The Kirkland
  • Serving as a nonprofit partner/grant partner for individual artists applying to AMH and other artist-work grants
  • Supporting the production of “Lost Rondout: A Story of Urban Removal” as one of its executive producers
  • Spearheading the new construction Energy Square in midtown Kingston and future home of Center for Creative Education and Hudson Valley Tech Meet Up
  • Collaborating with StockadeWorks to bring TV/film sound stages, production studio and training center to The Metro; The Metro will also offer Maker’s Spaces for creative manufacturing, light industry and large-format artistry.

RUPCO is one of nine honorees including:

  • Woodstock Film Festival (Art Organization)
  • Center for Creative Education (Arts in Education)
  • Jane Bloodgood Abrams (Individual Artist)
  • Norm Magnusson (Art in Public Places)
  • Katharine L. McKenna (Patron)
  • Lynn Woods & Stephen Blauweiss for “Lost Rondout: A Story of Urban Removal” (Special Citation)
  • Barbara Bravo (Volunteer)
  • Niaya DeLisi (Student with Exceptional Promise in the Arts)

“We see Kingston’s new economy steeped in The Arts, from manufacturing hard goods used in creating them to establishing new space for creative talents to thrive,” adds O’Connor. “In the process, RUPCO’s vision – to create strong, diverse and vibrant communities with opportunity and a home for everyone – supports the work and homelife of creative people looking to call Kingston ‘Home.'”

Open Letter to the Community

In 2016, RUPCO celebrated its 35th anniversary as a not-for-profit, community development corporation. Led by a volunteer board of directors, our mission is to create homes, support people and improve communities. Our vision is for strong, vibrant and diverse communities with opportunity and a home for everyone.

RUPCO works broadly in the area of housing and community development. Last year, we helped 81 families purchase their first homes in Ulster County. We proudly administer the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) in Ulster and Greene Counties, serving nearly 2,000 working families. We market NYSERDA’s Green Jobs/Green New York program in 10 counties including Westchester. This program encourages homeowners to have energy audits performed and then to make energy retrofits that save energy and money while creating jobs for local contractors.

RUPCO has long served as the administrative consultant for Ulster County’s Continuum of Care approach to homelessness. Over the past decade, our role has guided the Continuum’s receipt of over $11 Million to support an array of nonprofits serving the County’s homeless; in turn, these partners provide homes and support services while saving local taxpayers significant dollars.

Our real estate development work has included Buttermilk Falls in the Village of Ellenville where we built and sold 15 townhomes to first-time homebuyers. We also constructed the innovative Woodstock Commons, an intergenerational campus of 53 homes for seniors, working families and artists. In developing Woodstock Commons, RUPCO overcame significant NIMBY opposition. Now that the campus is built and a demonstrated viable part of community, its acceptance is universal. We are very proud of our award-winning work at The Lace Mill that transformed an old boarded-up factory building and created 55 spectacular rental homes with preference for artists.

Landmark Place, drone view, rendering of both buildingsRUPCO has proposed Landmark Place to return the Alms House to its original purpose of providing affordable and stable housing to Kingston’s most vulnerable people. The concept, which involves the historic restoration of the existing building and construction of a new building, came about as a direct response to the need we see every day at RUPCO. Indeed, when the phone rings today, as it does every day, from people in need of an affordable housing solution, we have no resources. None! There are rarely vacancies at the affordable housing complexes. The Section 8 wait list is closed for the foreseeable future, and more than a thousand people are stalled on our wait-list for rental assistance or an affordable home. In our wok with the County’s Continuum of Care, we count a daily average of 160 single homeless people – many of them seniors – being ill-housed in costly motel rooms. The idea for Landmark Place is a response to our observation of the area’s boarding homes that have little choice but to inadequately crowd four people to a room. This type of treatment has consequences and costs as Health Alliance CEO David Scarpino recently reported:

When we look at people who have had four or more hospitalizations in the last 12 months, it comes down to two populations, people with respiratory problems and people with behavioral health problems – mostly the elderly – and we’ve chosen to focus on the issue of behavioral health because it is so profound in our community. Last year we had one person come to the hospital 64 times. When you have people living in shelters, single rooms, flop houses and hotels, they feel insecure, they have no social contact and they are lonely.”

He’s right. Surely, we can do better.

Last summer, we responded to Governor Cuomo’s call to create 6,000 units of supportive housing across New York State and applied to the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI). This program saves local taxpayer dollars in several ways. First, by providing stable and supportive housing, vulnerable seniors stay out of the emergency rooms, and have less interface with our local law enforcement and court systems. Secondly, this state funding provided by ESSHI, will pay for rent and support services at Landmark Place and will replace local dollars that are now contributing towards the daily costs of shelters and motel rooms of nearly $100 per day.

RUPCO Paid $215K in 2016 Kingston taxes We are putting the Alms House property onto the tax roll for the first time in its history and we expect to pay property taxes of nearly $70,000 per year. Although a non-profit, RUPCO believes strongly in contributing to the tax base and is proud of its record as a taxpayer. In 2016, RUPCO and its affiliates paid over $215,000 in property taxes in the City of Kingston. Current New York State law requires local assessors to strictly value affordable housing by the income approach, recognizing that lower rents produce far less income than market units to pay for operating expenses including taxes. New York State also authorizes local taxing jurisdictions to enter into Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTS) to both for-profits and non-profits for economic and community benefits including job creation and affordable housing. Landmark Place – with its proposed property tax contribution coupled with the aforementioned savings to local taxpayers – makes for a truly wise economic investment.

Landmark Place will offer the first new, affordable senior housing in the City of Kingston since 2001 when Brigham Senior Housing was created on O’Neill Street. In sum, Landmark Place will offer 66 rental homes for seniors, including 35 supportive homes for seniors who are experiencing, or are threatened by, homelessness. The campus is designed with health and safety in mind, so that our seniors can thrive. Health and safety measures include a 24-hour-7-day-a-week security detail plus on-site staff including a full-time LPN, a Supportive Care Manager, and a live-in maintenance supervisor. Landmark Place will also offer van transportation to its seniors without cars.

Landmark Place offers a unique opportunity for our community to come together and provide an oasis for our seniors for the next century. To provide a home for vulnerable elders who are frail or have a disabling condition. To hand a set of apartment keys back to a veteran who served our country during the Vietnam War. Or to help a loved one that is in need of a safe, accessible and affordable apartment – one that is nearby to you and your family – to grow old. This type of opportunity comes along once in a generation – to lock in place a community asset akin to that which our forefathers did over 140 years ago – a home for our elders.

To those who live nearby and have expressed concern – we hope that you recognize the recent shift that we have made in our proposal for Landmark Place to make it an age-restricted senior campus where everyone must be age 55 or over. We believe this should lessen any fears or concerns regarding safety for your neighborhood. We also intend to invite a few neighbors, if interested, to join a neighborhood committee for Landmark Place to monitor the process during construction, lease-up, and operation and offer a forum to discuss issues and concerns. We hope a few will take us up on this offer.

Kevin O'Connor, Chief Executive Officer, RUPCOWe hope that the entire community will voice their support for this opportunity to return a vacant property to historic and productive use that will provide our seniors with a remarkable living campus for the next century. Landmark Place, a place to call home.

Sincerely, 

Kevin O’Connor
Chief Executive Officer, RUPCO

Dorms and Domiciles

Stephanie A. Lopez, the authorMy relationship with home hasn’t changed much in my twenty years of living. Born in what was once called St. Vincent’s Hospital (now Richmond Memorial Hospital), my parents raised me in a small, modest apartment by the Staten Island Mall. The apartment occupies the lower level of a two-story home, the upper level of which my aunt and landlady occupies. My parents, who were born and raised in Manhattan, elected to raise their children in Staten Island twenty-two years ago, and it was then that they settled down in my now-Home.

My Home is nothing like my dorm room, or what my relatives affectionately call my “home.” Often, when I am returning to school after a long break, my mother will kiss me goodbye and say in a sing-song voice, “Have a safe trip home!” Moments like this stick out in my mind, times when my mother could not be more wrong.

Don’t get me wrong.  I do love my residence hall and the SUNY New Paltz campus as a whole. Nonetheless, that is not my home; that is my school, the rock that grounds my studies and the work that I tirelessly undertake everyday. But the dorm, that is not my home. Home is where my mother makes arroz con gandules, or rice with beans, and pernil, or roast pork, around the holidays. Home is where my siblings and I poorly play Mario Kart 8 then swear that we will come in first place next time. Home is where I hang up the hand-drawn Marvel’s Avengers poster my dad drew for me last year.

Still, I know I am very fortunate to readily conjure a vision of home. Some people, like the same man who drew me my Avengers poster, are not so lucky. For the past three years, my dad’s been couch-surfing after a less-than-civil separation from my mother rendered him homeless. My siblings and I watched helplessly as our father migrated across Staten Island, exhausting his reserve of friends and relatives who could afford to house him. Currently, he is residing with one of my uncles and his family, but there is no telling where he will end up next.

RUPCO’s daily work helps people like my father secure safe and affordable housing. Their initiatives have touched countless lives in the city of Kingston and beyond. Because of my work at RUPCO, I’ve facilitated important conversations with my father about his future and finding the help he needs to secure that future. Every day, when I see the faces of those who have benefitted from RUPCO’s mission, I think of my father. It is my pleasure to assist in RUPCO’s efforts and to be a part of their goal of creating homes, building communities, and impacting lives.

Stephanie A. Lopez is a graduating senior from SUNY New Paltz and is currently the Editorial Assistant in RUPCO’s Communications and Resource Development Department.

 

“Those People” are People Like My Parents

Welcome signAfter attending the public hearing on February 28, 2017 (held by Kingston City Planning Department on proposed rezoning in the area of 300 Flatbush Avenue), I feel compelled to voice my concern for one argument, in particular, raised in opposition. I find it incredibly offensive that some project opponents would characterize potential residents of Landmark Place as aggressive criminals, waiting to attack our children and seniors. Those characterizations are without any valid basis, and reflect those speakers’ ignorance of the people within our community who need stable, supportive and dignified homes. I hope that the members of the Planning Board will reject this fearmongering as the transparent scare tactic that it is.

To counter that scare tactic, I’d like to share with you a portrait of who I see as potential residents of Landmark Place, by way of the example of my own family’s story. My parents do not live locally, and will not be applying to live in Landmark Place. I use them only to demonstrate the population that Landmark Place hopes to serve.

My parents are both college educated, tax-paying citizens, with no criminal histories. My father was a successful banking executive and my mother was a special needs teacher. In 2006, my father decided to start a leasing/financing business with a couple of partners, in which he invested almost all of the personal wealth he had amassed over his professional career.  In late 2007/early 2008 when the economy collapsed, he lost everything. For the next several years, he worked when he could, but depleted the remaining savings he had left, attempting to pay-down creditors, their mortgage and other bills. Ultimately, my parents lost their home to foreclosure and filed for bankruptcy.

Their financial troubles took a toll on their relationship, and after 44 years of marriage, my parents then got divorced.

My father now lives in an apartment that he can’t afford. He is diagnosed as clinically depressed and requires medication and treatment. At times, he is forced to decide between paying rent or paying copays for treatment and medications. He has been actively looking for a more affordable living situation for the past year, with no success.

Around the time of my parents’ divorce, my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer that had metastasized to her lung. She had the lung tumor surgically removed this past December, and is currently in the middle of six-months of chemotherapy. She would like to work, but can’t, because the chemo has made her too weak, and because her compromised immune system makes it too dangerous for her to be around children, or people in general. Her paid leave runs out in April 2017, when she will no longer be able to afford the apartment she is currently living in.

Obviously, neither of my parents will be living in Landmark Place.  However, they are both appropriate examples of good people, who despite their best efforts, still need assistance by way of affordable, stable housing. Most of us are just a financial crisis, or a divorce, or a serious illness away from needing this help.

To vilify and dehumanize the people whom Landmark Place could potentially help, in an attempt to incite opposition to this project, is disgraceful.

Adam T. Mandell headshot, RUPCO board memberThis post was adapted from a letter to the Kingston Planning Department and entered into public record in support of rezoning proposed at 300 Flatbush Avenue. The former City of Kingston Almshouse currently sits vacant at this location, the proposed new home of Landmark Place, am affordable senior and supportive housing solution.

Adam Mandell is a RUPCO Board member since 2016. He is also a partner at Maynard, O’Connor, Smith & Catalinotto, LLP.

Gimme Roots

Gimme roots, ivy creeping on brick walkwayShe opens the door to a Lace Mill gallery. She reminds me of every favorite Art and English teacher I’ve ever had. She’s an accomplished writer, poet and Mom. A part of Ulster County and its thriving artist community for her entire life, Holly is one of the people that makes our area the amazing place it is.

As we sit on soft leather couches in the gallery, other residents stop in and out, asking for an opinion on an art project or quick feedback on an inspiration. I ask her if she knows her neighbors, really knows her neighbors. Is The Lace Mill a social building? Her eyes light up.  Residents of The Lace Mill bond over everything: their families, growing up, religion, even politics. At this point in time, almost everyone in the building seems to love the Netflix show, The Adventures of Kimmy Schmidt.

“I do know my neighbors, and I love my neighbors!” extolls Holly. “I was thinking just today that it would be weird for me to move away and not see them anymore. And that’s after less than a year.”  In that time, Holly’s life has changed for the better. Within a place she calls Home, she embraces her true self: a comforting, welcoming, and happy woman. With great shoes.

Holly at The Lace Mill

Holly dressed as Queen Bee for Sinterklaas, outside The Lace Mill

“It’s been a hard few years in these parts,” Holly says.  “Because the apartments are subsidized, my rent is lower than average local rents, and that’s changed my life substantially.  I had been fighting for a while the idea of having to leave Ulster County, which has been home all my life, to find some place more affordable. Since being here, I’ve applied for artist residencies (where you go and just write for an entire month), and I am leading a poetry workshop in Missouri this summer, at an academic conference about Laura Ingalls Wilder. She wrote The Little House on the Prairie books, which are important historical documents about pioneer life.  Maybe even more exciting, I am going to have an article in the local paper, which I have wanted to do since High School. Lace Mill has let me focus on creating the life I want, rather than imagining it to be somewhere else, in some imaginary future.”

 

She’s realized what a role being safely housed plays in much mental illness, something she spoke about at a recent public hearing in support of Landmark Place. She’s seen first-hand how housing stability plays a huge role in productivity, and what a difference secure housing makes in a person’s life.

Because she’s got a solid place to live, Holly can now open herself to new writing opportunities and collaborations. She plans to hold poetry workshops and finish her new book. Since moving in to The Lace Mill, she’s coordinated several group shows, called Samplers, and gave a public reading of A Christmas Carol in December. Seeing people excited to create new work is what makes the time putting together things like The Spring Sampler worth it, and she loves brainstorming with other creative spirits in The Lace Mill.

She and I agree that having a secure place to live makes you a happier person. Life is hard enough. There are lots of people suffering from all sorts of different things. “I think that when you chronically don’t know where you’re going to live in a year, mental wellness suffers. Everybody needs a place to regroup and ‘just be.’ Moving around a lot, or not having a place to land — it definitely makes a hard situation worse.”

Holly knows what Home means to her. She happily and knowingly appreciates her neighbors, and newfound opportunities. Having roots for the first time, Holly thrives, more and more every day.

This interview has been updated, reflecting a few of Holly’s more current artistic activities.

Rachel Barnett headshotFreelance writer Rachel Barnett wrote this interview while serving as Editorial Assistant in RUPCO’s Communications Department (Fall 2016) as part of the SUNY-Ulster Internship Program. Rachel too knows the important connection between housing and mental wellness; her brother strives for mental wellness, too. Rachel has seen the benefits of stable housing and its affect on his life, and hers. A lover of all things avante garde, Rachel too appreciates fabulous glasses and great shoes.  

 

 

WIMBY: Welcome in My Backyard

WIMBY: Welcome in My BackyardTwo words I believe are very dangerous together, though benign alone: Us. Them.

Uttered in singularity, neither word brings much to mind except perhaps a grade school spelling test or two. Uttered together in virtually any context, and the speaker has just created a dichotomy that truly does not have to exist.

Yet we do this. We speak like this daily.

“Why are they so much different than us?” “Why are they taking what belongs to us”?

And when we consider our neighborhoods, our villages and cities, we pit “us” vs. “them,” and we create the phenomenon called NIMBY. Not In My Back Yard.

Let’s be honest. When we say “Why do they have to live here with us?” that is exactly what we are saying.  We are saying that “they” don’t belong. But we do. Do we stop and think what gives us the right to make this determination? Do we stop to consider who has helped each of us along the way? Do we consider that at any moment “us” can become “them”? In fact, each of one of us is a “they” to someone else.

No. We don’t consider those questions. We move forward. We close our eyes to our neighbors who have come on hard times. We close our eyes as we walk in Kingston, focusing on the new shiny renovated spaces, the blue sky, the historic district. We close our eyes to our community. We miss the beauty that can be found in need. We miss the opportunity to be more than ourselves.

We, as individual members of our community, cannot do many things on our own. We cannot individually make the opioid drug epidemic go away. We can’t stop people from developing terminal illnesses. We cannot individually hide on our porches, behind our picture windows, behind our fear hoping that someday we will go for a walk in Kingston and all of the people who make us uncomfortable — just because they are them and not us — have been cared for by someone else because we don’t want to do it.

But, a community that decides to do right by everyone who is a member of that community, can collectively do anything.

It starts with admitting to ourselves that we all know right from wrong. We were all taught this at some point. And, even if we weren’t, we know right from wrong because we are human.

We share this community, but we do not get to choose who our community members are. Learn about the community, love the community, enjoy your neighborhoods, parks and restaurants.

But never forget that this community is our community, collectively. Beautiful, ugly, new, old, rich, poor, homeowners and homeless. No matter how hard we try to separate “us” from “them,” it is impossible because it is not reality, nor should it be.

I offer WIMBY. Welcome In My Back Yard. Let’s change the conversation. Let’s open ourselves up to the opportunities that come when we avail ourselves to them.

Let’s be WE.

And most of all, let us do what is right.

Eliza Bozenski, RUPCO Advisory CouncilEliza Bozenski is a member of RUPCO’s Advisory Council since 2017. She also works as Director of Anderson Foundation for Autism, and has been with that organization since 2006.

UNITY: Artists’ Corridor Partners in Collaborative Exhibit

Election Night March 2017 by Leslie Bender

The UNITY show is a partnership of artists from along the Cornell Street corridor — the Shirt Factory, Pajama Factory, Brush Factory, Cornell Street Studios and The Lace Mill — whose works will be exhibited at The Lace Mill’s East Gallery and West Gallery, 165 Cornell Street, Kingston.  The show’s opening reception will be held Saturday, May 6 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Disciplines include painting, sculpture, ceramics, performance, installation, music, and dance, video, puppetry for kids, and sonic meditation. Artwork, like Election Night March 2017 by Leslie Bender, at right will be featured.

A closing reception the following on Saturday, May 13 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., features live performance-based art such as dance, video and music.

Inspired by the newly launched Midtown Arts District (MAD) last year, Lace Mill community arts liaison Sarah Carlson and Shirt Factory events coordinator Lisa Kelley started discussing the possibilities of joining forces to create a dynamic group show of the buildings’ artists while also supporting the mission and initiatives of MAD.

American Flag by Sarah Carlson

American Flag by Sarah Carlson

Carlson explains, “I wanted to do a show that was about what we have in common, rather than what divides us, and to have that conversation as a community. It seemed sweet to open that dialogue to the arts corridor right here and a nice way for us to dialogue about what’s happening on the local national stage. As artists, that’s what we do.”

Kelley adds, “I love Sarah’s idea for bringing our artists together with the theme of unity.  Over the last year, the Midtown Arts District and Mike Piazza’s artist factory buildings have supported this kind of collaboration between artists.  I believe we’re planting some fertile seeds for exciting partnerships in the future.”

High Water Mark by Nicholas Kahn & Richard Selesnick

High Water Mark by Nicholas Kahn & Richard Selesnick

Nearly two dozen artists will participate in UNITY including:

Leslie Bender
Micah Blumenthal
Stephanie Bonavito
Tania Canteli
Sarah Carlson
Amy Cote
Ray Curran
Joan Ellis
Alexis Feldheim
Rosalie Frankel
Green Palette Community Center
Patrice Heber
Nina Isabelle
Susanna Kearney
Lisa B Kelley
Maki Kurokawa
James Martin
Dan McManus
Diana Seiler
Charlotte Tusch
Frank Waters
Eli Winograd

For more information:
Sarah Carlson at The Lace Mill 917-428-3297
Lisa Barnard Kelley at The Shirt Factory  845-901-0244

Regional Economic Development Finds Local Pulse of Latino/Hispanic Business Needs

First local meeting of Regional Initiative exploring Latino/Hispanic Economic Development

Earlier this week, a small group met at The Kirkland to lay groundwork for a larger conversation around economic access and business building in our Spanish-speaking communities.

Community Capital NY (CCNY) and Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress (Pattern) are collaborating on an initiative to establish a road map for additional business resources and access to credit for new and existing Latino/Hispanic enterprise. The initiative focuses on the cities of Beacon, Poughkeepsie, Kingston, Newburgh, Middletown and Port Jervis.

“Pattern & CCNY asked for our help in gathering the local perspective. We’ll hold business forums to collect community input. We invite Latino/Hispanic community members to come forward and share what business owners and entrepreneurs need to be successful. We’re asking simple questions like what’s needed, how’s credit working (or not), and what resources are out there to build opportunity,” notes Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer at RUPCO. “In the three relevant communities we serve — Newburgh, Kingston and Middletown — the Hispanic/Latino population is strong. Jobs and new business creation are top of mind for everyone, no matter color, race or culture. But we know access to resources is not equal. This initiative spearheaded by CCNY and Pattern will explore the current situation and make recommendations for our communities moving forward.” Community Capital and Pattern, with guidance from local advisory committees, will conduct local outreach to determine needs and barriers within the Latino/Hispanic business community. Based on this fact-finding research, the team will recommend best practices and develop a guide of local and regional resources available to the Latino/Hispanic business community.

Present at the Economic Development for Hispanic and Latino Businesses meet-up (pictured above) were Emily Hamilton (Deputy Director of Housing at Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress), David Sosa Rosa (Kingston business owner of La Roca Floral), Simone Obermaier (Senior Vice President of Lending at Community Capital New York), Hugo Jule (outreach coordinator at RUPCO’s Green Jobs | Green New York Program), Maru Gonzalez (Executive Assistant to the CEO) and Kevin O’Connor, both of RUPCO. The group identified first steps in gauging the climate of local Latino/Hispanic business, its networks and resource access. “We’ll hold a few more meetings here at The Kirkland, talk with more people with the help of pastors and the church community, to make people aware that this conversation is happening,” adds Maru Gonzalez. “To be a part of this local conversation, contact me at (845) 331-2140 and I’ll put you on our email list.” If you have questions about the broader Community Capital NY-Pattern for Progress initiative, contact Kim Jacobs (CCNY) at (914) 747-8020 or Joe Czajka (Pattern) at (845) 565-4900.