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.

Give Housing a Voice – Call Our Governor Today

Call the Governor TodayRUPCO is one of many New York State organizations ready to fulfill Governor Cuomo’s call for 1200 new units of supportive housing. These apartments benefit the disabled, veterans, and our most vulnerable neighbors, by helping them live independently and by providing a network of supportive services as part of their living arrangements.

Give Housing a Voice by joining us, the Supportive Housing Network of New York, and the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing by calling the Governor’s Office today 518-474-1041. SHNNY has provided a quick script for you below — here’s what to do:

* Call-In to Governor’s Office TODAY to encourage the final push for $1-billion for supportive housing
* Call 518-474-1041. It is a recorded number which gives options.
* Press “1” immediately and leave a message.  Otherwise you will have to listen to the menu of options.
* Message to Leave: Hello, my name is [XXXX] and I live in [XXXX]. I am calling to urge  Governor Cuomo to keep his promise to release funds for the first 6,000 units of supportive housing for the homeless in this year’s budget. The Senate, the Assembly and the Governor have now all said that $1 billion is required to fund the first 6,000 supportive housing units. With the homeless crisis at an all-time high, we need Governor Cuomo to prioritize this issue and get the job done!

The Governor is engaged in final budget negotiations and your call today is important to keep attention on the supportive housing plan. Your call matters. Ask a friend to make a call, too.

And thanks for your voice and help to Give Housing a Voice.

#BSM (Black Stories Matter)

Black Stories Matter photo collage

#BlackStoriesMatter raises our social conscience about people, perspective, and life. Spearheaded by The TMI Project, we’re honored to partner on this collaborative effort, pulling together our regional narrative to expand our understanding of each other, our differences, but most importantly, about our commonalities.

The next free workshop is:
Sunday, April 2 3-5 p.m.
The Kirkland, 2 Main Street, Kingston
Hosted by RUPCO, Citizen Action of New York and The TMI Project
RSVP online here or through the Facebook event page where you can share the event with friends, too. This workshop is free and light refreshments will be shared.

Read a few personal recollections from #BlackStoriesMatter storytellers here. Help spread the word and become a #BlackStoriesMatters partner (it’s free).

Attend the upcoming #BlackStoriesMatter performance on Saturday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Pointe of Praise Church, 243 Hurley Avenue, Kingston. Admission is free but RSVP here to guarantee yourself a seat.

Write your own story! Attend the upcoming writer’s workshops or submit your story online here. We’re hosting a writing workshop in the coming months at The Kirkland. Join our mailing list to find out when the next workshop is. In the meantime, let’s talk to each other, learn about each other, help each other…let’s tell stories because our stories matter.

SHNNY Salutes RUPCO’s Supportive Housing Efforts

Rebecca Sauer, Supportive Housing Network of New York | SHNNY.orgRebecca Sauer, Director of Policy and Planning at Supportive Housing Network of New York, issued this statement for the Landmark Place press conference held on February 13, 2017.

Along with the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing, the Supportive Housing Network of New York has been working for three years to ensure that there are sufficient resources to house the most vulnerable New Yorkers, at a time when more than 80,000 are homeless statewide. We have applauded Governor Cuomo’s commitment to develop 20,000 units of supportive housing over the next 15 years and were pleased when his budget last year included resources to develop the first 6,000 over five years through the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI). However, the requirement that the appropriation be subject to a Memorandum of Understanding between him, the speaker of the Assembly, and the leader of the Senate, led to unsuccessful negotiations. The full pot of money has not yet been released. Nevertheless, as a result of the tireless advocacy of our partners and members, we were able to secure funding in the amount of $150 million in last year’s budget cycle to fund the first 1,200 units of supportive housing.

RUPCO’s Landmark Place will contain 35 ESSHI units, among the first in the state to be part of this monumental commitment. The historic property will be rehabbed to house seniors, including those that are medically frail, veterans, the chronically homeless and those with mental illness and substance abuse disorders. This development will allow these people the opportunity to rebuild their lives and regain stability. The Network salutes RUPCO on innovative and critically essential work.

Meanwhile, back in Albany we are prepared for another season of budget negotiations. The governor has included $2.5 billion in his budget for an affordable housing plan, including $1 billion for supportive housing over the next five years. While this budget removes the requirement for the MOU, the proposal is still subject to negotiations in the legislature. Along with our partners, we are continuing to push for the release of much-needed funds for supportive housing, be it through the signing of last year’s MOU or through the appropriation of funds in this year’s budget. Organizations like RUPCO, with the buildings they develop and tenants they serve, remind us of why these government policies are so important. We look forward to the successful construction and opening of Landmark Place and the shared work ahead.

RUPCO Pays Taxes

RUPCO pays taxesPaying our fair share is part of the deal. We direct public monies to transform communities and, in return, we pay property taxes on those we own. We are part of the communities we serve, at all levels of interaction. So to answer the question…

Yes, RUPCO pays taxes.

Below is a table outlining taxes paid through 2016:

RUPCO pays taxes

 

In a snapshot, The Kirkland, located at 2 Main Street Kingston has paid over $573,000 in taxes between 2005-2016. In 2015 alone, The Kirkland tax bill is over $55,000 in school, city and county.

The Backstory of The Kirkland article
The Kirkland, corner of Clinton & Main, #KingstonNYThe Daily Freeman recently published an article about The Kirkland. We feel it  helpful for you to have all the facts and access to our original responses which we forwarded to reporter Paul Kirby last Tuesday. We feel the real story about The Kirkland is our delivery of jobs, taxes, community space, and synergistic influences percolating inside one of Kingston’s historic gems. The larger story, of course, is how this small project jumpstarted a transformation that began Uptown and is now seeing it’s way to Midtown.

“It’s been 8 years since we completed the building” notes Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer. “The rental units and the office space have been rented since Day One but as we all know, the market downturned in 2008. That’s the main reason a restaurant didn’t take hold at The Kirkland. In addition, the capital expense to outfit a commercial-grade kitchen and restaurant fit-up required a new tenant investment of $100k-$200k beyond our investment and that proved problematic. We started marketing the property in 2005 and showed it to several restaurateurs we even used commercial brokers but had no takers. At the time, the location was a little off the beaten path, parking limited, and many opportunities with established commercial kitchens already existed.

“When we started this project, we promised and delivered mixed use space. We cobbled together 17 different funding sources to complete the project including a $1.5M mortgage from Key Bank that RUPCO is paying. In 2010, when we converted our community space at the Stuyvesant, we invested more money to outfit The Kirkland’s Senate Room as new community space. Since 2008, RUPCO has grown from 28 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) to 65 FTE jobs, including 13 FTEs employees who now work at The Kirkland. Indeed, we’ve created more good paying jobs with benefits than what a restaurant would have delivered.” The Kirkland headquarters RUPCO’s Green Jobs | Green New York Program (GJGNY), a homeowner program designed to improve home energy efficiency through energy audits, weatherization and solar installations. GJGNY leads New York State in homeowner education, energy audits and retrofits, channeling over $5.3-million into the Hudson Valley economy; the program also saves homeowners money on their utility bills.

Originally built in 1899, the Kirkland Hotel fell into disrepair and remained derelict for over 30 years, a blight at uptown Kingston’s entryway. “We helped preserve history and put the 19th-century landmark doomed for demolition back on the tax rolls,” says O’Connor. “ Last year RUPCO paid over $55,000 in school, city and county taxes. Since we took ownership in 2005 and restored this building to its original grandeur – rebuilding the original domed cupola, installing an original wrap-around porch, improving the neighborhood – we’ve paid over $573,000 in taxes.” Winner of Best Historic Preservation Award from Friends of Historic Kingston, The Kirkland remains the gateway icon to Kingston’s Historic Stockade District.

“We hold homebuyer education classes in the Senate Room, which enabled 81 people achieve their dream of homeownership last year,” continues O’Connor. “Another 300 Housing Choice Voucher Program recipients learned about how the program works and what it takes to be good tenant. We also invested $58,000 this past fall, hiring local contractors to rehab and paint the exterior to keep it looking top notch this fall. This building has provided value to Kingston for over 100 years; we continue to do the same into the next 100.” The Kirkland is also home to eight mixed-income rental apartments providing much needed rental housing uptown.

Circle of Friends for the Dying, Ulster County Continuum of Care, twelve-step groups, Friends of Historic Kingston and O+ Festival hold monthly meetings, annual gatherings and diversity workshops here. “Once the central site the Kingston Clinic, Healthcare is a Human Right used the first floor for many years until they switched locations to The Lace Mill to meet the community demand there,” says O’Connor. “Women’s Studio Workshop and Kingston High School art students, NYC-based Center for the Study of White American Culture, Hudson Valley Tech Meet Up and local citizens have also used the space for their events. The Kirkland has consistently met the needs of our neighbors and we’re proud to adapt in ways that benefit our community as times change.”

RUPCO most recently invested in a high-tech audio/visual configuration to answer the community’s call for meeting presentation capabilities. “We continue to reinvest in the building,” says O’Connor. “We are good stewards, pay big taxes and create a large number of jobs! The Kirkland is just one spark to the economic fuel that is driving community wealth building in the Hudson Valley.”

Note: Also misreported in this article were Energy Square facts as well. As of today, possible tenants for the commercial space include Center for Creative Education and Hudson Valley Tech Meet-up; while we would have loved for them to join us on Cedar Street, Ulster County Community Action is not a potential tenant for this space.