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.

 

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.

MyKingstonKids Fest2017 at The Lace Mill

Kids Festival at The Lace Mill

The Lace Mill is the place to be for MyKingstonKids Fest2017, a free indoor/outdoor event created for local children. Your child will enjoy an eclectic experience of  interactive educational tools; engaging, fun-loving events; and age-appropriate entertainment. MyKingstonKids Fest2017 includes a children’s art show, music, performances, dance classes, arts & crafts, games, and more. MyKingstonKids Fest 2017 is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Lace Mill, 165 Cornell Street, Kingston.

For early-bird, get-up-and-go kids, MyKingstonKids Fest offers a Yoga Fun Class at 10:30 a.m.;  for parents and those young-at-heart, an adult beginners yoga class runs at the same time.

And who doesn’t love a Wonderland Tea Party? Tea Party-ers dress up, enjoy “tea & snacks,” parlor games and entertainment; choose from one of two age groups, ages 4-6 and 7-9. Register in advance as space is limited by visiting MyKingstonKids Fest2017.

Follow the latest updates on the MyKingston Kids Fest2017 Facebook page, too.

Newburgh Groundbreaking April 7

Newburgh Rebuilding Community One Home at a TimeJoin us on Friday, April 7 at 11 a.m. as we officially celebrate rebuilding community one home at a time. We’re working with Newburgh Community Land Bank, Safe Harbors of the Hudson, NYS Homes & Community Renewal, the City of Newburgh and key funders to resurrect 15 properties and 45 homes in a 4-block neighborhood nestled between Broadway and First, Miller and Lander Streets.

 

#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.

RUPCO recognized as one of “Preservation’s Best of 2016”

National preservation societies recognize The Lace Mill’s use of Historic Tax Credits to help revitalize the City of Kingston.

From an accomplished list of Historic Preservation Projects carried out across the United States, RUPCO’s Lace Mill has been identified as one of six historic preservation projects recognized as one of “Preservation’s Best of 2016.”

This award, granted by Preservation Action, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Trust Community Investment Corporation, brings attention to RUPCO’s success in using the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit to transform The Lace Mill, a historically significant building that was underutilized with boarded windows and turning it into a viable community asset for the 21st century. The awards are intended to bring attention to the success of the Historic Tax Credit as a driver of economic development across the country. The awards will be handed out at the Preservation’s Best Congressional Reception to be held on March 15 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Members of the Congressional Historic Preservation Caucus as well as Preservation Action members, partners and preservationists from across the nation are expected to be in attendance.

 “Preservation Action is very pleased to host this reception and recognize these exemplary historic rehabilitation projects. At a time when the future of the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit is uncertain, projects like The Lace Mill in Kingston, NY help to highlight the benefits of the program,” said Robert Naylor from Preservation Action.

 “We are pleased to be singled out with just a handful of projects from around the nation as a truly transformative project that adaptively restored a historic gem into a great community asset – one that is now key to the creative placemaking magic that is occurring in midtown Kinston,” said Kevin O’Connor, RUPCO’s Chief Executive Officer. “We saw early on the potential of this boarded-up building to meet one of Kingston’s varied community needs and we are thrilled with the results.”

“Having studied architecture and urban planning, I knew at the outset, that the project would make a difference in the neighborhood,” notes Scott Dutton, the project’s architect. “However, what I completely underestimated is how much of a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization this project would become and how quickly that would happen. The number of people that have told us that they made the decision to either purchase property or establish their businesses/residences in Midtown because of what they saw happening at the Lace Mills Lofts continues to astound me.”

Preservation Action has been hosting National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week for over 30 years. By honoring exemplary rehabilitation projects, its annual reception helps to highlight the benefits of the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit. The HTC is the largest federal investment in historic preservation, responsible for redeveloping over 40,000 buildings, and contributing to the revitalization of cities and towns across the country. The Lace Mill investment was $18.7 million and fully one-third of the costs were paid for by private sector purchase of the Federal and New York State Historic Tax Credits. Morgan Stanley served as the investor.

RuthAnne Visnauskas, Commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal, said, “HCR is proud to be part of this impressive and critically important development. The Lace Mill is once again an anchor to midtown Kingston. The preservation of this historic building will contribute to a more economically vibrant community and will provide safe, affordable housing for local artists. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, HCR will continue to invest in the adaptive reuse of vacant, historic buildings so that we can revitalize our neighborhoods while preserving our most significant buildings.”

RUPCO is an affordable housing advocate and innovative community developer in the Hudson Valley, is a charter member of NeighborWorks America, a national network of 245 housing and community development change agents. RUPCO affects the lives of over 8,000 people through its work with homelessness, rental assistance, foreclosure prevention, first-time homebuyers, home rehabilitation and energy efficiency and real estate development. RUPCO is currently working on $75-million worth of real estate development in the Hudson Valley, including Energy Square, Landmark Place, and The Metro in Kingston and the Newburgh Neighborhood CORe Revitalization. For more information, visit www.rupco.org

Preservation Action is a 501(c) 4 nonprofit organization created in 1974 to serve as the national grassroots lobby for historic preservation. Preservation Action seeks to make historic preservation a national priority by advocating to all branches of the federal government for sound preservation policy and programs through a grassroots constituency empowered with information and training and through direct contact with elected representatives.
 

Landmark Place- Proposal for Building


RUPCO’s CEO, Kevin O’Connor gives a proposal for the building of Landmark Place. Integrated into the former Alms House, this campus will offer senior and supportive living. This is the first new affordable housing option for seniors to be offered to the city of Kingston in over 16 years.

For additional details on this project, visit the Landmark Place page.