Call for UC Homeowner Interest Letter: Septic System Repair/Replacement Grant Program

UPDATE: 2/14/18 – This program is no longer being offered at at this time. Please contact  (sdolan@rupco.org) or call the HomeOwnership Center at (845) 331-9860 for more information about future programs like this. 

RUPCO, in coordination with the County of Ulster as the sponsor, is pursuing a grant opportunity to assist low- to moderate-income homeowners with private septic systems in need of repair or replacement.

RUPCO is requesting Ulster County homeowners with private septic systems that are failing and who are interested in participating in a grant program to provide basic information, so RUPCO can better identify the need for this type of grant program.

Interested homeowners should submit a Letter of Interest ASAP

Letters of Interest will be accepted on a rolling basis

  • by fax (845) 331-9864
  • mailed to 289 Fair Street, Kingston, NY 12401
  • hand-delivered to RUPCO’s HomeOwnership Center, 301 Fair Street, Kingston, NY 12401
  • or e-mail Sally Dolan

The Letter of Interest below does not commit you to participation. However, RUPCO will contact you if funding is allocated to this program. If funding becomes available, RUPCO will invite you to an informational meeting outlining program details.

Eligibility Requirements: 

  • Applicants must own and occupy the home with a deed in the name of at least one household member.
  • Homes in mobile home parks are not eligible.
  • The property must be up to date with all taxes, mortgage payments and homeowners Insurance.
  • Systems must be privately owned. Systems connected to public waste systems are not eligible.
  • City of Kingston residents are not eligible. Homeowners within the New York City Watershed are not eligible for this program; however, you may qualify for funding available through the Catskill Watershed Corporation.
  • Applicants must meet the gross annual income guidelines below by household size.

Letter of Interest Ulster County CDBG Well & Septic System Repair Program

Owner(s)/Name on Deed:___________________________________

Property Address:_______________________________________

Mailing Address if Different:  ______________________________________

Phone:_________________________

E-mail:___________________________

Household Size: _________       Bedroom Size: _________

Gross Household Income: $_______________________

Current septic system size in gallons:___________________________

 

 

Letter to the Editor: Petition for What is Right

In response to recent articles about Landmark Place — in particular RUPCO’s filing of an amended petition, Article 78 and HUD complaint — RUPCO CEO Kevin O’Connor distributed this letter to area news outlets. Some opted to print his comments in full; others not. Here is the complete content of that letter issued 8/22/17.

On behalf of our senior citizens and vulnerable elders, we filed an amended petition on July 11 as one strategy to protect our collective rights. While New York State law allows for a protest petition by neighbors of a proposed rezoning to trigger a super majority, the law is equally clear that if there’s a 100-foot-buffer between the rezoning and the neighbors, a protest petition from neighbors cannot force a super-majority for approval of the rezoning, and a simple majority vote is enough to approve it.

Let’s remember that a majority of the City of Kingston Common Council voted 5-to-4 in favor of a zoning change for this site. That is an expression of the democratic process and the will of the People of Kingston. While the City assumed the protest petition was valid, thus requiring a 7-to-2 vote to approve the zoning change, we believe the petition fails the legal requirements and should have been rejected. Therefore, we have filed an Article 78 and Declaratory judgment action that challenges the denial of the zoning change under our original petition as well. We think the courts will deem the original vote in favor of rezoning to be sufficient.

In addition, if necessary, we will also file a complaint with Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and will follow with a lawsuit against the City of Kingston for failing to make a reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. Both the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protect persons with disabilities from discrimination and require reasonable accommodations to be made by a municipality to ensure fair housing practices. Persons with disabilities are a protected class, no less important than race, sex, religion, national origin, color or familiar status. Those protected classes include several of our intended tenants: seniors with mental illness, seniors with substance use disorder, and seniors with physical impairments. The record is clear that certain members of the Common Council relied on inflammatory and discriminatory rhetoric against protected classes in making their decision on the original rezoning request. Simply put, a municipality may not make zoning or other land use decisions based on neighbors’ fears that a dwelling may be occupied by members of these protected classes.

While we harbor no ill will towards the neighbors who have protested against this project, we do believe it’s time – particularly given the hateful rhetoric that has been demonstrated across the country against persons of color, certain religious groups, and other protected classes – that the hateful rhetoric spoken here in Kingston against our most vulnerable senior citizens at public hearings and written in the comment sections of the newspaper and on social media stops, once and for all. Kingston has declared itself a sanctuary City and its leaders have almost universally spoken out against the culture of hate displayed elsewhere. It is time to take care of business at home and to stop treating people as “other” people! We stand with the majority of Kingston Common Council members who voted to support our proposed project.

We take no pleasure in bringing lawsuits against the City of Kingston, and we are troubled that the City has recently faced two other federal fair housing lawsuits. We hope the Common Council will take action to avoid unnecessary taxpayer expense by settling our claims without costly litigation. Between the cost of litigation and the loss of tax revenue this project would bring, all of the taxpayers of Kingston should not bear the burden of defending unlawful actions. We listened to the neighbors early on and responded by making reasonable accommodations in our proposal – we adjusted the age of the population to be age 55 and over for all tenants. The law requires the City to do no less. We were pleased to receive a negative declaration from the City of Kingston’s Planning Board and an endorsement from the Ulster County Planning Board prior to a favorable vote by the City’s Common Council to change the zoning. 

A proposal that is widely supported by the record is being held up by a handful of families who live next to the project. Their opposition is based on unfounded fears about the populations to be served, are veiled in arguments which the record reflects are unfounded. We reject any notion that simply living near senior and supportive housing will have a negative effect on people’s lives.

We are compelled to move forward based on our mission and the following facts:

  • The City of Kingston, based on the fact that it accepts federal Community Development Block Grant funds, has a duty to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing.
  • The need for affordable and supportive housing for the age 55 and over cohort has been soundly demonstrated in the record.
  • Since 2001, other municipalities in Ulster County have approved and built 534 senior housing units while the City of Kingston has built zero. It is well past time for the City of Kingston to step up and meet the needs of its senior citizens. The rhetoric of opponents that the City of Kingston has “done enough” is simply not factual.
  • In 2009, Ulster County adopted the Three County Housing Assessment Needs Study, executed by an economist and paid for by the Dyson Foundation that stipulated that to meet the affordable housing gap, the City of Kingston would need to build 1005 units of affordable housing by 2020. Since that report was published, the City has only added 55 units of affordable housing.
  • RUPCO has the experience and expertise along with funding commitments to develop, build and adequately staff Landmark Place to safely provide 35 supportive housing units for seniors with special needs along with 31 affordable housing units for seniors of low income.
  • Landmark Place will pay a robust $132,000 recreation fee to the City of Kingston Recreation Department and put the property back on the tax rolls for the first time in its history. The $20-million development will bring tax revenue and jobs to the City during construction and as permanent positions when operating.
  • Landmark Place will save local taxpayer dollars by moving folks out of motel rooms, shelters, and overcrowded boarding homes where local taxpayers are paying up to $100 per night to house them, and alleviate the burden on local hospitals by keeping people housed and supported with regular care.
  • In the end, Landmark Place will accomplish all of the above and provide 66 permanent, healthy, accessible homes to our senior citizens, some with special needs, in a richly designed, well-built, well-staffed campus.

We hope that the will of the People of Kingston and the obligation of our City to serve its seniors and disabled will prevail, and that more people will come out to show their support.

Kevin O’Connor
Chief Executive Officer, RUPCO

RUPCO-RCAL Summer Intern Sorts Data for Deeper Knowledge

John Krom, Sacred Heart UniversityRUPCO welcomes Sacred Heart University junior John Krom as a summer intern addressing issues of poverty in the local area. Krom will work closely with experienced staff in Program Services to help identifying families eligible for the Family Self-sufficiency Program, explore resident population statistics, and determine other demographic data. A recipient of the American Legion Scholarship Award, Krom is also a part of Sacred Heart University’s Junior Achievement group, which focuses on teaching young children the aspects of business and what careers are available to their generation. Krom’s internship is a result of a partnership between RUPCO, RCAL and New York State  Education Department’s Adult Career and Continuing Education Services (ACCES).

Bonnie Dumas, ACCES Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, coordinated the summer work experience. “We hope this opportunity at RUPCO will give John work experience and provide him soft skills in a career field he is interested in.” She sees this as an opportunity for John to gain the workforce experience he needs to transition from college schedules to business structure.

RUPCO oversees paid and unpaid internships each year as part of its commitment to the community. “We believe in providing valuable work experience in the nonprofit sector,” notes Tara Collins, Director of Communications of Resource Development. “In just the last three years, RUPCO has hosted a dozen interns from SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Ulster, Kingston High School, Sacred Heart University and Walden School District. Students gain skills and a resume addition, but the real value comes with their increased knowledge about their communities and how nonprofits support their neighborhoods. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nonprofit sector accounted for 11.4 million jobs nationwide in 2013, 10.3% of all private sector employment. That employment number is rising each year. Interning is a valuable experience for future young professionals and helps them understand the mechanics of nonprofit business in general, and RUPCO’s community engagement specifically.”

Hilary Nichols of RCAL is glad John has the opportunity to share his skillset at RUPCO while also being open to learning new skills that will cross connect in other spheres of the workforce. “John will brings a sense of eagerness and a way for people to re-look at their own job so they have a renewed sense of importance. I hope it will bring a sense of satisfaction within the RUPCO agency to have him there. I hope John will gain a sense of what the culture and climate is within an office or business environment so he learns how everyone needs to come together as a team to get things done. He can take what he learns and also apply it to college.”

John Krom and familyKrom’s previous customer service experience will come in handy this summer. A former line cook at Hurley Mountain Inn and waiter for Olivebridge’s County Inn, Krom also assisted with planning and organizing college activities. These jobs have prepared him with organizational skills and attention to tend to customer needs. Along with data entry and demographic research, Krom’s investigative skills will help RUPCO better understand its client base and how to serve them better in the future. Krom hopes that through collaborative work, he can help RUPCO clients and program participants advance to “better living, so people can move on, to lead more independent lives, and to help them save money.”

For Krom, Home Matters because it “shelters and protects you. It’s your sanctuary, and it makes you feel safe.” He emphasizes the importance of having a stable family life within home. “Family is what motivates you to your best. It helps you grow into the best human you could be, and provides a safe environment for you to live in. Family teaches you the foundation of life and pushes you to never give up. Without my family, I don’t know where I would be or where my motivation would come from.”

Digging Deep for Community Connection

Karen Miller has a special mission: to steward the Rondout and Liberty Street Community Gardens. Conveniently located in Kingston, both areas boast rectangular raised beds of fertile soil, a watering system, and opportunities to get your hands dirty while helping the Earth in a positive way. Miller hopes that these gardens will relieve residents of stress, so that these special places will offer them something in return other than a tangible product.

Miller sees community gardens as a way for people to “have success at what they are doing, that they see their efforts, and that whatever they put in there, they get something out of it. I want people to come back because they feel good about themselves. It’s exciting that they get excited.”

A local resident interested in the gardens called Miller one day and asked for two plots. Miller calls him her “wow guy.” He figured spending time gardening with his ill wife would enhance their relationship and give them something meaningful they could share during an emotionally turbulent time in their lives. Unfortunately, his wife died before they could start together, but he continues to tend the most productive patch on Liberty Street. There’s something therapeutic, digging deep, getting your hands into the soil.

Even children can benefit from the fruits of gardening. Miller hopes that adults who burrow sections of allotted land and soil—solely at the Rondout—will relay practices to children, such as youthful interest in weeding or watering. For example, Miller watched a mother come to the Liberty Street garden recently to show her child the flowers in bloom. The mother put the compost in the flowers and spoke of the purpose of her actions while the child watched. Miller believes that teaching children important life lessons early on is essential towards healthy growth. “I encourage the kids to come and help.”

Miller states that she gets personal pleasure from gardening: a way to recycle a day’s worth of stress or negativity and harness a positive sustenance that heals the mind and body. Miller is mindful when she gardens, “I am a sensualist person. I love the feel of the soil, the smell of the soil. And I like that when I plant something that there is a vegetable or plant that comes from it. I also like the feeling of having a little bit of control of where you put a plant, but also the lack of control.” This perspective has a spiral effect into other areas of life, being aware of control is central in developing a realistic sense of the world. Paradoxically, she hopes people “will lose themselves in gardening,” so that they can pay more attention to things that are in the immediate surroundings and not worry about the past or future. Gardening allows us to develop a sense of where we are, who we are, and what we are doing. It’s about digging deep, making a connection, simply being in that moment with nature.

Miller hopes these personal successes and life lessons wrought by gardening will provide fertile ground for future development and joy in unexpected ways. When life’s struggles and stressors cloud our outlook, gardening can cultivate something rich and beautiful within. This light can yield good energy for others to connect with—and therefore create roots in sustainability and livability in an increasingly digital, abstract world.

Residents interested in gardening a raised bedsat either location can email Karen Miller to get started.  Beds are $5 and include access to the garden space, compost, and a fair share of weeds. Bring your own plants, seedlings, seeds, and garden tools; water provided at both locations.

Celebrity Parrots Find Paradise in Ruby

KINGSTON, NY—Gloria Waslyn has been a successful career counselor, a long-time peace advocate, and a professional photographer; but her most important priority is to provide a comfortable and healthy living environment for her parrots who promote messages of peace. Indeed, campaigning for peace and the environment have been at the top of both Gloria’s and her parrot’s to-do list for nearly 20 years. The Parrots for Peace are the primary reason why she moved to the Woodstock area. Waslyn pursued this move from NYC seven years ago, and she and the birds now live in a house in which they feel safe and secure which they were able to purchase with the help of RUPCO’s Homeownership Center. They are also working towards the next steps in promoting peace, effecting equanimity with spirits as light as a feather, strong as a Buddhist mantra.

The family’s origins began at the Urban Bird parrot store in SoHo 18 years ago, where Gloria chanced upon a female parrot who was then three months old, and immediately, she knew their paths had crossed for a reason. Waslyn promised the parrot that “I’d give her the best life I could so she could do the work she crossed my path to do: together, we would work to educate people that we are all inter-connected.” Waslyn named her Merlin, because she could “make the best kind of magic… to make children smile.”

While vacationing in Cape Cod and perusing a shrubbery store, one-year-old Merlin fell in love with a six-month-old male parrot, and Mr. Baby was adopted. Mr. Baby and Ms. Merlin soon became a power couple, rainforest ambassadors, and spokesavians for nature and wildlife. Their portfolio demonstrates an active role in the United Nations’ International Day of Peace as well as Human Rights Day. Since September 11, 2001, their official title became “Parrots for Peace,” which attests to their huge undertaking of national and international cooperation. Since then, the parrot couple have had two beautiful children, Peace-nik and Ara, and they travel together as a family to participate in Peace and Green Festivals.

First-time homebuyer Gloria Waslyn & Parrots for PeaceThough the birds have an impressive track record, getting there cost Waslyn financially and emotionally.  She met a man involved with the peace movement and made the move to the Woodstock/Phoenicia area. Gloria soon became involved in the anti-fracking movement, instead of working solely on Parrots for Peace. Gloria was not earning enough income, and simply ran out of money.

With RUPCO’s assistance, Waslyn took the homebuyer education course, found a home, and qualified for grants that would cover some of the costs necessary to make her new space livable. She secured part of her closing costs and a mortgage. Now, Waslyn is delighted to have monthly payments that are far less costly than her previous rent. “This allows me to have the opportunity to focus completely on the next chapter of my mission; the Parrots for Peace, comprising environmental education, social justice, and advocating for the interconnectedness of the planet.”

Her feet are firmly planted in her home in Ruby, showing stability after not knowing if an opportunity for homeownership would arise in the community. “I have developed real roots here. The idea of going somewhere completely new would be an adventure, but everyone I know is here and is right down the street,” states Waslyn.

The birds have also managed to attract recognition through making lasting friendships. Their presence has made some of the most powerful connections that animals can bring to human lives through a one-time meeting, bound to a child’s memory. Waslyn described a memorable outing with the birds, when they provided love and support to people who convened at Rockefeller Center at Christmastime. A young girl ran up to them, asking them if they remembered her from a few years back. She dug her toes into her shoes, like a tree roots itself in the soil, and spread her arms to catch the sunlight while they perched on her “branches,” and promised to help create world peace. Waslyn was taken aback by the magic that radiated from the connection that lasted between a young child and the parrots over the years. These moments of impact are constituent components of real change, like how a small pebble dropped in water creates ripples. She may not remember the specific event as she matures, but, Gloria states, “…something will stick” and spark a response that will unfold as concern for animals and nature. Perhaps seedlings of animal or environmental activism will sprout, bloom into local efforts, and pollinate far-off areas to achieve a more naturalistic world.

Waslyn is also optimistic about RUPCO’s future and its staff’s determination to carry out a mission for safe, affordable housing for all. Upon reflection, Waslyn states, “RUPCO was one of the many helpful pieces in a long chain of family, friends, and former clients who offered ideas, loans, gifts, and work to make my dream for the Parrots for Peace unfold as step one of their bigger plan.”

RUPCO, NYS Rural Housing Coalition welcome VISTA member

Tara Collins, Monique Tranchina, Colin McKnightRUPCO welcomes AmeriCorps VISTA Member Monique Tranchina to its communications department this week. Volunteers In Service To America, or VISTA, is a 52-week program that focuses on “building capacity in nonprofit organizations to help bring individuals and communities out of poverty.” RUPCO secured its VISTA as part of the New York State Rural Housing Coalition (RHC)’s acceptance of 10 service members to support the work of rural preservation companies statewide.

Pictured here: Tara Collins (RUPCO Communications Director), Monique Tranchina (AmeriCorps VISTA Member), Colin McKnight (Executive Director, NYS Rural Housing Coalition).

VISTA members execute a national mission to “…promote literacy, improve health services, create businesses, increase housing opportunities, and bridge the digital divide.” As measured in 2015, about 13.5 percent of the population was in poverty: roughly 43.1 million people in the United States alone, according to government statistics, and Monique is determined to fight the war on poverty.

“I’m ready to serve those who deserve equal access to housing, and I wholeheartedly believe that even as a volunteer who works behind the scenes of RUPCO, I can effect change,” says Monique Tranchina, VISTA Member. “Through small efforts that ripple out in complex webs of support, intercommunication, and relationships, my service revolves around building a better  community. I hope to convey those messages through my editorial work, storytelling, and social media promotion this year.”

“We’re thrilled to have Monique on the team for the upcoming year. Not only does the VISTA experience offer her the personal opportunity to learn about work at hand in the housing sector and through nonprofit partnerships,” adds Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer at RUPCO. “Her presence also provides us the opportunity to increase our organizational impact, help more people, and improve our delivery of programs and services here in the Hudson Valley. As Editorial Assistant, Monique will work in RUPCO’s communication department on storytelling, social media channels, and behind-the-scenes support.”

Colin McKnight, Acting Executive Director of NYS RHC, adds in the affirmative that Monique will lend more awareness of the program, increasing the scope of people reached. “The Rural Housing Coalition is thrilled to welcome Monique to our statewide team of VISTA members working to address housing needs for rural New Yorkers. While gaining valuable work experience, these VISTAs will improve the quality of life for residents of our communities.” Founded in 1979, the New York State Rural Housing Coalition supports New York-based nonprofit housing and community development agencies to preserve affordable housing, develop new affordable housing units, and promote community revitalization. RHC further addresses the issue of homelessness or inability to afford housing without financial assistance, and works to secure local individuals or families with homes that suite their needs and income levels. RUPCO is one of 200 member organizations working in partnership with RHC to bring aid to Hudson Valley residents and homeowners.

On a smaller scale, Americorps VISTA members work within the United States to aid those within the nation who are underprivileged. Their sister program, Peace Corps, works more broadly to serve those internationally, and assists foreigners with professional training in their area of need while bridging the economic and social gap between other countries and the United States. While there are over 7,000 volunteers serving with Peace Corps, about 3,000 volunteers serve with the VISTA program this year. However, the impact of smaller organizations that designate smaller areas of assistance is equally as valuable as global outreach.

RUPCO Purchases Midtown Commercial Property for Community Wealth-building Development

aerial view of The Metro site mapRUPCO completed the next step in bringing community wealth-building to midtown. RUPCO closed on the former MetLife Hall of Records building last week, a 70,000-square-foot underutilized factory/warehouse at 2 South Prospect Street. RUPCO is proposing The Metro, a film & technology hub including Maker Spaces and other creative uses. Community wealth-building focuses on creating jobs while producing materials and value-added products/services within a community, instead of outsourcing those same products and sending hard-earned local dollars out of the region. RUPCO has entered a strategic partnership with Stockade Works, a nonprofit specializing in media attraction, production, and training based in the Hudson Valley and spearheaded by actor-producer Mary Stuart Masterson.

“The opportunity to once again repurpose a fallow, vacant building — this time through a community wealth-building approach to bring a mix of creative uses, all with the purpose of creating local jobs and capturing local wealth — is very exciting. This project is about creating opportunity for everyone,” says Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer at RUPCO. “The Metro is perhaps the last vacant factory building in Kingston. We’re combing our expertise in rehabilitating and managing old buildings with Stockade Works’ creative vison and drive. This is a new venture for all of us and we are not sure what the final mix of creative uses will be. The goal is to work collaboratively to build and keep the wealth, local. Already, the phone is ringing from Makers and small businesses who want to be a part of the scene at The Metro!”

Stockade Works is dedicated to fostering the further potential of film and technology in the Hudson Valley to increase economic growth and support local communities. As a driver of economic development in the region, Stockade Works attracts outside production and technology startups, connects regional media professionals, and trains the local workforce to create local crew and tech professionals. “Stockade Works is excited to partner with RUPCO to realize our vision for a community media hub to further education and innovation to ready the local workforce for jobs in film, television, and technology,” said Mary Stuart Masterson, Stockade Works Founder and Board President. “Stockade Works is dedicated to fostering the further potential of film and technology in the Hudson Valley to increase economic growth and support local communities. As a driver of economic development in the region, Stockade Works attracts outside production and technology start-ups, connects regional media professionals, and trains the local workforce to create local crew and tech professionals.”

It is our core belief that every individual should have access to fruitful economic opportunities, which includes access to well-paying jobs with avenues for growth. We believe in providing paths of entry to industries that suffer from a lack of diversity in order to transform the faces of entertainment and technology.

The $14-million development will generate a short-term, local economic impact during construction and long-term economic impact through job creation. RUPCO purchased the property with a private mortgage through the Leviticus Fund.

The Metro was named a 2016 “signature priority project” by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council (MHREDC). Renovation, upgrades, and historic preservation will utilize a variety of funding sources including the federal dollars through New Market Tax Credits (NMTC). The project is also eligible for state and federal historic tax credits; RUPCO nominated the property for both state and federal historic registers. Empire State Development is supporting the development of The Metro with a grant of up to $1 million, which was recommended by the MHREDC in Round VI of the REDC initiative. “The Metro will be home to two of New York’s premier industries – manufacturing and film/TV,” said ESD President, CEO, and Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “This project highlights the strength and success of New York State’s community-based approach to economic development, by recognizing and responding to a growing need in the Mid-Hudson region for exactly this kind of innovative workspace. The Metro will generate local jobs for local residents and Empire State Development is proud to support this project’s growth and success.”

The Metro property includes the warehouse, parking area, and Barmann Park, which will continue serving the local community’s recreational needs. RUPCO honors the name tradition, Metro, a nickname local children have called the Barmann Park area for years. Along with Stockade Works, The Metro’s immediate tenant roll includes private, local enterprises Chronogram and Steintex.

 “My administration fought long and hard to bring the Upstate Film Tax Credit Program to Ulster County, and we have already seen tremendous results with several multi-million dollar films being shot across our county.  We are extremely excited about the future of the film industry in Ulster County and our many partners including Mary Stuart Masterson who is an integral part of this project. By locating Stockade Works at this sight, there is the potential to deliver meaningful high-quality jobs for our community, as well as industry-specific job training,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein.

“This is an exciting step forward for RUPCO, Stockade Works and for our community at large,” said City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble. “This building in the heart of Midtown will no longer sit vacant. Instead, it will be bustling with innovation and purpose, empowering our local residents to access training, employment, and entrepreneurship. This isn’t just job creation, it’s community revitalization.”

Real Facts: 34 Things You May Not Know About Landmark Place

Real Facts: Landmark PlaceTime for the “Real Facts.” To counter “alternative facts” presented by some as “the truth,” we’re sharing 34 Real Facts you might not have known about RUPCO. These cover our nonprofit status, real estate development in general, Landmark Place in particular, and facts about creating community through housing. Print this PDF and share with a friend or misinformed neighbor.

RUPCO the Nonprofit

1. RUPCO, Inc., is a 501 (c) 3, non-profit organization. It is tax-exempt, and like thousands of other non-profit organizations, it does not pay income tax.

2. We are celebrating our 36th year of doing business. We are led by a volunteer board of directors and an advisory council.

3. RUPCO’s 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.

4. As a tax-exempt organization, RUPCO is exempt from property taxes but generally needs to apply for local property tax exemption on a case by case basis. Nevertheless, all of RUPCO-owned or controlled property pays taxes or PILOTS because we believe in contributing to our community.

5. RUPCO had a $1.4M profit in 2015. RUPCO had a loss of $176,000 in 2016. Over the past 5 years, RUPCO has averaged a profit of $410,000 against an annual budget of $7.5M, considered prudent at 5.5%. Here are the last 5 years of profit or loss as reported in our 990 filings:RUPCO Profit-Loss Table 2012-2016

6. Today, RUPCO has 63 employees, most live in Kingston or Ulster County.

7. In 2015, RUPCO’s fund balance of $11.7 million dollars, accumulated since the agency’s inception in 1981, consisted of $5.3M in properties, $6.5M in long-term receivables and $3.7 million in cash and current receivables. $1.8 million of the cash is restricted and there was also $2.2 million in current liabilities. RUPCO’s current ratio for this 2015 snapshot was 1.69 where 1.5 – 2 is considered healthy in the industry.

8. RUPCO has had no income qualifying as ‘unrelated business income’ (UBI) for 2015 or any other year as all income was directly related to RUPCO’s tax-exempt mission as registered with the IRS and NYS Charities Bureau.

9. RUPCO consistently maintains a Certificate of Good Standing with the New York Department of State.

The Development Process

10. The IRS administers the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program that was created by the tax reform act of 1986 under President Ronald Reagan. The LIHTC program is the largest producer of affordable rental housing in the country. The IRS requires the investors (any entity that purchases the federal and/or state tax credits) to own the real estate for a minimum period of 15 years. Thus, the nation-wide, industry standard is to create limited partnerships to admit the investors as limited partners. The for-profit or nonprofit developer, usually in the form of a subsidiary, serves as the general partner. The developer is then given the right of first refusal to buy out the investors at the end of 15 years. To illustrate:

  • For our Lace Mill project, Morgan Stanley purchased the LIHTC and historic tax credits making a private equity investment of over $10M in the project. They are the limited partners in the Lace Mill Limited Partnership that owns the Lace Mill. RUPCO created a subsidiary corporation, Lace Mill Housing Development Fund Company to manage the limited partnership and RUPCO has the right of first refusal to purchase the property from the investors, dissolving the limited partnership, at the end of 15 years.
  • RUPCO has recently bought out the investors in the Park Heights Senior Housing in Rosendale which had been in a limited partnership. The property is now owned by RUPCO.

The Need for Senior & Supportive Housing

11. The critical need for affordable housing including senior and supportive housing is well documented:

a. Harvard Joint Center for Housing State of the Nations’ Housing
b. National Low Income Housing Coalition Out of Reach
c. A Three County Regional Housing Needs Assessment for Dutchess, Orange and Ulster Counties from 2006 to 2020
d. United Way ALICE Study of Financial Hardship

12. Recognizing the critical need for supportive housing, Governor Cuomo and the NYS Legislature created the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI) in 2016 and are funding 6,000 units of supportive housing across New York State.

13. The City of Kingston has 39% of Ulster County’s affordable housing – not 61% as has been claimed. New Paltz has 186 affordable housing units – not zero as has been claimed.

14. The City of Kingston has only 26% of the senior affordable housing units in Ulster County. The last senior housing built in the City of Kingston was 40 units at Brigham Charter on O’Neil Street back in 2001. Since then, the rest of Ulster County towns have built 469 senior units while Kingston has built zero. So, for senior affordable housing, the scorecard since 2001 reads: Ulster County Towns 469 – City of Kingston 0  
For a detailed analysis of affordable housing units in Kingston and Ulster County, refer to this chart. 

15. RUPCO currently has over 700 senior applicants on its waitlists for affordable housing in Ulster County.

16. On average, there are well over 150 homeless adults on any given day. In New York State, fully half of the homeless single population is over the age of 50.

17. Today, given the very low vacancy rate and long waiting lists, there is not one affordable housing unit for seniors available anywhere in Ulster County!

18. David Scarpino, President and CEO, Health Alliance of the Hudson Valley, 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.”

19. Harold Renzo, who served his Country in the U.S. Marine Corp, has lived in an apartment in RUPCO’s Stuyvesant for over 20 years. Harold suffers from multiple sclerosis and uses a wheel chair for his mobility. At a recent public hearing regarding the proposed zoning change, Harold said this: “And I just want you to know that one of the hardest things in life is not being disabled and it’s not having a disability, the hardest thing is not being accepted by the community. We want to support the community and we want the community to support us.”

The Fiscal Impacts

20. RUPCO will propose a PILOT of $66,000 per year at Landmark Place. This is calculated at $1,000 per unit annually compared to other housing developments that have secured PILOTS that range from $150 to $400 per unit, per year. It is important to note that PILOTS are not given solely for job creation. NYS law provides PILOTS for affordable housing production as well.

21. In addition, RUPCO will pay a one-time recreation fee of $132,000 ($2,000 per unit) to the City of Kingston. Commercial projects DO NOT pay recreation fees, ONLY housing projects pay recreation fees. RUPCO paid $110,000 for the Lace Mill and when added to Landmark Place and Energy Square, RUPCO will have paid $356,000 in recreation fees to the City of Kingston which are dedicated to fund the development or improvement of City parks.

22. The economic impacts of a $20M development project are substantial. According to the 2017 study: The Economic Impacts of Affordable Housing on New York State’s Economy, the economic impact of a typical 50 unit project in NYS is included below. At 66 units, the economic impact of Landmark Place is expected to be 30% higher than these figures:
a. One-time Construction Impacts
i. $16.6 million in total economic spending
ii. 100 total one-time jobs. This includes 46 direct jobs in construction-elated activities, 30 indirect jobs in related industries supporting construction and 24 induced jobs from household spending
iii. $6.43 million in total employee compensation
b. Ongoing Annual Impacts
i. $2 million in annual economic spending
ii. 14 total jobs
iii. $0.7 million in annual compensation

23. Not doing Landmark Place will not save any taxpayer dollars. The funding proposed for Landmark Place has already been appropriated at the federal and state levels with bi-partisan support. If money is not spent at Landmark Place, it will be spent elsewhere in NYS or around the country.

24. According to the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), supportive housing saves local taxpayers up to $15,000 per year when compared to shelter/hotel costs of nearly $100 per day, hospital, police and court costs.

The Alternative

25. The property at 300 Flatbush Avenue, Kingston was determined surplus by Ulster County and has been known to be available since 2012 and it has been actively marketed to developers since 2013 by SVN Deegan-Collins Commercial Realty. Click here to read the SVN that letter outining the extensive marketing effort conducted to showcase this property.

Kirchhoff Companies looked at the site in 2015 and declined to pursue it for commercial purposes. Click here to read why Kirchhoff believes this site is not suitable for commercial use.

26. According to industry experts we talked with, most commercial tenants would likely need to eliminate the mature tree line along Flatbush Avenue and the Route 9W, introduce more curb cuts and bring in truckloads of fill to raise the site. RUPCO’s proposal will do none of that.

27. The Alms House was not listed on the historic register prior to RUPCO’s recent steps to have the property listed. Therefore it is inaccurate to assert that the building’s historic status was a deterrent to other potential developers.

28. The site location is far from the central commercial district along Route 9W in the Town of Ulster where today there are numerous vacant commercial pads and storefronts. The City of Kingston has other commercial districts including Midtown, Downtown and Uptown that are more advantageous for commercial development.

29. RUPCO’s proposal to historically treat the Alms House and build a new, attractively-designed senior building is an example of QUIMBY: QUality Investment in My Back Yard! The design by Dutton Architecture offers high quality that meets high standards, marries old and new, and is sensitive to the existing site’s natural features:

  • The two primary structures on the site each present unique opportunities to enhance the community with quality design. By listing the Alms House on the National Register of Historic Places, the project is guaranteed to be designed and renovated to the highest standards in the nation for preservation. The building will be designed to comply with the standards of the Secretary of the Interior. According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “Historic places create connections to our heritage that help us understand our past, appreciate our triumphs, and learn from our mistakes. Historic places help define and distinguish our communities by building a strong sense of identity.”
  • The second primary structure on the site will be new construction and designed to exceed EnergyStar® standards. EnergyStar® standards address the health of building occupants with an emphasis on reduction of energy consumption. The building design strategies for the senior residence focus on
    • access to natural light,
    • community spaces for congregating, eating and activities both inside and outside the building, and
    • encouraging ACTIVE participation by the residents who otherwise find themselves in isolation.
    • Our award winning landscape architect has designed a landscape plan that is rich with variety of spaces and experiences.
    • Fully accessible walking paths to encourage active lifestyles and healthy living are a focal point of the landscape design.

Senior and Supportive Housing

30. The project will provide 66 residential apartments:

  • 35 apartments for formerly or temporally un-domiciled homeless adults, age 55 and over. Most are anticipated to be frail and disabled seniors. Others will include Vietnam- era veterans, and other persons with disabilities.
  • 31 apartments will provide affordable housing to 1 or 2 person households comprised of persons age 55 and over.
  • The income limits for persons living in these affordable apartments will be up to 50% and 60% of the area median income (AMI):

Income eligibility at Landmark Place and Rents
31. Everyone residing at Landmark Place will be age 55 and over.

32. The median income in Ulster County is $78,500 for a family of four. This means that half the households in Ulster County earn more than $78,500 and half the households earn less.

33. The ESSHI funding allows RUPCO to provide robust services and staffing at Landmark Place that will include:
a. 24/7 front desk clerk security
b. 2 full-time care providers including and LPN and a Case Manager
c. 1 live-in Maintenance Superintendent
d. 1 part-time Property Manager
e. 1 van with regular transportation service

34. Questions have been raised about the impact to the value of single-family homes when low-income housing is nearby. According to the National Association of REALTORS® Field Guide to Effects of Low-Income Housing on Property Values (Updated May 2017) “most studies indicate that affordable housing has no long-term negative impact on surrounding home values. In fact, some research indicates the opposite.”  Additional studies on the effects of affordable housing on neighboring property values:

Last updated 7/7/17

Building Blocks of Change

Colorful Building blocks of change blogI grew up privileged. I always had ample food, clothing, resources and quality education from prestigious grade schools as well as colleges. I never had to worry if my parents could afford an unexpected expense, such as a doctor’s visit or replace a new electronic item that my brother, sister or I might have broken.

However, my father and both grandparents grew up in poverty. They experienced firsthand what the throes of destitution without familial support. Fortunately, they were able to work to where they are now, which includes having a steady income and being able to raise a family in comfortable means. However, this does not mean that people who can’t climb out of the cycle of poverty are lazy or undetermined to make a change for the better. Maybe they are missing the opportunity of a new job promotion because they have children to take care of during those hours of interview or work. Or maybe they don’t have a strong support system to fall back on for help. Maybe motivation just isn’t in the picture because circumstances have depressed their efforts to look for alternative solutions to save money or to search for better-paying jobs.

I haven’t experienced this type of traumatic situation, but I do know how it feels to live on a smaller budget that easily runs out if I spend a few dollars more on laundry for this week. Going to college, I made a personal goal to only spend the money I earned on rent, food, gas, and travel. This new habit cost me much more than I would have imagined—not just my finite cash source, but the emotional energy to hold back from spending money on needed expenses, such as healthy food for breakfast, versus spending money on fast food trips and unhealthy options. Being prudent for the first time in my life definitely robbed me of pleasures that I now consider luxuries. This spend-thrift habit enlightened me on what it means to work hard for money and not being able to save or spend. This lack created an endless worry over finances and fear of the black vortex of indebtedness.

Coming out of my senior year of college, I was determined to help others and make a difference in the world, but I wasn’t sure which career path to take in order to do so. The VISTA program was my opportunity to see other’s lifestyles and gain a humbling perspective of what it means to live in poverty without the fallback of family or savings. As I am making my way up into the economic and business world, I am doing so alongside the people I am served. It’s is amazing to hear about the challenges and milestones that are now a part of RUPCO’s family history, such as Give Housing a Voice community response to Woodstock Commons resistance. During my time here, I hope my writing offers you a peak through into the gems of what would otherwise remain undiscovered in RUPCO’s large network, and to give a voice to individuals with incredible stories to tell. Though I can’t provide the homes or make sweeping decisions that determines program eligibility, I can write our people’s narratives to promote awareness. That is often enough to set in place building blocks of change.

Monique Tranchina is an AmeriCorps VISTA member and RUPCO’s editorial assistant. A SUNY New Paltz graduate, Monique holds a Bachelors in English, a concentration in Creative Writing and minor in Theater. Look for more storytelling from her in the coming year.

10 Reasons Why Landmark Place IS Right for Kingston

Landmark Place, drone view, rendering of both buildingsBelow is our full comment provided to The Daily Freeman in response to Ward 1 Alderman Tony Davis’ statement. We list here 10 solid reasons why senior supportive housing at Landmark Place makes sense for Kingston taxpayers:

1. We’re proposing a natural re-use that restores the historic Alms House, preserving one of Kingston’s unique landmark buildings.

2. We’ve designed an attractive senior residence in a park-like setting with mature, native-inherent landscape. This design provides a quality alternative to what standard commercial development will bear. Developers we’ve contacted suggest that commercial development on that corner will need to cut down all mature trees lining Flatbush and East Chester Streets, make additional curb cuts, and bring truckloads of fill to raise up the site. Our proposal for Landmark does none of that.

As to what benefits the City of Kingston financially, we disagree with Alderman Davis’ assessment for the following reasons:
3. This site has been available since 2012. To date, no one has knocked on the County or RUPCO’s door offering any grand commercial development scheme or made any offer to buy us out.

4. Our proposal offers the City of Kingston a $20-million dollar site redevelopment that creates local construction jobs, pays professional fees, purchases materials, and supports local businesses.

5. Landmark Place creates 7.5 new, full-time-equivalent permanent jobs available in the City of Kingston.

6. Landmark Place saves taxpayer dollars now being spent on shelter, motel and expensive hospital costs. Each day, roughly 170 people receive emergency housing that costs up to $100 per night; this money comes directly from taxpayer dollars.

7. The property will be put onto the tax role for the first time in its history.

8. As a housing development, our proposal pays the City of Kingston a one-time recreation fee of $132,000. Commercial development is not required to pay that rec fee, leaving the City short $132,000. The rec fee charged to housing development is $2,000 per unit.

9. In rec fees, RUPCO paid $110,000 to the City for The Lace Mill. When you add up the rec fees we will pay for Landmark Place and Energy Square, RUPCO will pay total recreational fees of $356,000, funding the City of Kingston can surely use.

10. Lastly, Kingston hasn’t seen any new senior housing come online since 2001 while other Ulster County towns have created 469 senior units since that year. Our aging population needs dedicated senior housing for those living on modest Social Security and retirement incomes.