February 11, 2021
Kingston, New York — RUPCO, a Hudson Valley nonprofit agency that leads the region in the creation of affordable housing and community development, is commemorating its 40th Anniversary in 2021. While the official anniversary celebration will take place at RUPCO’s annual Community Lunch in the fall, a year-long social media campaign (#RUPCO40Throwback) will feature photos, video, and personal stories that highlight RUPCO’s history and achievements over the past four decades. The agency will also use its anniversary year to underscore the ever-present need in housing and the growing issue of income and opportunity disparity in our communities.
Kevin O’Connor, RUPCO’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “We look forward to celebrating the proud history and impact that RUPCO has had over its 40-year run, but also to use this milestone platform to spread the message that Home Matters and that communities can only thrive when they can provide a home for everyone in their community.”
Formed in 1981 as Rural Ulster Preservation Company and rebranded in 2013 as “RUPCO,” the nonprofit started as a program of Ulster County’s Community Action Agency as part of a statewide rollout of neighborhood and rural preservation programs. Through the years, RUPCO has expanded its geographical reach and breath of services while staying true to its original mission – to create homes and improve communities.
The agency is led by a dedicated, diverse, and volunteer Board of Directors and Advisory Council, and it employs a team of 64 staff members who have a commitment and passion for helping those they serve. Leah Gherardi, RUPCO’s Board Chairperson, said, “The Board’s goal is to support the mission of creating homes, supporting people, and improving communities. It is an honor to be serving on this board and celebrating RUPCO’s 40th Anniversary!”
Across the region, RUPCO develops projects based on needs that have been self-identified by local communities. These initiatives revitalize neighborhoods by providing affordable housing and restoring derelict buildings while also generating jobs for local tradespeople and returning abandoned properties to city and state tax rolls.
Its real estate development portfolio extends beyond small towns into the hearts of Hudson Valley cities with award-winning developments like Woodstock Commons (2013), an intergenerational campus with 53 apartments for seniors, artists and families located in Woodstock, NY; The Lace Mill (2015), a formerly-abandoned, century-old factory that was transformed to create 55 apartments, with preference to artists, in Midtown Kingston; East End Apartments (2018), a scattered-site historic restoration development in Newburgh that created 45 affordable apartments in fifteen buildings; and more recently, Energy Square (2020), the first affordable Net-Zero For Living development in Upstate NY that houses 57 mixed-income apartments and 11,000 square feet of civic and commercial space. Across its 23 properties, RUPCO manages 643 affordable apartments that are home to over 950 residents.
RUPCO’s HomeOwnership Center, opened in 2004, has helped nearly one thousand first-time homebuyers achieve their dreams of owning their own homes and has assisted a similar number of homeowners with rehab modifications.
In 2015, RUPCO created a Program Services department to assist residents and clients with information and referrals to community resources to support families and individuals and keep them stably housed. In addition to administering Ulster County’s Continuum of Care, which provides HUD funding to other local nonprofits that house and support homeless individuals, RUPCO directly manages programs that support the most vulnerable populations including Solutions to End Homelessness (STEPH), Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), and the NYS Supporting Housing Program (NYSSHP).
RUPCO makes an even greater impact on the housing market by administering the Federal Housing Choice Voucher program that provides critically needed rental assistance to households in Ulster and Greene Counties. In 2020, the program issued close to 2000 housing vouchers, mostly to seniors on fixed incomes and people with disabilities.
During its 40 years, RUPCO has gained recognition as a leader in housing and community development revitalization and is a proud member of NeighborWorks® America and Rural LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation).
After a long and accomplished history of creating homes, supporting people, and improving communities, RUPCO’s mission has never been more relevant. “Clearly the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the plight that people face to find and keep affordable housing and to overcome the economic struggle just to meet their family’s everyday needs,” O’Connor said. “However, poverty is not new, nor is the fact that people of color have faced systemic discrimination in housing for decades. We hope to use our 40th Anniversary to shine a light on the housing issues and disparities that people face, as well as foster conversation and action leading towards our vision for strong, vibrant, and inclusive communities with a home and opportunity for everyone.”
RUPCO creates homes, supports people, and improves communities across a broad spectrum of community development solutions, including housing, historic preservation, and neighborhood revitalization in the Hudson Valley. RUPCO creates and maintains quality, sustainable housing and rental opportunities, inspires understanding and acceptance of affordable housing initiatives, and champions pathways to opportunity.