Judge Overturns Kingston Planning Department Decision on Landmark Place

This week, RUPCO received notice of Judge Mott’s decision to overturn the City of Kingston’s Planning Board’s denial of RUPCO’s application for site plan approval and special use permit for Landmark Place. “Judge Mott’s carefully reasoned decision found that the Planning Board’s action to deny our site plan and special use permit was arbitrary and capricious, in contradiction of its own prior environmental findings,” RUPCO CEO Kevin O’Connor said.

RUPCO’s proposal for Landmark Place is to create 66 supportive and affordable homes for seniors age 55 and over. RUPCO has set lofty goals for Landmark Place. “It will create significant jobs during construction and operation, contribute to the local tax base and preserve an important & inaugural part of our City’s history while contributing to the health, stability and well-being of our elders,” said O’Connor. “More than ever, people are waking up locally to the fact that it is important to have local ownership and good stewards of our rental housing with management that is responsive to the residents and community at large. More than ever, people are experiencing firsthand the upset that occurs when housing becomes unaffordable, unsafe or both. Now is the time for this community to embrace Landmark Place as a new community asset, creating a well-designed, well-staffed and managed senior community that will provide safe, accessible and affordable homes for our elders for the next half century.”

Rebecca Martin, KingstonCitizens.org commented: “I am pleased that RUPCO rightfully prevailed in the recent court case for the Alms House. The project, the first rental housing for senior citizens built in the City of Kingston since 2009, is one that our community sorely needs. It will provide 66 affordable, permanent rental housing units to those 55 years or older, and who in some cases are vulnerable including veterans and frail or disabled seniors. To know that this historic landmark will be brought back for this purpose is deeply gratifying.”

The property was listed on the State and National Register of Historic Place in February 2018. RUPCO intends to use private equity, debt, Low Income and Historic Tax Credits to complete construction and enjoys a commitment for operating support from the NY’s Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI) program.

Rennie Scott-Childress, Majority Leader, Common Council said: “There is a clear need in Kingston for housing for elderly folks who are housing insecure. The Court’s decision today will enable RUPCO to build safe, affordable housing for scores of them at Landmark Place.“

O’Connor concluded, “We now look forward to the Planning Board completing its job by granting site plan approval and issuing the special use permit for Landmark Place subject only to reasonable conditions normally imposed.”

The Mews at Prattsville accepting applications for November 2018 move-in

Since Hurricane Irene’s record flooding in August 2011 which decimated downstream river communities throughout the region, Prattsville has been in flux, rebuilding slowly and steadily. Now, the community is finally seeing its master plan come to life. In the aftermath of the storm which washed away businesses, homes and hope in the hamlet of 700, the Town of Prattsville stood fast and conducted community planning sessions to set a vision for its future. Part of that community master plan involved the set-aside for rental housing for seniors and working families with modest incomes, The Mews at Prattsville.

Kearney Realty Group answered the call and, with funding from New York State Homes & Community Renewal, is currently constructing 45 new apartments just outside of town at 5456 Washington Street. The Mews at Prattsville offers a multigenerational housing development with 32 one-bedroom, 8 two-bedroom and 4 three-bedroom rentals available starting November 2018. Thirty-six apartments at The Mews at Prattsville (one rental is set aside for a resident superintendent) come with project-based HUD (U.S. Housing & Urban Development) rental assistance to help residents offset renting costs within this newly constructed, housing development. These apartments have a maximum household income limit of $23,650 for an individual and $27,000 for a couple. The affordable apartments without rental assistance have a maximum household income limit of $32,400 for a couple, $36,480 for three people and $40,500 for a household of four.

Your family Size              With rental assistance    Without rental Assistance               
1 person                             $23,650                               $28,230
2 person                             $27,000                               $32,400
3 person                             $30,400                               $36,480
4 person                             $33,750                               $40,500
5 person                             $36,450                               $43,740
6 person                             $39,150                               $46,980

“The Mews at Prattsville provides our aging neighbors the opportunity to live in the community they helped build,” notes Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer at RUPCO, the Hudson-Valley based community developer which will oversee the marketing, lease-up and management of The Mews post construction. “Opportunity also exists for eight families to enjoy affordable, townhome-style living in the heart of town. Prattsville is a community of opportunity. It provides opportunity for RUPCO to collaborate with Kearney Realty Group and NYS Homes & Community Renewal to bring Prattsville’s vision to fruition that in turn provides opportunity for local seniors and working families to find impeccable apartments at affordable rents right here in Greene County.” Amenities at The Mews include energy-efficient appliances, on-site superintendent, onsite laundry, activity room, playground and exercise area.

“We are proud to introduce this beautiful new affordable senior housing with eight town homes in The Town of Prattsville,” adds Ken Kearney, president of Kearny Realty & Development Group. ”This development along with the adjacent medical and community centers will provide necessary housing and services to the Prattsville area.”

NYS Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “The Mews at Prattsville will provide a safe and sustainable home for seniors and families in Greene County.  As part of Governor Cuomo’s $20 billion, five-year Housing Plan, we are ensuring that all New York communities are built back stronger and more resilient by investing in affordable rental housing that will protect against severe weather.  We are excited to see applications open for The Mews at Prattsville, which will give about 100 prospective residents an opportunity to live, thrive and age in place in this new development.”

“We are accepting residential applications for the September 7th lottery. Applications received prior to September 5th will be eligible for the initial lottery but we will be accepting applications after that date,” adds Jake Michels, Director of Property Management at RUPCO. “We are eager to pre-qualify and confirm as many candidates as possible now, getting them ready to move-in quickly in November 2018. I encourage people to apply, and not to disqualify themselves prior to our review.” Applicants are encouraged to call (845) 331-2140 ext. 237 if they have questions or need a hard copy application mailed to them. Applications can also be downloaded online through www.rupco.org/the-mews or at www.NYSHousingSearch.gov

RUPCO fulfills its commitment to purchase property from County agency

Landmark Place, drone view, rendering of both buildingsLocal community developer continues with plans to deliver on vital needs of local community and senior residents.

Regional community developer RUPCO became the proud owner of the former Kingston Almshouse, located at 300 Flatbush Avenue, Kingston. The purchase fulfills RUPCO’s commitment and intent to purchase the property from Ulster County’s Economic Development Alliance (UCEDA), as RUPCO continues the process towards local approvals for the creation of Landmark Place, a senior apartment development on the nearly 15 acre site proposed by RUPCO to address the vital needs of the community.

“We have honored our commitment spelled out in the Agreement for the Purchase and Sale of Real Property that we signed with UCEDA in September 2016 to acquire the property for $950,000,” notes Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer at RUPCO. “At RUPCO, we believe that there are vital interests for the City of Kingston to meet including the regional need for affordable housing. Across the County, we see Cities moving in similar ways to create affordable and supportive housing for the growing tsunami of the elderly population that is occurring due to the aging of the baby boomers.”

Once open, the campus at Landmark Place will bring the following benefits to the community:

  • 66 studio and one bedroom, permanent rental apartments
  • Affordable and supportive housing strictly for seniors, age 55 and over
  • Local property taxes paid for the first time since 1874
  • $186,000 in one-time recreational fees paid to the City’s Recreation Department
  • An estimated 50 construction jobs and 10 permanent jobs

RUPCO hopes to advance its site plan review work with the City of Kingston Planning Board next month. In line with the building’s historic purposes, RUPCO is repurposing the Kingston City Almshouse at 300 Flatbush Avenue, to create a senior-living campus called Landmark Place. The historic building will contain 34 apartments – a mix of studios and one bedroom apartments – and a new residential building designed by local architect Scott Dutton is proposed to offer 32 one-bedroom apartments. All apartments will serve seniors, age 55 and over; 35 apartments will offer supportive services for special needs populations including a minimum of seven apartments dedicated to the frail or and disabled elderly.  “We’re ready to continue the process towards making safe, affordable homes for our elders including Vietnam era veterans who helped make Kingston what it is today. Landmark Place marks the first affordable housing for seniors in Kingston since 2001 when Brigham Center on O’Neill Street was built,” adds O’Connor.

Landmark Place will help to meet the critical demand for affordable rental housing identified by the Three County Regional Housing Needs Assessment adopted by Ulster County in 2009. This assessment demonstrated that by the year 2020, Kingston’s Renter Affordability Gap and Total Demand would be 6,931 units and it called for the building of over 1,000 new affordable rental units to help meet the demand. “Since that study was published, only 55 affordable units at the Lace Mill have been built in Kingston,” said O’Connor. “It also answers Governor Cuomo’s call for permanent supportive housing to serve our vulnerable populations including frail and disabled seniors, veterans and other homeless individuals.

RUPCO’s application to the National Registers of Historic Places, on behalf of the City of Kingston and Ulster County, was approved in February and officially added the City’s first civic building, built in the mid-19th century, to the list of State and Federal historic lists of sites worthy of preservation.  “Our nomination of the Kingston City Almshouse was recommended and advanced to the National Park Service for consideration and approved by both the State Historic Preservation Officer and National Park Service Keeper of the Register,” explains Guy Kempe, Vice President of Community Development at RUPCO. “Our request is a win for historic preservation in a city and region known for its historic value. Thanks to all who contributed to the first step towards preservation of this historic structure for future generations.”

For more information about Landmark Place, RUPCO’s plans for senior housing, and architect Scott Dutton’s design overview, visit RUPCO’s YouTube Page and Landmark Place Playlist.

From Homeless to Housed: Leslie Mann’s Story of Growth

Leslie Mann wakes up with a fridge and cupboard full of food, a roof over her head, amenities for daily living, and the man of the house, Mutai, a 10lb terrier who licks her incessantly. The sun shines through her tall windows, dog figurines line the window sills, garden beds fill the view outside her front door. Book-stuffed shelves with her favorite literature are within reach from her wheelchair. Hers is a place to call home.

But attaining a handicap-friendly, affordable home wasn’t easy to grasp.

Mann grew up in NYC and lived with her parents while a young adult. Childhood was emotionally difficult for her. She didn’t fit in with groups at school and her interests in western-cowboy history and poetry didn’t align with other childrens’ fancies. Later, she earned a living as a factory worker and a filing clerk until her family moved and her brother went to college.

Mann struggled and eventually became homeless after her NYC apartment burned down. For a while, she lived on the streets, seeking shelter in abandoned buildings and eating what she could find in garbage cans. Her housing instability prevented her from owning a dog, but she found ways to relocate stray dogs in the City, asking around who would take care of a rescue cared for on pauper’s salary.

She found solace in good deeds. One day, she overheard a young couple at odds with each other, when the young man raged and grabbed his dog by the neck. Mann swiftly intervened and took the dog away, but not without struggle. He acted on impulse, threatening Mann with a knife. On-foot patrol officers quickly intervened and no one was hurt. Now, her eyes shine when she thinks back to the memory. She saved a dog’s life risking her own.

People took notice of her acts. They wanted to help her the way she was saving dogs’ lives. Regular goers to the dog park saved money to help her move into her first upstate apartment— she settled first in Woodstock, then Lake Katrine in a Motel 19. Lake Katrine suited her needs. For a while she walked everywhere, finding comfort in familiar habits, and eventually she applied to live at The Stuyvesant, supportive housing for seniors in Kingston, NY, owned and operated by RUPCO.

The Stuyvesant offered neighbors in nearby apartments who shared similar interests, a pet-friendly policy, and the flight of stairs that hindered her mobility. When RUPCO completed the Woodstock Commons in 2013, Mann transferred to a ground floor apartment. Of course, she kept Mutai, now 14 years old.

Independent Living has deepened and widened her personal growth. On spring and summer days, the surrounding outdoors are “wonderful and unbeatable.” She finds pleasure in taking care of her canine companion, ensuring he lives the life of a pampered pup. Meals on Wheels delivers food to her every week. Her healthcare is in place. When she isn’t listening to audio books or watching movies, she brainstorms ideas for a book about a man dedicated to his dog; a quasi-reversal of dog loyalty to humans, a testament to her life’s work.

She isn’t finished making a difference. There’s always more dogs to rescue, more activism to spark. With her sense of Home established and her accessibility needs met in a supportive housing community, Leslie’s starting a new chapter in her quest for goodwill.

 

 

Thanksgiving Comes Early to Tongore Pines

Property managers deliver Thanksgiving fruit-filled, goodie baskets to two Tongore Pines resident ladiesResidents at Tongore Pines got a surprise visit last Tuesday from Property Managers Lindsey Wygant and Tasyka DeRosalia. The two delivered Thanksgiving fruit-filled goodie baskets, compliments of the Tongore Pines Board of Directors. “We missed holding our annual August picnic this year. We didn’t want to miss the opportunity to let our residents know how much we appreciate them,” noted one board member.

Tongore Pines offers 19 one-bedroom apartments in a discreet supportive housing setting in Olivebridge.  The complex is dedicated to seniors 62 and over with annual earnings in the lowest Social Security incomes.

Senior Resident Finds Peace of Mind At Theater Workplace

Ever go to the Rosendale Theater to watch the latest film? In the booth, the projectionist is a humble man dedicated to his work. Anthony Cacchio, a Park Heights resident at RUPCO’s senior housing campus in Rosendale, NY, casts glimmers of life through his own lens. He’s glad to be serving the community, and intends to keep working as long as he is able.

For over 40 years, Cacchio has been working in the theater business to ensure the sound and video quality are up to company standards. He works closely with an engineer who shows him how to operate the equipment, and if there is a technical issue, he can bank on the engineer to fix the problem in a jiffy—even from home. Indeed, growing up without lightning speed electronics that send signals in milliseconds makes living in this era a bit foreign, but he manages to learn new skills and train every once in a while to keep up with the ever-changing technological advancements.

Growing up in a much different period of film and TV, Cacchio remembers his favorite shows from the 1930s, at the beginnings of the film industry. He laments that he does not watch recordings of them because they remind him of young celebrities who embodied vigor and have since passed away or have consummated their years of acting. So Cacchio gets his drama fill from working night shifts six to seven days a week, and prefers his home life to be quiet and serene.

He has been living at Park Heights for 5 years now, “and was lucky to get in right away.” Cacchio describes the home-finding experience as an easy process. “RUPCO gave me a nice comfortable place, in a nice area, and I am content here.”

Back when he was living at his parent’s home, he was also content with the peace that large plots of land could afford. Cacchio remembers his father used to cut the grass with a John Deere tractor. Every once in a while, neighborhood grandchildren would visit and provide noise that the day-to-day environment lacked. When his parents passed away, he and his brother inherited their childhood home. But, he explained, it just wasn’t suitable for happy living; the reminders of his parents were just too much when he walked past their room. Apart from the constant emotional tug, Cacchio decided that one person doesn’t belong in a six-room house, when a family could easily enjoy the space. Selling the property, he ventured on to rent an apartment at Park Heights, where he lives close by ladies who are familiar faces in his daily routines. “We treat everybody as buddies,” he says; if the ladies don’t see him for a day or two, they worry.

Anthony Cacchio, senior resident at Park HeightsLuckily, 85-year-old Cacchio has good genes. His father lived until he was 91; his mother, 90. He has clear intentions to keep on working, and “to make the best I can out of it.” Perhaps his hard work ethic is the family trait that keeps them so young; Cacchio used to assist his father in the tile and marble industry, working for other businesses to provide construction work.

With years of experience behind him, Cacchio continues to play an important role in the community, including being a happy parent to his cat, “Princess.” She lets him know what foods she does and doesn’t like, and insists that he stay in the room until she finishes eating. Her melodramatic personality entwined with a need for attention lends unique companionship, and Cacchio appreciates her taking center stage in their Park Heights home while he works behind-the-scenes.

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

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

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.

“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.