Developers for Country Meadows, a 55-unit project originally approved for senior housing, have added affordable housing to the mix, partnering with Rural Ulster Preservation Company (RUPCO) in hopes of securing state funding.
“There just isn’t any aid money out there for senior units [alone],” said officials from Premiere Development.
Pat Simmons from Premiere and RUPCO CEO Kevin O’Connor spoke to the Village Planning Board about the project last week. O’Connor gave a PowerPoint presentation that began with a brief history of the Woodstock Commons project, a similar-sized project opening this January. Applicants for housing there were screened for income requirements, with the remaining 226 of those applicants (133 seniors and 93 low-income families) entered into a lottery. Next, interviews, credit checks and background checks will be conducted.
The same will be done for the planned Saugerties units. “We screen our applicants,” O’Connor said. “We do it for the safety of those residents living at the development and neighbors. We take it very seriously.”
If there are problems, such as non-payment of rent, creating problems, or destruction of property, “We evict for cause,” said O’Connor. The incomes of applicants are plugged into a formula that weighs family size and median area income. For example, a family of four cannot make more than 50 percent of Ulster County’s median income for that household size, which is $73,000.
O’Connor said the project is not Section 8 housing, a federally subsidized program opposed by many towns. Section 8 has two parts: the first gives vouchers to help low-income people pay their rent and the other pays rent for the low income individuals and families directly to the landlord.
Simmons said his company will not be taking any direct Section 8 payments.
While not ruling out people with Section 8 vouchers from renting a unit, O’Connor said he doubts that will happen.
O’Connor said Saugerties needs more affordable housing. Three years ago, RUPCO conducted a Tri-County housing needs study in Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster Counties (and of every municipality within those counties), and found that about 100 affordable housing units are needed in Saugerties. “The need is staggering,” he said.
Affordable housing is usually a more controversial issue than senior housing. A project proposal for Glasco, which has stalled, drew scores of protestors to local meetings and led to the defeat of long-time town supervisor Greg Helsmoortel, who contended the town needed more affordable housing.
Rents are estimated to be from $300 to $600, Simmons said, with about 10 units at the low end of the scale.
A number of residents who turned out at the meeting left frustrated that the board would not accept comments.
Board chair George Lewandowski said the meeting was specifically for Premier Development, the project’s developer, to answer board members’ questions, and that residents can submit their questions in writing to the board and they will be answered at the next meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 14.