Does Saugerties need 55 more units of affordable rental housing? Some local landlords say no and vow to fight the Country Meadows project on North St. approved by the Planning Board last month. But the Rural Ulster Preservation Company (RUPCO), a partner in the project, points to a study that says the current rental housing stock is too expensive for local incomes.
“We are very much opposed to this project,” said realtor Steve Hubbard, who owns several rental properties. “There are about 10 vacancies at the 50-unit Skyline Woods development. And up until recently, of the eight units I have in one of my buildings, four were vacant. And these are affordable,” Hubbard insists, renting for about $650 monthly for a one-bedroom unit.
Hubbard believes Country Meadows will “undermine the existing rental market.”
Country Meadows developers have said a one-bedroom unit will lease for between $350 and $400 monthly, with two-bedroom units for about $600. Hubbard said his units rent for $650 for a one-bedroom, and $750 for a two-bedroom plus utilities, which he feels is well within the means of local residents.
“There is no need for affordable units because these are affordable,” Hubbard said.
Kevin O’Connor disagrees. The chief executive officer of RUPCO cites the 2009 Tri-County Housing Study, which looked at every community in Ulster, Dutchess and Orange counties. The study assumes housing should cost no more than 30 percent of income. It said 305 units will have to be built by 2015 and another 378 existing units subsidized to fully meet the demand in Saugerties. (According to the 2010 census, there are 3,500 rental units in the town and village.) The study is available on the Ulster County Planning Department’s website.
O’Connor cited the 53-unit Woodstock Commons project. Like Country Meadows, it’s a mix of senior and workforce housing. It had 309 applicants by Oct. 1, and since then there have been an additional 40 or 50.
“This indicates a need,” O’Connor said. “This area needs a cross-section of senior and family affordable housing. We have an aging population and we need quality, affordable, energy efficient, accessible and visitable housing.” O’Connor said that many rentals throughout the Saugerties area are not accessible and visitable for physically disabled individuals.
Hubbard said he knows all about Woodstock Commons because one of his newest tenants is from New York City and is on the waiting list for a unit there. “But he can afford to live here while he waits for a unit there, so where is the need?” Hubbard asked.
“RUPCO says that many of those who will rent these units in Saugerties will be from the area, but my tenant is from New York City.”