One week before a crucial public hearing on the project, officials at RUPCO announced changes to a proposed supportive housing development at the site of the old Kingston Alms House. The new plan calls for all 66 units at the site to be restricted to residents aged 55 and over.
RUPCO’s plan calls for the conversion of the Flatbush Avenue campus into permanent affordable housing for the formerly homeless and low-income people who struggle with mental or physical disability. Initial plans called for the conversion of the former alms house into 34 studio apartments with seven set aside for the “frail elderly.” The remaining units in the building would be reserved for the formerly homeless, veterans and people with mental health or substance abuse issues. A proposed new building on the campus will contain 32 one-bedroom apartments for low-income seniors over the age of 55. The site would be staffed with security, program managers and a nurse to assist residents. Funding for the staff, programming and rental subsidies would be provided by a state grant to encourage the development of supportive housing to combat homelessness among vulnerable populations. RUPCO officials said that the project was intended to provide safe, affordable permanent housing and support services to a population that now resides in boarding houses, homeless shelters and county-funded motel rooms.
Since it was announced last year, the RUPCO proposal has faced strong opposition from some neighbors. Complaints range from concern about the ability of the area’s sewage system to handle the added to flow to possible presence of a cemetery on a remote portion of the site not slated for construction.
But at a series of planning board meetings and public hearings, concerns about safety and quality of life have dominated. Opponents of the plan expressed concern that a volatile population including recovering addicts and people with chronic mental health issues would have a negative impact on a neighborhood of single family homes and quiet streets. Opponents of the RUPCO proposal are expected turn out at the June 8 public hearing as the Kingston Common Council prepares to weigh whether to a request for a zoning change that will allow the plan to move forward. The hearing will be at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall.
RUPCO officials said that the decision to make the entire project age-restricted was in part an effort to allay community concerns and partially based on the sheer need for senior affordable housing in Ulster County.
“The impact of the baby boomers is off the charts and the number of homeless seniors here in Ulster County is significant,” said RUPCO CEO Kevin O’Connor. “The numbers are stark and we thought maybe there was an opportunity to take the whole campus and make it age-restricted.”