Lack of affordable housing in Woodstock is nothing new. Woodstock has always had some of the highest property values in the area, which exacerbates a lack of affordable housing.
Housing that is considered affordable should cost no more than 30 percent of income. More than 40 percent of Woodstockers pay more than they should, according to Pattern for Progress’ 2020 Housing Report.
The Woodstock Housing Committee is seeking input on ways to provide affordable places to live amid rising real estate prices and rent. “We hope people will get excited about possible solutions and be in touch,” co-chair Susan Goldman said.
Renters bear the brunt of increased costs with 70 percent paying more than they should, according to the report. “The pandemic has definitely exacerbated the situation,” said committee co-chair Kirk Ritchie, with ever-more Woodstockers being displaced from their town. “Every time you see the next real-estate transaction, you realize, Oh, my god, is there going to be an effective and affordable solution in this town ever? because the prices are just getting so crazy.”
“We’re still seeking residents’ input. It’s been very, very important to this committee from the start,” Ritchey said. “Prior to the pandemic, we held focus groups. We held some interviews with business leaders and some diverse representation of Woodstock’s renters, owners and volunteer organizations.”
The committee the pivoted into a social-media campaign. A focus on changing affordable housing to community housing was made to remove the stigma attached to “affordable” and foster a better understanding of the housing needs. A public forum February 22 via videoconferencing will discuss housing opportunities.
The committee is working with Supervisor Bill McKenna and the town board to promote sustainable housing development on town-owned land, according to Ritchey.
Home-sharing is one solution that can be implemented in the meantime. “There are many people who have had to leave Woodstock and they’d like to come back. They are tied to the community. They feel close to the community,” Goldman said. “Home-sharing is a way that this could be possible.”
A survey is intended to identify people who have a home and the questions will help them consider if opening their home to a renter is appropriate for them, Goldman explained. Rental income could help with bills and the renter could help with chores or provide companionship in exchange for a below-market rent.
The survey also seeks input from people interested in renting a room in someone’s home or a cottage on the property. “These programs have been successful largely because they’re managed by an organization that does thorough vetting of both parties and creates agreements, pilot test residencies sometimes and is available for troubleshooting when they get into conflicts,’ Goldman said.
Family of Woodstock can provide assessment and vetting. The committee is working on a grant to make this possible.
“This is a group that is pushing a very large boulder up the hill and they don’t shy away from that task,” said councilman and committee member Richard Heppner. “Everybody comes to the meetings committed. Everybody does their homework. The professionalism and expertise that’s growing in this committee is just remarkable to see.”
Councilman Reggie Earls complimented the committee. “It is very important. We’ve lost a lot of good residents to this issue and to see that you all are really talking about doing some major work, and really changing how things work is really important,” Earls said.
Those interested in helping can email email@example.com.
The home-sharing survey can be accessed from the front page of the town’s website, woodstockny.org, or the direct link: https://forms.gle/esw81zHwZx5ueCZ46.