The Kingston Common Council voted (8-1) on a law requiring 10 percent of any new development of five or more units be designated affordable housing.
The legislation comes shortly after Mayor Steve Noble’s executive order, issued in December, which carried the same requirement.
The 10 percent ratio is applied by rounding up; for example, a development of five to ten units would have to have one affordable unit, and a development of 11-20 units would have to have two affordable units, etc.
In December, Noble said the executive order was to stand in place while the Common Council voted on the local law. It went to the Laws and Rules Committee and Zoning Board of Appeals before going in front of the council at this week’s meeting.
The lone no vote was Alderman Patrick O’Reilly.
Alderman Rennie Scott-Childress described it as a “vital” piece of legislation for the city.
“The basic housing plan we have been developing is to create housing at different levels,” said Scott-Childress. “We’ve had a number of developments in affordable housing, workforce housing, and we may have another couple of projects that may be coming online as well along that level. It’s very important to have housing that has people of different income levels.”
He said he believes it will not only help create affordable housing but also allow local youth to grow up surrounded by persons of diverse economic backgrounds, which he said studies have shown to be beneficial.
“This is great for the city of Kingston,” said Aldermen Tony Davis at the council meeting.
Housing costs have been on the radar of local policymakers recently. According to the 2019 Ulster County Rental Housing Survey, the average rent for a one-bedroom increased by 10.2 percent from 2018-19 ($933-$1028) and 16.8 percent from 2015-19 ($880-$1028); for a two-bedroom the increase was 8 percent from 2018-19 ($1198-$1294) and 34.9 percent from 2015-19.
The pandemic-spurred flight from New York City that caused homes in the Kingston area to increase at the fastest rate in the nation has also caused rents to spike as well. A soon-to-be released study on housing in Ulster County a deputy county executive called “shocking” found half of all renters can’t afford their rent, and concluded the county’s supply of housing is inadequate and overpriced for its population.