New Paltz town council members readily approved a resolution that could open the door to receiving grants for housing projects. In it, they adopted a “pro-housing community’s pledge” crafted in the governor’s office; this pledge involves committing to being part of the solution to the housing crisis. In particular, that means taking steps toward making it easier to build multifamily and affordable housing, considering regional housing needs in planning decisions, and increasing “development capacity for residential uses.” In short, council members will seek to open the way to a New Paltz with a larger population through a variety of housing plans, up to and including more apartment buildings in some form. If it’s structured similar to the climate-smart initiative, then progress toward these benchmarks will increase the chances of receiving competitive grants, which in turn may be used to advance this housing agenda.
Reports about the nationwide housing crisis sometimes suggest that local zoning can be an impediment to accommodating a growing human population. This program by the governor appears to be an attempt to overcome the desire to limit development by creating financial incentives.
It was agreed to hire Millennium Strategies to provide grant application support for the town. At a cost of $400 per month, town employees will have access to a portal where a wide array of grant opportunities are organized by subject, with detailed summaries posted weekly. The consultants will offer provide guidance, when requested, on what it would take to apply for any particular grant in terms of staff, documentation and professional support. When it’s decided that a grant application will be submitted, consultants at Millennium Strategies will pitch in as much as they are asked to, charging $150 per hour for that extra work.
Supervisor Neil Bettez is confident that this relationship will yield a positive financial result. Grants are essential for any local government, and the amount already budgeted for writing these applications would cover the monthly fee, as well as hiring the firm to submit 2-3 applications a year. It’s possible to reduce the amount going to the consultants by scaling back their work; they could review applications written by town employees, for example. However, the cost of a town employee’s work would likely get paid for against that same budget line.
While a note of caution was sounded by Alex Baer, the deputy supervisor was mollified by the fact that this is only a monthly commitment. Bettez is particularly excited about the portal, which could increase the number of applications submitted and grow the pie.