The Ulster County Planning Department is launching the Ulster County Housing Smart Communities Initiative to support long-term solutions to the housing supply and affordability challenges
To help support Ulster County communities in tackling the housing crisis, the Ulster County Planning Department is launching the Ulster County Housing Smart Communities Initiative. As Ulster County continues to face a severe housing crisis, Ulster County Housing Smart Communities will provide guidance, support, and resources for local communities that are working towards long-term solutions to their housing supply and affordability challenges.
The program includes a set of short- and long-term actions that communities can take to help to develop and secure affordable housing for all residents. Municipalities participating in the program will receive support from Ulster County Planning Department and partners and will be awarded a UCHSC Certification level based on the number of weighted actions taken by the community. Visit the Ulster County Housing Smart Communities Initiative website to learn more about the program.
The Housing Smart Communities actions were developed to allow for a multi-faceted approach to local housing planning and include strategies focused on community education and planning, preserving the existing housing stock, land-use changes, streamlining the development process, supporting affordable housing, and supporting innovative housing solutions. While the program includes an initial set of Housing Smart Communities actions, the list of actions will likely grow and evolve through community feedback and collaboration with municipalities and regional and local organizations.
Listed below is the initial set of actions municipalities can take as part of the program. Each action has a set of criteria that have been developed to ensure the action contributes to the development and preservation of affordable and workforce housing in the community:
- Create a Municipal Housing Action Plan
- Adopt Short-Term Rental Regulations
- Promote the Development of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
- Adopt Existing Real Property Tax Laws
- Adopt an Affordable Housing Overlay District
- Implement Upzoning and Mandatory Affordable Housing
- Streamline the Development Approval Process
- Adopt a Building Energy Code
- Issue a Request for Proposals to encourage affordable housing development
- Establish Rent Stabilization Regulations (where applicable)
- Implement a Housing Rehabilitation Program
- Create Innovative Housing Solutions
Ulster County is currently facing a severe housing crisis that has been made worse by a number of compounding issues made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the Ulster County Legislature and Ulster County Planning Department have been focused on developing and implementing innovative solutions to address the housing crisis. These include:
- Development of the Ulster County Housing Action Plan in 2021
- Creation of the Ulster County Housing Development Corporation to create safe, decent, and affordable housing through public, non-profit and private sector collaboration
- Implementation of the Ulster County Housing Smart Communities Initiative to provide guidance, support, and resources for local municipalities that are working towards long-term solutions to the housing crisis
Ulster County Housing Key Facts
- Home sale prices and rents are increasing rapidly
- From 2013 to 2019, the average sale price of a single-family home in Ulster County increased by 17% and the average sale price of a 2-3 family home increased by 24%. These increases were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic with the median home sale price increasing 31% over the past three years, from $245,000 in 2019 to $320,000 in 2021. (Source: Office of Real Property Tax Services n.d.)
- Rents are increasing while wages are stagnant. The average rent for one and two-bedroom apartments in county have increased by approximately 40% over the past 10 years (2010-2020). (Source: Ulster County Rental Housing Survey 2020)
- Incomes are stagnant or declining for all but the highest-earning households.
- The lowest-earning households have seen the greatest decline in income between 2010 and 2018, with incomes down 14.3% (after adjusting for inflation). (Source: U.S. Census – American Community Survey, 5-Year Estimates 2010 and 2018)
- Housing costs are typically the largest part of a household budget.
- In 2018, approximately 12% of homeowners and 30% of renters in Ulster County spend more than half of their total monthly income on housing. (Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), “CHAS” (Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy) 2014-2018)
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