Why get certified?
By participating in the Ulster County Housing Smart Communities Initiative, municipalities gain access to technical support, training, tools, resources, and are better positioned to meet local housing needs. Participating communities also gain access to incentives and have opportunities to share best practices with peer communities.
Participating communities will receive support services and incentives from the Ulster County Planning Department to develop and adopt housing-related policies that address the community’s housing affordability challenges. Initial incentives offered by the County include:
- Staff Support Services: Support services from Ulster County Planning Department staff to conduct community outreach on housing-related issues and help develop and adopt the housing-related regulations and policies include in the Housing Smart Communities program.
- Consultant Services: For larger planning, efforts the Ulster County Planning Department will offer outside consulting services to provide further expertise and capacity for addressing specific housing issues. This includes support in the completion of the actions in the Housing Smart Communities program as well as the development of a local Housing Action Plan for the community.
- More Incentives to Come: As the program is implemented, more financial and capacity incentives will become available, to the degree possible, based on feedback from local municipal officials on what more is needed.
Affordable and safe housing for all is essential for a community’s health and prosperity.
A healthy balance of housing options that are affordable provide the following community benefits:
- Economic Benefits – Individuals and communities see many economic benefits from having affordable housing opportunities. For individuals, affordable housing opportunities means they are better in a position to have financial stability and security, and they have better employment outcomes. Housing opportunities are a key part of attracting employers to a community since people in the workforce need a place to live.
- Benefits for Essential Workers – Appropriately priced housing for essential workers will help ensure that Ulster County can accommodate the types of people and families that work in these positions. If it is essential to have these workers in the local economy, then so too is it essential to provide affordable housing for them.
- Benefits for Seniors – As residents age their housing needs change. Providing suitable housing opportunities for seniors that allows them to stay in their community has both individual and community-wide benefits.
- Benefits for Children – A safe place to call home is key to giving children a strong foundation on which to build their lives. Children with safe and secure housing do better in school, are healthier and have better life outcomes.
- Benefits of Targeted Density – Increasing residential density, an often-controversial topic, can be beneficial for a community when it occurs in an appropriate location. Strategic and targeted increases to residential density provides more housing while preserving open space, utilizing existing infrastructure, and improving the efficiency of services.
- Health Benefits – A lack of housing stability can be detrimental to mental and physical health. Households that have access to safe and affordable housing are in a better position to maintain their health and well-being.
- Prevents Homelessness – Public costs that are associated with homelessness like police and emergency room costs do not address the root issue, which is a need for housing and supported services. The problem of homelessness will persist if a lack of affordable housing options continues to push people onto the streets.
- Supported and Transitional Housing Benefits – Transitional housing is designed to help break the cycle of homelessness and poverty by providing affordable units with onsite services. The numbers show that there is a need for supported and transitional housing in Ulster County. In 2020, there were 388 homeless people in the county according to a Point-in-Time count conducted by Ulster County Continuum of Care. Of those 388 homeless, 132 of them were children under the age of 18.