I’m Louise Parker, and I’m a lifelong Nyacker who’s served as your Village Trustee for 15 years. I’m not just someone who cares about affordable housing, I’m someone who lives in affordable housing. This is personal to me.
The right to a safe and comfortable roof over one’s head is a fundamental right, a human right. Everyone, regardless of financial status deserves a home —without the worry that they cannot provide their families with basic needs. In a world in which market value often rules, finding a balance between affordable housing and healthy economic growth is tricky—but vital.
When I joined the Village Board, we made a bold decision to think big on affordable housing. We looked at existing Village code and decided to require that developers make 20% of any new development over four units affordable—the highest ratio in the country. Nyack has always prided itself on being a trailblazer, particular when it comes to caring for our poor and struggling, and we thought the high percentage was worth a try.
As time went on, we saw that that ratio did not work. Properties remained vacant for years on end and, in a community that desperately needed affordable housing, no new housing was being built. After studying the issue and looking at communities like ours around the nation, we lowered the percentage to 10%. Within months we had a major project that included affordable housing units being built, and numerous others on the table.
Today, we have a second project that is 100% affordable units—33 of them on Main Street—and two more projects that have been through our land -use boards and include affordable units. A fifth project in the Waldron Terrace/Route 59 neighborhood—also a 100%-affordable project—is under discussion with the state. In other words, by reducing the affordable housing ratio, we really went big—with tangible, livable results.
One of the things all Nyack residents love about our Village is its diversity—including its socioeconomic diversity. Don Hammond and the rest of the Village Board and I feel deeply that those who live here, have raised families and supported businesses and formed the very fabric of this community not be pushed out due to high rents. We remain committed to ensuring accessible, available housing for every income level exists throughout the Village.
In addition to the affordable and market rate projects described above, our Village Board has also established two critical programs that will further boost homeownership: 1) a fund to help the elderly repair their homes and 2) a first-time buyers’ loan fund through which lower income Nyack families can be guaranteed a very low interest loan for a downpayment on a first home.
As I’ve said, this is personal. Keeping Nyack affordable is one of this Village Board’s central goals. We can only achieve that with vision, prudence, and a healthy mix of housing stock.