by Louise Parker
As someone who lives in an affordable housing complex, affordable housing has always been important to me. The right to a roof over ones head is a basic human need. Everyone, regardless of financial status should have the opportunity to live safely and comfortably without worrying whether they have enough to provide basic needs for their families. In a world where the free market often rules, finding an equation to ensure that affordable housing exists while not discouraging health growth is of vital importance and a tricky balance to reach.
In my early days on the Village Board, when we decided to add an affordable housing component to our village code, our first thoughts on how this can be accomplished was to think big.We decided that even though it was the largest percentage in the nation, 20% of any new development over four units should be affordable and the developer requirement on projects. 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. But as time went on, we could see that that ratio did not work.
Properties were remaining vacant for years on end and, in a community that desperately needed affordable housing, no new housing was being built. After further thinking, and looking at communities like ours around the nation, we lowered the percentage to 10% and within months we had 1 project being built that included affordable housing units and numerous others being discussed. Today we have a second project that is all affordable units, 33 of them, on Main Street and two more projects that have been through our land use boards and include affordable units. We also have a second 100% affordable project that the state has had preliminary discussions with us about developing in the Waldron Terrace/Rt 59 neighborhood.
One of the things all Nyack residents love about our Village is it’s diversity which includes socio-economics. It is important that those that have lived in the Village of Nyack not feel that they are being pushed out due to high rents. It is why the Village Board remains committed to ensuring that housing at all levels exists throughout the Village. Currently there is one affordable and low income building being built and two market rate, meaning rates appropriate for those in the middle income bracket, projects set to break ground. We have also established a fund for the elderly to repair homes and a first time buyers loan fund through which lower income Nyack families can be guaranteed a very low interest loan for a down payment on a first home.
Keeping Nyack affordable is one of our main goals. We can only achieve that with a healthy mix of housing stock.