New Paltz considers town-wide affordable housing law

While the affordable housing law on the books in the Village of New Paltz is still in its infancy, its creators believe it would be bolstered by creating similar requirements throughout the rest of the town of New Paltz, as well. Guy Kempe, chair of the village’s affordable housing board, spoke at a joint meeting of village and town leaders last week about the prospect. If a law that’s similar enough to the village’s is passed by town lawmakers, that same affordable housing board could be expanded to oversee implementation throughout the community. However, if the needs prove sufficiently different for denizens outside the village, that may not be possible.

Should such an “intermunicipal housing law,” as Kempe called it, become a reality, it would be a “new thing,” he said. He explained that the village law requires 10% of newly-built apartments to be designated “affordable,” which in this case means that eligible renters earn no more than 60% of the median income in the county; in 2016, that would have translated to $40,477. The units must be of the same quality as others in the same building, and the maximum rent is calculated using a formula which includes the number of bedrooms and average median income for the past three years.

To sweeten the pot — and withstand judicial scrutiny — developers are allowed a “density bonus,” an additional full-rate apartment over and above what’s normally allowed for each required affordable unit. For simplicity, buildings with fewer than ten units are not included in the village law, and it’s hoped that the density bonus will prevent developers from capping their buildings at nine apartments just to avoid the hassle.

In 2011, a new comprehensive plan was drafted for the town, but never adopted. That has not kept anyone who agrees with its tenets to refer to it to justify a position; Kempe pointed out that housing for people regardless of socioeconomic status was among that abandoned…

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