Poughkeepsie… County Executive William R. Steinhaus and the Dyson Foundation have announced a partnership to fund the Dutchess County Workforce Housing Coalition, an idea developed by the County Executive last October. At that time the County Executive asked the Dutchess County Department of Planning & Development to bring together a consortium of organizations in the community to build a coalition to address workforce housing issues in Dutchess County expanding on the recommendations prepared by the Smart Growth Housing Task Force commissioned by Steinhaus in 2001.
Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus said, “The coalition will be a public/private partnership that will include local governments, employers, housing non-profits, the Economic Development Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce membership, Mid-Hudson Builders’ Association, school officials, county officials and other groups with related interests. Partnerships such as this have proven to be successful models in addressing complex community issues such as housing affordability. No single partner has the ability to address this issue, it is a community issue and must be addressed by the community as a whole and I am thrilled to have the Dyson Foundation on board to make the consortium possible.”
The Dyson Foundation has agreed to provide $277,900 over a three-year period to support the Coalition’s activities. Dutchess County will provide an additional $270,000 over the same period from its Community Development Block Grant and HOME Programs funding.
Robert Dyson, President of the Dyson Foundation said, “The Dyson Foundation funds a variety of nonprofits throughout Dutchess County aimed at strengthening families and the community as a whole. We understand that central to the stability of people's lives is their ability to have a safe, decent and affordable place to live. Whether it is studio apartment for a young person just entering the workforce or a small starter home for a young family, we have an obligation to not just permit, but to encourage and enable the creation of housing for all our residents. Dutchess County's continuing economic growth depends on having a diverse workforce with places to live for all. The Dyson Foundation is pleased to join county government in launching a program to make this issue a priority in Dutchess County and take specific steps to address the problem."
Steinhaus said members of the Coalition will be asked to accept three basic principles:
The county needs for a diverse workforce that lives locally if the county’s economic prosperity is to continue.
A broad range of housing types and prices needed to address the housing needs of a diverse workforce.
Coalition members, and most importantly local municipalities and cities that control development and land use, agree to take specific actions to create workforce housing in their communities. Members and localities will be given a menu of possible actions to take to address workforce housing issues.
The focus of the Coalition will be the creation of housing for Dutchess County households with annual incomes between 60 to 120% of the county median annual family income (apartments for households between 60 to 80% and homeownership for households between 80 to 120%). Dutchess County’s median family income in 2003 was $68,100. The 2004 median family income will be released shortly by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The first initial membership phase has been initiated. The Coalition will focus on three specific activities: advocacy, employer-assisted housing programs and development. The Advocacy section will seek to increase awareness of the issue and educate the public and local officials on the variety of solutions available to communities. The Employer-Assisted Housing Program will include an education component with a down-payment and closing costs assistance program. The final activity will be to work with local municipalities to develop workforce housing, both rental and homeownership, within their community.
The next steps in the formation of the Coalition will be the hiring of a part-time staff person and formation of the Coalition Board of Directors.