BY MICHAEL CAHILL
Four years later, the Hudson Valley is slowly recovering from the housing crisis, but more problems are on the horizon.
Rising rents and the scarcity of affordable housing coupled with federal funding decreases, and an aging population demanding more alternative housing, will have municipalities squeezing even more out of their budgets in the near future, according to a report by the Hudson Valley non-profit Pattern for Progress.
The report was released last week during a luncheon hosted by the non-profit, kicking off the start of its Center for Housing Solutions initiative. Through this initiative, Pattern hopes to work with local housing experts and municipalities to find productive solutions the housing problems of the Hudson Valley.
Joesph Czajka, Vice President of Research and Grant Administration, presented the findings of the report to the gathered audience of about 175 people.
Part of the report that cites statistics from the Cornell University Program on Applied Demographics, talks about the impact that the aging baby boomer generation will have on the Hudson Valley.
Between now and 2030 the population of senior citizen, 65 and older, is expected to increase by 40 percent. While the number of younger people, under 35 years of age is expected to remain the same.
This increase will pose a challenge for local municipalities, as these aging citizens demand more options for alternative housing. As it stands now, the number of senior housing units in the Hudson Valley today is not even enough to meet demand, evidenced by lengthy waitlists for many housing complexes.
Vera Prosper, senior policy analyst at the New York State Office for the Aging, also spoke at the luncheon. She told the crowd that the surge of seniors would force communities to think differently about their zoning.
Prosper emphasized that municipalities also need to plan strategies that allow “aging in place,” for seniors. The term refers to seniors who would rather stay in their homes instead of moving to senior housing. According to Prosper 80 percent of seniors own a home or apartment, and 90 percent of seniors want to stay where they currently live.
Another focus of the report concerned the general availability of affordable housing in the Hudson Valley. The report found that mean hourly wages in the region are significantly outpaced by the fair market rental price for apartments.
According a study released this year entitled “Out of Reach,” from The National Low Income Housing Coalition, which was cited in the report, the fair market rental rate for a two-bedroom apartment in Rockland County is $1,424.
This means that an hourly wage earner with 30 percent of their income going towards housing costs would need to be making $27.38 an hour at 40 hours a week for an annual income of $56,960 a year.
The problem though is that the average hourly wage for renters in Rockland is only $12.10. This leaves 62 percent of renters in the county unable to afford a two-bedroom apartment with housing costs only taking up 30 percent of their budget.
The impact of expensive housing can have a negative impact on the local economies, as workers must spend more and more of their earned money on rent and less money things that drive the economy. The report calls the lack of affordable housing an impediment to local economic development.
Federal and state funding programs that aid in the gathering of capital for affordable housing projects have seen a sharp cut in recent years. The four most critical programs have seen cuts as deep as 46 percent since 2008.
Affordable housing projects rely on funding from these programs to help leverage further investment from the private sector to complete the projects.
To read the full report, and learn more about Pattern for Progress visit their website at: www.pattern-for-progress.org.