FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2022
Mayor Urges Housing Emergency Declaration Based
on New Vacancy Study
Vacancy Study Reveals 1.57% Rental Vacancy Rate
KINGSTON, NY – Mayor Steven T. Noble announces that the City of Kingston and the Office of Housing Initiatives have completed a new rental vacancy study.
In April and May, the City surveyed properties built before 1974 with six or more rental units to determine how many apartments are vacant, how many are occupied, and how many are vacant but not available to rent. Based on the survey data, the City of Kingston has a net vacancy rate of 1.57% for this class of rental properties. The full vacancy report and methodology can be found here.
In a letter to the Common Council, Housing Director Bartek Starodaj wrote, “The current low vacancy rate of 1.57% is having a direct impact on the cost of rental housing in the City of Kingston. It is likely also taking a human toll in the displacement of residents from the City. It is clear that action must be taken to increase the supply of housing, provide stability and tenant protections to those that need it, and bring public resources to bear to assist those that are most vulnerable.”
Based on the results of the 2022 study, the City of Kingston is eligible to declare a housing emergency and opt into the New York State Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA). The rental protections under EPTA can only be applied to buildings constructed prior to 1974 with six or more units. When rent stabilization under EPTA is in place, the annual allowable rental increases would be determined by a County Rent Guidelines Board. The operation of rent stabilized units is also regulated by other rules, including building maintenance standards and penalties, lease renewals, and capital improvements.
“Based on the results of this survey, and the housing issues we’ve long been aware of in the City of Kingston, we can finally declare a housing emergency,” said Mayor Noble. “Under the ETPA, there would be more than 1,200 rental units in the City of Kingston that would be eligible for rent stabilization. We know these residents need relief and would benefit from the preservation of affordable housing. I’m asking the Common Council to pass the ETPA without delay.”
“I want to commend the City of Kingston and the Office of Housing Initiatives for conducting this new rental vacancy study, as we have continuously witnessed the tolling effects of housing insecurity and the lack of decent affordable housing in our city,” said Majority Leader Rita Worthington. “Opting into the New York State Emergency Tenant Protection Act can no longer be delayed, as we must act now to strengthen basic tenant protections to counter instability and displacement of our most vulnerable residents.”
The City completed a similar study in partnership with the Center for Governmental Research in 2020, which determined the rental vacancy rate was 6.7% at that time.
The Laws and Rules Committee will be reviewing the vacancy study and considering a resolution to declare a housing emergency and opt into ETPA in June. If the Common Council passes the resolution, the Department of Housing Initiatives will oversee the implementation of ETPA in coordination with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal. Kingston would be the first New York municipality to opt into ETPA north of Rockland County.
Mayor Noble established the Department of Housing Initiatives in 2020 to support housing planning in the City of Kingston. The Department manages housing-related grants, supports the construction of new market-rate and affordable housing, develops policies to protect existing residents, and addresses the connection between housing and sustainability, health, and mobility. The Department also reviews the disposition of city-owned property suitable for housing development and collaborates with local and regional housing organizations. Current projects include city-wide rezoning efforts, the Tiny Homes Project, Good Cause Eviction, short-term rental guidelines and more. Visit https://kingston-ny.gov/housing.