Ulster County Emergency Family Housing Initiative at Kingston Motel Shelters Nearly 40 Families

Posted December 14, 2023

KINGSTON, NY - Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger reports that emergency family housing at the Kingston Motel, formerly the Rodeway Inn, is helping to meet a significant need while also keeping many children within their school district and avoiding the long bus rides that come with out-of-district emergency housing placements. The County initiative, which also brings services and assistance to the newly-remodeled Kingston Motel, was launched on October 23 and has to date provided shelter to nearly 40 families, totaling over 125 people. 


Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger expressed satisfaction with the progress, stating, "I wanted to create a safe and comfortable environment for families in this trying time in their lives, and worked with motel owners as well as our County team in social services, health, transit, and the Sheriff's office to implement a plan to improve accommodations, expand access to public transportation and, for the first time, bring social services assistance on site."  




The former Rodeway Inn had for years been a site for emergency housing placements of both individuals and families, but County Executive Metzger halted all placements in April after she received notice from the NYS DEC that the motel was in violation of its wastewater operating permit. Metzger was also concerned about motel conditions after hearing complaints and making her own unannounced visit to the site.


In late summer and early fall, the demand for emergency housing in Ulster County surged, with the number of residents needing placements increasing from an average of 300 to over 500 people. Newly unhoused families drove much of the increase. As Metzger explained, "We urgently needed a local solution so that children could stay closer to where they attend school, and I saw in the former Rodeway an opportunity to turn a negative situation into a positive one." 


The County Executive negotiated numerous improvements by motel owners at the owners' expense, with the goal of dedicating the majority of rooms to family placements rather than a mix of individuals and families. Rooms were remodeled, the parking lot was resurfaced and restriped, a playground set for children was added to the grounds, and a filtered water bottle-refilling station was installed for guests, among other changes. The motel also made improvements to the wastewater system to bring the system into compliance with state regulations. 


Beyond securing physical improvements to the site, Metzger also developed a plan with County departments to bring services on-site, including "office hours" by County social services staff, routine patrols by the Sheriff's Office, and regular UCAT bus service. In the time since emergency housing placements have resumed, UCAT has transported a total of 688 passengers from the Kingston Motel, enabling parents and families to get to work, stores,  and appointments and meet other essential needs.  


The County plans to extend Social Services supports to other emergency housing locations in the coming year through a new special Housing and Homelessness unit within the Department of Social Services proposed by County Executive Metzger and passed as part of the 2024 Operating Budget.  






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