Ulster County Launches Program to Support Local Communities in Tackling the Housing Crisis

Posted September 20, 2022

The Housing Smart Communities Initiative, developed in partnership with the Ulster County Legislature and the Ulster County Housing Advisory Committee, will help municipalities work towards long-term solutions to housing supply and affordability challenges


KINGSTON, N.Y. - The Office of the Ulster County Executive announced the launch of the Housing Smart Communities Initiative, developed in partnership with the Ulster County Legislature and the Ulster County Housing Advisory Committee. The program provides guidance, resources and incentives to municipalities and local communities that are working towards long-term solutions to the county’s housing supply and affordability challenges. 

“Like much of the country, Ulster County is currently facing a housing crisis, which has only been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. In County government, we have been focused on  identifying and implementing solutions to change this trajectory,” Acting Ulster County Executive Johanna Contreras said. “In 2021, we released the Ulster County Housing Action Plan, which highlighted the housing affordability gap in the County and provided five major strategies where public, non-profit and private sector collaborations could make a difference. As one of these strategies, the Housing Smart Communities Initiative brings long-term solutions to the housing crisis directly to our municipalities.”

“The Legislature is looking forward to working with the Executive Office on implementing this important initiative,” Vice Chair of the Ulster County Legislature Eve Walter, Chair of the Health, Human Services and Housing Committee, said. “Together, we can work with municipalities to put these critical ideas into practice.” 

“The launch of Ulster County’s Housing Smart Communities initiative is the exciting culmination of hard work and vision by the County and all of us who were fortunate to play a part,” said Deborah DeWan, member of the County Housing Task Force, Woodstock Housing Committee, and Co-Chair of the Woodstock Housing Oversight Task Force. “At its core, it puts state-of-the-art, community-oriented principles into practice for municipalities large and small seeking to solve their housing challenges in an achievable and sustainable way. We’re working in Woodstock to do just that.”

The Ulster County Housing Smart Communities Initiative includes actions that municipalities can take to help build and secure housing that is affordable for all residents. The actions create a multi-faceted approach to local housing planning and development, and include the following:

  • Create a Municipal Housing Action Plan
  • Adopt Short-Term Rental Regulations
  • Support Development of Accessory Dwelling Units
  • Adopt Existing Real Property Tax Laws
  • Establish Rent Stabilization Regulations
  • Implement Upzoning and Mandatory Affordable Housing Standards
  • Adopt an Affordable Housing Overlay District
  • Conduct a Housing Sites Inventory and Issue Requests for Concepts 
  • Streamline Development Approval Process
  • Establish a Housing Rehabilitation Program
  • Create Innovative Housing Strategies

The County anticipates that the initial set of Housing Smart Community actions will grow and evolve through community feedback and collaboration with municipalities and regional and local organizations. 

Municipalities participating in the program will receive support and incentives from the Ulster County Planning Department and will be awarded a Housing Smart Communities certification level (Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum) based on the number of weighted policy actions taken.

Two public webinars will be held to provide an overview of the Housing Smart Communities Initiative and to help catalyze participation in the program among Ulster County communities.

Housing Smart Communities Webinar #1 - Monday, October 3rd at 6 PM: Register

Housing Smart Communities Webinar #2 - Monday, October 17th at 6 PM: Register

Learn more about the Housing Smart Communities certification process at https://hsci.ulstercountyny.gov/