NYS Rural Advocates’ 40th Annual Meeting takes place in Cooperstown

The board and members of the New York State Rural Advocate converged on Cooperstown on November fifteen and sixteenth for the organization’s 40th annual meeting.  Attendees voted to install two new members to the Rural Advocates Board of Directors and reelected four current members. 

New board members are April Ramadhan, executive director of the Rural Revitalization Corporation serving Cattaraugus County and Jaylyn Heames who has recent been named executive director of Snow Belt housing in Lewis County.  Board members elected to a renewed, two year term include M.T. (Peg) O’Leary of the Community Services Program in southern Dutchess County, Tracy Gibeau, Albany County Rural Housing Alliance, Barb Lamphere, Barb Lamphere Consulting and Bruce Misarski, executive director of  the Housing Assistance Program of Essex County.  The new and reelected members join seated members Julie Chevalier of Community Progress, Inc,; Renee Bloom, Keuka Housing Council; Ron Filmer, Schoharie Rural Preservation Company,: Jill Alcorn,  Genesee Valley Rural Preservation Company, Antonia Besculides, Western Catskills Community Revitalization Council,; Joshua Freifeld, Chautauqua Home Rehabilitation and Improvements Corp.; Larry Krajeski, Catskill Mountain Housing Development Corp, and  Sheila Neville, Construction Management Associates, LLC

NYS Rural Advocates Board of Directors reorganizational meeting at the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown, November 16

With annual meeting business out of the way, the two dozen members gathered at the Otesaga and several other members joining by zoom went on to discuss a wide range of issues impact the work of community based housing organizations in rural New York State.  The group focused their attention on several issues areas including manufactured housing, Small rental projects, the development of homeownership opportunities and the operation of the  Office of Community Renewal’s Local Programs.

Later in the day, the gathering was joined via zoom by Assembly Housing Chair Steven Cymbrowitz and the Chair of the Senate Committee on Housing. Construction and Community Development.  The conversation with the Housing Chairs focused on several current issues including the renewal of the State’s Five Year Housing Capital Plan, the status of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and efforts to “green up” New York’s housing development efforts.

Before the meeting adjourned, Rural Advocates members took time out to celebrate two of our colleagues who have long been long time supporters of Rural Advocates.  Virginia (Ginny) Bates has been a fixture in rural New York advocacy and program delivery for all of three decades.  Once a program specialist at Steuben Church People Against Poverty (later known as Arbor Development), Ginny moved on to a role supporting program delivery for several southern tier and Finger Lakes housing groups.  Ginny’s husband Bob was one of three original incorporators of New York State Rural Advocates in 1981 and was an active in the Section 515 rural rental housing program.  Although Bob has since moved on to be a vintner and restaurateur, the products of his affordable housing work all across rural New York.   

On Tuesday the 16th,  NYS Rural Advocates Board held its annual reorganizational meeting at the Otesaga.   After seating the newly elected board members, board reelected the current slate of officers with Julie Chevalier as Chair, Peg O’Leary vice chair (though it is agreed that Julie and Peg will function as co-chairs), Ron Filmer as treasurer and Renee Bloom as secretary.

The board went on to continue their discussion of a proposed 2022 budget recommendations and the broader legislative agenda and refine plans for Rural Advocates’ annual Legislative gathering in Albany scheduled for February 23,2022.

2021 New York State Legislative Session Comes to an End

The New York State Legislature brought its 2021 session to a close in the late night hours of June 10th as planned.  For not for profit housing interests, it was a busy, productive session that included a $212 billion state budget with historic increases in spending for affordable housing.  The session also saw the creation of a number new housing programs and the passage of bills that impact housing.

NYS Rural Advocates has discussed details of the newly adopted State Budget on several occasions but we need to comment here on the historic nature of the overall spending plan.  Spending on the affordable housing accounts we follow increased by over 300 per cent over the budget adopted in March of 2020.  Much of the increased spending can be attributed to funds provided through federal COVID relief measure while core funding for the State’s cadre of housing program came from more familiar sources.

The adopted budget increased spending in the Capital Projects Fund from $230 million to nearly $900 million with a fresh infusion of $186 million to fund supportive housing efforts and a $325 million investment in the State’s public housing stock.  Another large increase in capital spending results from a $100 million fund to support the conversion of vacant hotels and other commercial space to provide homeless housing.

The $600 million increase in cash spending on housing from the Aid to Localities bill is entirely attributable to the investment of federal COVID funds in programs intended to protect homeownership.  Of this amount, the Homeownership Protection Program (HOPP) is to receive $20 million a year for three years to support the program’s ongoing foreclosure intervention program.  The balance of these funds will be available to provide direct assistance to homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure.

A number of bills impacting affordable housing were passed, many in the last hours of the session.  The Affordable Housing Corporation statue was amended to increase per unit funding caps from $35 to $50 thousand.  In State designated high cost areas the limit was increased from $40 to $75 thousand.  The amended statute will also make provision for optional long term affordability requirements on grants of over $40 thousand.  The statutory changes will not take effect for 240 days from passage which Rural Advocates hope will provide the Legislature with time to increase overall funding for AHC in order to absorb the increased per unit levels.

The Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act provides implementing authority for the $100 million included in the budget to provide for the conversion of distressed hotels into permanent housing for homeless individuals.  This bill had initially been proposed as a New York City initiative but after input from Upstate and Rural interests, the final bill creates a statewide program that will allow the state to acquired vacant hotels and other commercial buildings on behalf of not for profits that will in turn provide high quality, permanent housing.

A bill sponsored by Senate Housing Chair Kavanagh and Assembly Chair Cymbrowitz will required state agencies to undertake efforts to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing.  Similar to federal efforts in this regard, the law will require state agencies that fund affordable housing to take steps to identify barriers to fair housing and to take proactive steps to ameliorate those barriers.  Several other fair housing bills also passed including a bill to require additional training for real estate practitioners related to fair housing and housing bias.

The entire affordable housing advocacy community supported a bill to make the Five Year Housing Capital Plan a permanent part of New York State’s approach to affordable housing.  The Capital Plan will require that Governor’s routinely offer multi-year commitments to programs and funding allowing developers and other housing professional to plan complex development plans over a period of time while being secure that the funding they need will be in place when the time comes to submit their proposals.  The first Five Year Capital Plan provided regular infusions of funding in programs like Main Street and the Manufactured Home Replacement Program.  NYS Rural Advocates will be calling for the Affordable Housing Corporation Program to be included in the next Five Year Plan.

Among the affordable housing bills to pass at end of session was a bill that would allow NPCs and RPCs to include “landlord training” as an eligible activity under their HCR contracts.  We note that a handful of organizations participate in this activity all ready and Rural Advocates is hoping to see additional local landlord training take place under this provision.

For all of the affordable housing successes in the 2021 session, the Legislature left plenty on the table for Rural Advocates to work on in 2022.  As mentioned above, an increased appropriation for AHC will once again be at the top of our list.  We also expect to press for the permanent creation of the Mobile and Manufactured Home Replacement Program and for a new Senior Rental Housing Capital and Services program.

New York State FY 2022 – Housing Budget Analysis

Homeowner Protection Program granted three years of funding.  The Affordable Housing Corporation receives $25 million increase.

In the late night hours of April 6, The New York State Legislature adopted the State’s FY 2022 budget – only five days late.

While the outline of the housing portion of the budget looks very much as proposed by Governor Cuomo, there are some very significant additions. 

In the Capital Projects bill, the Affordable Housing Corporation was allocated a total of $51 million.  The $25 million addition to AHC is set aside to fund a vacant property program that will involve the renovation of vacant and blighted homes for first-time homebuyers. The agreement between the Legislature and the Governor also included the Governor’s proposal to commit $100 million to the conversion of vacant hotels and other commercial in NYC to use as affordable housing.  Legislative leaders won a $325 million fund to provide capital improvements for the State’s public housing authorities.  Of the total amount $200 million will be allocated to the New York City Housing Authority with the remaining $125 million to be invested statewide.  The budget agreement also retains the proposed $186 million commitment to continue work on Governor Cuomo’s pledge to create 6000 new units of supportive housing.

The state funded local programs used by RPCs remained flat funded with RESTORE provided with $1.4 million, Access to Home at $1 million and the New York State Main Street program receiving $4.2 million.

Again this year, the Education, Labor, Housing and Family Assistance bill contained language allocating excess reserves of the Mortgage Insurance Fund (MIF) to several housing programs.  The Rural Preservation Program is allocated a total of $5,360,000 as proposed by the Governor with language added to carve out $150,000 for the Rural Housing Coalition.  NPC is funded at $12,830,000 with the same carve out for the NP Coalition.  The MIF also includes $45,181,000 to support several of the supportive services programs administered by OTDA and $65,568,000 for New York City Adult Shelters. 

The final budget agreement also includes an allocation of $600 million in federal COVID relief funds for a Homeownership Relief and Protection Program with up to $60 million of that amount set aside to support the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) for three years.  The balance of the funds in this program is to be administered by state and federally designated community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to assist distressed homeowners by providing mortgage payment assistance and similar support.  The Aid to Localities bill also provides a million dollars to cover services and expenses to over twenty not for profit, affordable housing organizations in the New York City area.

NYS Rural Advocate’s 2021 Housing Budget Testimony


Presented to a Joint hearing of

New York State Senate Finance Committee


New York State Assembly Ways and Means Committee, February 2, 2021

Presented by

Blair W. Sebastian, for New York State Rural Advocates

Michael Borges, for Rural Housing Coalition of New York

Good afternoon Senator Krueger, Assemblywoman Weinstein, Senator Kavanagh, Senator Helming, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, and distinguished members of the panel.  On behalf of the New York State Rural Advocates and the Rural Housing Coalition of New York, thank you for this opportunity share our thoughts and observations about the impact of the proposed 2022 executive housing budget on small towns and rural places around our State.

Meeting the affordable housing needs of rural communities presents a number of unique challenges.  These are small scale communities made up of widely scattered populations with limited access to traditional sources credit and few philanthropic resources.  While housing costs are often lower than comparable metropolitan regions, New York’s rural counties exhibit median incomes that are less than 80% of the median incomes in the more urbanized counties. The widespread occurrence of substandard housing in rural communities can be attributed to advanced age of the rural housing stock and to the limited resources available to provide ongoing capital investment.

It is important to recognize that rural communities are dominated by homeownership tenure and there is surprising evidence that many homeowners – particularly those on fixed incomes – are seriously cost burdened at rates similar to renters statewide.   Rural renters, although fewer in number than in urban places, also face serious challenges accessing safe, decent affordable housing opportunities.

By way of highlights, our top priority remains the Rural Preservation Program.  As we discuss below, Rural Preservation Companies are governed by boards of directors who are members of the communities served by the RPCs.  This means that the Company’s programs and activities are tailored to the specific needs and priorities of the community that they serve.  Many of the other programs we discuss below constitute the toolboxes from which RPCs draw the tools with which they attack local affordable housing problems.

As owner occupied housing stock is dominate in rural areas, AHC, the Affordable Housing Corporation provides a critical resources for the rehabilitation of existing one to four family homes and it supports the new construction and acquisition of existing properties that serve the homeownership community.  We are concerned that AHC funding has not kept pace with the State’s other major housing programs and we urge you to increase funding for this critical rural resource.

While rural housing tenure is dominated by homeowners, low income renters also face huge challenges.  Even though rents in rural places often seem modest compared to high cost markets, the condition of much of the rural rental housing stock is dismal.  We appreciate the work of private affordable housing developers in upstate New York but we note that scale of most rental development these days overwhelms our small communities.  Our not for profits have a wonderful track record of developing appropriately scaled rental housing but we currently lack the resources to accomplish that work.  We need a source of funding for small rental projects.

Finally, I want to point out that the executive did not include funding for the Rural Housing Coalition as part of the RPP budget.  The training and technical assistance component of RHC is a critical element of the RPPs success.  I would like to introduce Mike Borges, the new executive director of the Rural Housing Coalition to briefly talk about new initiatives he is working on.

Rural Preservation Companies (RPCs) are a key element of New York’s strategy to address the challenges faced by the State’s smaller communities.  RPCs are not for profit companies controlled by volunteer boards of directors with the majority of members required to live or work in the service area.  In order to successfully meet the affordable housing needs of the low income residents of New York’s small towns and rural communities, NYS Rural Advocates calls for the full funding of the Rural Preservation Program (RPP).

The Executive proposes to fund the Rural Preservation Program (RPP) with $5,360,000 from excess reserves of the Mortgage Insurance Fund in 2020.  The Executive does not include funding for the important technical assistance and training functions of the Rural Housing Coalition.

In order to fully fund currently active RPCs and restore preservation services to three of six unserved or underserved counties and to support the work of the New York State Rural Housing Coalition, Rural Advocates calls on the Legislature to provide the additional funding to provide RPP with a total appropriation of $6.2 million dollars.  NYS Rural Advocates recommends that language be added to the budget to provide $200,000 for the New York State Rural Housing Coalition from the RPP appropriation.

Affordable Housing Corporation:  The Executive proposes to flat fund AHC at $26 million from the Capital Projects budget.  NYS Rural Advocates is calling for an increase in AHC funding to $40 million this year.  This increase is necessary to offset the impacts of the anticipated increase in per unit funding limits and to provide a modest increase in program funding to satisfy a small portion of the overwhelming demand for this very effective program.

Homeownership is the dominate form of tenure in Rural New York.  With well over a half a million owner occupied housing units, the homeownership rate in rural service areas exceeds 70% compared to a statewide homeownership rate of just 54%,  (note that New York’s homeownership rate places us dead last among the 50 States!).  AHC provides funding that supports homeowners including down payment and closing cost assistance, new construction and rehabilitation of owner occupied one to four family homes and mobile home replacement programs.

Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP): Promoting and protecting homeownership is a priority for NYS Rural Advocates and therefore we are deeply concerned that mortgage delinquency rates have reached the highest levels ever due the pandemic’s impact on our State’s economy.  We note that delinquencies disproportionally impact the minority households that are already far behind in rates of homeownership.  The foreclosure crisis has certainly not ended but the funds supporting the HOPP program will be exhausted in July of this year.  We urge the Legislature to provide $20 million for a full service homeownership counseling program that includes foreclosure counseling, mitigation assistance and legal services.

Small Rental Projects:  Rental housing developers in New York have access to a broad menu of capital funding sources however, our network of community based not for profits have found that none of the State’s standing capital programs are particularly suitable for the small scale rental projects that are most appropriate in rural communities.

In recent years HCR has offered one time programs that effectively served the need for small projects. Most recently the Small Rental Development Initiative (SRDI) was organized by the HCR Office of Community Renewal (OCR).  In 2017 OCR used $22 million in recaptured federal HOME funds to underwrite 21 small projects ranging from 3 to 24 units and averaging about 9 units per award.  The awards resulted in a mix of rehabilitation and new construction projects located in 18 different counties.  The 2017 SRDI was a one-time effort with recaptured federal funds.   The 2017 round was seriously oversubscribed and the number of potential small projects under consideration by project sponsors continues to grow. 

In 2013 a similar scaled and equally successful program was funded as a set aside within the New York State Housing Trust Fund.  Based on that experience we have proposed that the HTF appropriation of $44.2 million be increased by $10 million to support a SRDI like program at OCR.  We recognize that there may be other sources of funds to underwrite a small project initiative including the transfer of under-utilized funds from the Small Building Participation Loan Program or the Urban and Rural Community Fund.  However, we believe it would be beneficial if a small project program were to become a permanent part of HCR’s regular offerings.

ACCESS to Home and HOPE/RESTORE: Access to Home supports the modification of individual housing units to meet the needs of households with a disabled member. HOPE/RESTORE provides funding for the rapid response to emergency home repair needs of elderly homeowners. There is unlimited need for both programs and there is substantial not for profit capacity to deliver these programs.

The 2022 Executive budget funds Access to Home at $1 million from the Capital Projects Fund. New York State Rural Advocates recommends a $2 million addition to Access to Home for a total of $3 million in program funding. HOPE/RESTORE is proposed at $1.4 million from Capital Project Fund.  Rural Advocates recommends a $1million addition for a current program appropriation of $2.4 million. 

Homeless Housing and Assistance Program: HHAP supports a range of homeless housing developments by providing capital funds for emergency, transitional and permanent housing for homeless households. HHAP has a history of flexibility with respect to scale and design that allows the program to be a highly effective tool in a wide range of situations including in the smallest rural communities.

The 2022 executive budget proposed to fund HHAP at $128 million with a $5 million set aside for HIV/AIDs housing from the capital projects fund.    We recognize that success of any homeless housing project depends on the quality of service that accompanies the housing.  Rural Advocates support the allocation sufficient funding to fully underwrite the support services programs associated with HHAP.

Rural Rental Assistance: Rural Advocates support the Rural Rental Assistance Program (RRAP) to provide “Section 8 like” rent subsidies to some 5000 very low-income disabled, senior and female headed households living in properties with Section 515 Rural Rental Housing loans.  RRAP has successfully leveraged federal Section 521 rental assistance in amounts similar to those provided by New York State.  The Executive proposes to fund RRAP at $20,630,000.  Rural Advocates support this appropriation.

 Many residents of Rural Rental Housing have suffered loss of income due to the COVID Pandemic. We encourage NYS HCR and the state legislature allocate federal COVID rental assistance funds to augment both state and federal Rural Rental Assistance as necessary to meet the increased need.

Manufactured and Mobile Homes:  There are nearly 200,000 mobile homes in New York State.  Many older mobile homes in rural areas are found to be seriously deteriorated or dilapidated.  Mobile Homes located on owned lands benefit from the Mobile and Manufactured Home Replacement Program (MMHRP). For the past several years MMHRP has been funded from the first Five Year Capital Plan.  Those funds are now exhausted and no new funding is proposed in the executive budget.  Advocates recommend the addition of $3 million in current appropriations to support this important program

The 2022 Executive Budget provides $5 million to support the Manufactured Home Advantage Program which provides loans for infrastructure and other park improvements; for the acquisition of parks by nonprofits and to support resident ownership of communities through a co-op model.  New York State Rural Advocates supports this appropriation.

NY Main Street Program (NYMS): New York’s modest Main Street program has proven to be an effective tool for revitalizing both commercial and residential elements of our downtown areas. Rural Advocates believes that it is time to expand the program and include technical assistance and capacity building in addition to program funding.  The Executive proposes to fund NYMS with $4.2 million from the Capital Projects Fund.  We note that over the past several years the base appropriation for NYMS has been enhanced with funds from the JP Morgan Chase settlement resulting in annual funding of over $6 million.  The JPMC funds are now exhausted leaving the Main Street Program with an effective funding reduction of two million dollars for the 2022 program year.

Rural Advocates recommend an additional appropriation of $2.3 million resulting in a total of $6.5 million in current appropriations to support the NYMS program.

Governor Cuomo releases 2022 Executive Budget

Governor Cuomo released his 2022 Executive budget proposal yesterday (January 19, 2021).  Due to the impact of COVID 19, this is a rather complicated budget with built in contingencies.  The budget as presented is based on an assumption that the Federal Government will provide New York State with $6 billion in COVID relief to be budgeted over two years.  This is the amount the Governor sees as the minimum amount that would come to New York under the Biden administration.  The budget contains a contingency that if the federal government provides New York with the $15 billion that the Governor believes we are due, funds cut from large accounts like education, medicaid and other large programs would be restored.  On the other hand, if the State receives less that $6 billion in Relief funding, further cuts will have to be made. For the most part, housing programs seem to have been protected from the initial cuts (see the attached table). 

The Rural and Neighborhood Preservation programs are funded at last year’s level with funding from the Mortgage Insurance Fund (MIF).  Rural Preservation is scheduled to receive $5.36 million and Neighborhood Preservation is allocated $12.83 million

Rural Rental Assistance is funded at $21.63 million. Advocates expect to see additional funds for rural renters from the recently announced federal rental assistance program.

The LPA programs are funded at last year’s level with Access to Home funded at $1 million and RESTORE at $1.4 million.  Main Street is scheduled to receive its customary $4.2 million,  Keep in mind that in recent years these funding levels have been enhanced with funds from the JP Morgan Chase settlement.  The JPMC funds are now exhausted so it should be expected that the amount funds awarded under these programs will be slightly reduced going forward.   There is no funding in this budget for the Mobile and Manufactured Home Replacement Program. The Manufactured Home Advantage Program will receive $5 million.

The major capital programs are generally flat funded with the Housing Trust Fund receiving $44.2 million in bonded funding.  Homes for Working Families will receive $14 million from the same source.    A major disappointment for Rural Advocates is that the Affordable Housing Corporation remains flat funded at $26 million.  AHC is an area where Rural Advocates expects to press for additional funds from legislature.

The Governor continues his commitment to Homeless and Supportive housing with HHAP receiving $128 million in capital funds again this year.  The HHAP supportive services programs are scheduled to receive $45 million from the MIF and $65 million in MIF funding will be directed to NYC homeless shelters. The Cuomo budget promises to continue funding of a multiyear capital plan with a commitment of $186 million in new bonded capital to continue funding for the development of 20,000 units of supportive housing . There is an additional $64 million for supportive housing in the OTDA budget.

There is no funding for HOPP or other foreclosure programs in this budget.  HOPP currently has funding available to carry the program into July.  Rural Advocates will be following the lead of HOPP providers in advocating for additional funds to continue the program.

That’s what we know so far.  Stay tuned for more information as it comes available and please plan on joining our virtual advocacy event on February 23rd.  We will have more information on that event soon.

To see the budget table click below

NYS State Legislature passes COVID-19 Housing Legislation

The New York State Legislature returned to Albany last week for the first time since early April to pass a legislation addressing the COVID 19 pandemic.

The action at the Capitol includes the passage of the emergency rent relief act of 2020. The legislation creates an interim rent assistance program that will provide vouchers to building owners on behalf of eligible low income, rent burdened households and will cover the gap between 30% of the household’s income and contract rent up to 125% of FMR. To be administered by the Division of Housing and Community Renewal the program will cover a period from April 1 through July 31, 2020 and is funded with $100 million in federal funds provided to the State through the CARES Act. The commissioner of DHCR is authorized to delegate the administration of portions of the program to other state agencies, counties, cities or towns, PHAs and non-profit organizations.

In other housing related action, the Legislature amended state banking law to require New York regulated financial institutions to grant up to 90 days of forbearance to residential mortgage holders who can demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The borrower can choose either to extend their loan for the length of the forbearance or defer the arrears as a lump sum payment due at the maturity of the mortgage.

Also passed by both houses of the Legislature and sent to the Governor is the Tenant Safe Harbor Act that allows courts to issue money judgments but prohibits the eviction of residential tenants suffering hardship during the COVID-19 period for the non-payment of rent.

Governor Cuomo is expected to sign these and other COVID-19 related legislation into law.

Governor Cuomo releases 2021 executive budget proposal

January 22, 2020

Governor Andrew Cuomo presented his annual budget address yesterday afternoon in Albany.  The actual budget bills were not released until later in the evening.  Advocates have been concerned about news that New York State is facing a 2021 budget deficit in excess of $6 billion making funding cuts a possibility and restoration of cuts much more difficult.  But, for RPCs and NPCs the news was very good.  Governor Cuomo has proposed to fund RPCs at $5,360,000 or at last year’s final level from excess reserves of the Mortgage Insurance Fund (MIF).  This is a very big win for Rural and Neighborhood Preservation companies in that it establishes a new base line of funding for the program.  NPC is funded at $12,830,000 – also last year’s final number.  It is not yet clear how this will translate to RPC contract amounts for the 2020/2021 contract cycle as there are still some unanswered questions but organizations can expect funding at a level similar to those of the past several years.  This show of support from the Governor is a testament to the great work being done by RPCs.  Congratulations to you all!

Rural Advocates are disappointed by flat funding of the Affordable Housing Corporation at $26 million. The proposed level of funding represents a $1 million or a 4% increase in total over the past 35 years.  There is a proposal under active consideration and supported by Rural Advocates to increase AHC’s per unit limits.  Given demand for the program and the impact of new per unit limits, AHC desperately needs a funding increase.  Rural Advocates has joined with Habitat for Humanity and others to call for AHC funding to increase from the current $26 million to $44 million which would put the program on par with the Housing Trust Fund.

Funding for the continuation of our foreclosure mitigation efforts does not appear this budget proposal.  Advocates are calling for $20 million to continue a HOPP-like foreclosure program . Rural Advocates support an expanded, full service housing counseling program with pre and post purchase counseling in addition to the foreclosure work. 

The Rural Rental Assistance Program is funded at $21 million from the Mortgage Insurance Fund.  For several years, RRAP was under a great deal of pressure but the program now seems to be on a stable funding trajectory.

The capital programs budget is very similar to last year.  RESTORE is proposed at $1.4 million. Rural Advocates support a funding increase for RESTORE to bring the program to $2.4 million.   Access to Home is at $1 million – flat funding for a program that is much needed in rural communities and for which there is plenty of demand. 

The Housing Trust Fund is funded at $44.2 million. Rural Advocates supports a modest increase in HTF in order to fund a small project set aside to support a program modeled after the Office of Community Renewal’s Small Rental Project Development Initiative (SRDI). 

New York State’s very successful Main Street program is also flat funded at $4.2 million.  

Big news alluded to in the Governor’s address, HHAP funding will be increased from the current $64 million to $128 million. This increase reflects the success that the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance (OTDA) has had in funding projects that provide high quality housing for homeless individuals and families in a very wide range of settings. HHAP has been a great source of funding for small projects serving special populations in rural communities.    The Homeless services programs will also receive funding from the MIF at $42.641 million.

Join the New York State Rural Advocates In Cooperstown

NYS Rural Advocates invite you to join us for a day long discussion of state and federal housing policy at our annual Policy Retreat at the beautiful Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown.  Our meeting will convene at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, October 30.  The discussion will be used by Rural Advocates Board of Directors as we develop our 2020 Legislative Agenda.

Wednesday meeting will include coffee and pastries in the morning and wonderful Otesaga luncheon buffet.  If you can join us for an overnight, you will be treated to a late afternoon reception in one of the hotels lovely suites followed by an elegant sit down dinner in the Otesaga’s main dining room.  Thursday morning, after breakfast, the Board will hold its annual re-organizational meeting and adopt a legislative agenda.  Fee for the event is $110.  Overnight stay at the Otesaga is $243 which includes a great room and three delicious meals.  For meeting registration click here. For Room reservations, please contact the hotel directly (607) 547-9931 between 8 and 5 Monday through Friday and mention NYS Rural Advocates.

NYS Rural Advocates to Convene in Albany

New York State Rural Advocates will hold their annual Legislative Conference February 26 and 27 in Albany.  The Legislative Conference offers Advocates’ members and supporters an opportunity join with colleagues to discuss current legislative and policy issues.  It is also the time to meet with elected officials to discuss how the state budget and legislative initiatives will impact their communities.

The event kicks off with a Rural Advocates’ Board dinner on the evening of February 26 at the Holiday Inn express in downtown Albany.  On Wednesday morning the 27th the event moves to the State Capitol complex with a breakfast meeting in the Albany room.  The chair persons of the Assembly and Senate Housing Committees have been invited to join us as Advocates prepare to spend the day visiting with elected officials and legislative staff.

Additional information and registration materials are available here  2019 Legislative Meeting Registration

NYS Rural Advocates’ road to Albany goes through Cooperstown!

New York State Rural Advocates have set November 8 for their Annual Meeting and Policy Discussion at the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown.

This year’s meeting is timed to allow for a discussion of critically important November 6th state and federal elections.  The U.S. House of Representatives and the New York State Senate both may face a change in the majority party.  There is even a chance that the U.S. Senate could flip.  A change of the party in control of any or all of those bodies will result in new Legislative leadership, new committee chairs and a change in status for your elected representative.  This will be our first chance to discuss what any changes might mean.

The annual fall meeting is where the Rural Advocates begins building our state legislative agenda for the 2019 session of the New York State Legislature.  In order to better understand the needs of rural New York, Advocates solicits input from members, colleagues and peers and we use that information to craft our initial legislative agenda.

Please join us in Cooperstown for this important gathering.  Find the registration and hotel details here NYSRA annual meeting notice 2018