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
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.