Feb. 11—KINGSTON — There is a housing crisis in the area, with a 2020 Ulster County housing survey declaring that there was a vacancy rate of just 1.81%.
For comparison, the rest of the state had a 5.5% vacancy rate. The problem isn’t solely due to the availability of housing.
The county listed the average rent as $1,265 that year. Today, the average monthly cost of one-bedroom apartments in Kingston listed on Zillow is $1,895.
Greg Berardi, a licensed Realtor in Kingston and the owner of Berardi Realty, said the issue with housing is rather simple: inventory versus demand. He said that the costs are getting so high for apartment seekers and prospective house buyers because there are so few listings compared to the number of people who want them.
In the case of houses, Berardi said that despite the Federal Reserve raising interest rates to combat broader inflation in the country, people are still willing to pay for houses in the area. The real estate market is seemingly not cooling off from its pandemic high.
People from New York City, attracted by Kingston’s proximity and who make more money than many in the area, are not deterred by the costs. In the process of buying in the region, they have priced some locals out.
While he doesn’t cater solely to city-based buyers, Berardi said there simply aren’t many houses to go around. “We would sell them if we had them,” he said.
Renters face a related issue. With inflation and the housing market on the rise, the price to build anything, let alone affordable housing, is increasing to where it may not make fiscal sense for some property owners to build affordable housing.
Megan Brenn-White, founder and CEO of Upstate Curious, a real estate brokerage firm, said, “They normally can’t afford to unless they don’t make a profit [from that property].”
Her firm markets and sells houses primarily to people based in New York City. Often, it facilitates transactions between people who own a second home and people who rent in New York City and are looking to buy upstate.
Brenn-White says the most sensible choice at this point is for the government to step in and help developers who can’t build affordable housing otherwise. It’s something Gov. Kathy Hochul has made plans to do this year.
“The market is never going to fix this, it’s just not,” she said. “The government is going to have to fix it.
She added that the government already does provide a variety of funding for developers hoping to provide affordable housing, but many do not apply, a result of what she called the area’s reputation as difficult to build in.
State Supreme Court in Ulster County on Friday ruled that the city of Kingston can institute rent controls for tenants and landlords, denying challenges brought by property owners questioning the city’s declaration of a housing emergency. An appeal of the decision by those property owners is expected.
The Kingston Common Council Laws and Rules Committee will hold a public hearing over rezoning at City Hall on Monday, Feb. 13, at 6 p.m.
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