Helping with Rent & Utilities
UIDN continues to help dozens of families each month with money for rent and utilities. We use our own donated funds or connect families with monies available from Catholic Charities and United Way via Family of Woodstock. There are, of course, many more immigrant families who are not able to stay current and will have massive rental debts when the moratorium ends — probably after December 31.
Sometimes we are able to negotiate better terms with smaller landlords who tend to be more committed to keeping rents affordable as long as they can meet their own mortgage and tax liabilities. The larger commercial rental companies are more likely to evict tenants who cannot pay replacing them with those who can afford more. Recent demand for housing from newcomers has stimulated gentrification and displacement of low income renters including immigrants.
These housing challenges may also be a threat to public health in a second wave of coronavirus. When affordable rentals are gone, families made homeless by eviction either live in the streets or double up in apartments with other family members or with friends. Either way, exposure to the virus is increased.
Support the Ulster County Coalition for Housing Justice
As noted above, UIDN has assisted many immigrant friends with rent and utilities payments, but the double crisis of ongoing unemployment and no direct federal help threatens to exhaust available assistance. Whenever the rent and mortgage moratoriums end, back bills will be due and will overwhelm many. Housing experts predict a massive wave of eviction orders from housing courts and foreclosure orders from banks when landlords cannot meet their mortgage payments. Few public officials or candidates have committed to safeguarding millions from homelessness.
Of course the housing crisis has deeper roots, and UIDN has joined with others to identify solutions through the Ulster County Coalition for Housing Justice. In the long run, we need public policies that regulate the housing market ensuring an adequate and stable supply of affordable housing for low income and moderate individuals and families. In Ulster County, 55% of low-income renters pay more than the federal standard for affordability, i.e., more than 30% of household income. One in four low-income renters pay more than 50% of their income. Homeless families have been priced out of the market entirely.
In our unregulated housing market, a rising demand for housing from new residents and land speculators is pushing existing housing prices out of reach of many, with little profit incentive to create housing that will remain affordable as economies fluctuate.
The Coalition uses letter writing campaigns to the local press and elected officials along with direct action to press for immediate rehousing of homeless individuals, rapid renovation of empty buildings, and speedy development of new public housing that will be remain permanently affordable. They invite supporters to sign their petition here.
To learn more and/or get involved, attend the Coalition’s Zoom event, The Future of Housing in Ulster County, October 20, 7-7:45 p.m. A link will be posted on UIDN’s website soon.