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Legislature Endorses Tompkins County Housing Strategy

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Legislature Endorses Tompkins County Housing Strategy

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Tompkins County Legislature, by unanimous vote (Legislators Martha Robertson, Mike Sigler, Peter 
Stein, Glenn Morey were excused), endorsed the Tompkins County Housing Strategy, a wide-ranging plan to address the County’s housing needs through 2025. Prepared by the County’s Department of Planning and Sustainability, the Strategy draws upon information from past studies on the critical issue of housing, the 2016 Housing Needs Assessment and 2016 Housing Summit, as well as additional input and feedback received from community partners, the County Planning Advisory Board, legislators, and the public.

Before the vote, Planning, Development, and Environmental Quality Vice Chair Dooley Kiefer read a statement from Committee Chair Martha Robertson, who has taken a lead role in helping to move forward the housing issue, but could not be at tonight’s meeting. Robertson said, “In endorsing the 2017 Housing Strategy, the Legislature is making a very important statement of our values and priorities as a community when it comes to one of our most basic human needs. This Strategy charts an ambitious yet pragmatic path forward that balances the roles of the private and public sectors, of the different levels of government, of nonprofits, philanthropists, neighborhoods, and individuals. Many people have contributed to this document and even more of us, working together, will be needed to accomplish the many crucial goals that the County Legislature will hopefully be adopting.”

The Strategy provides targets for housing units and their locations, approaches to achieve desired housing outcomes, and monitoring efforts that will be needed to track progress in meeting the county’s housing needs. Among the targets cited: Construction of 580 workforce housing units per year (including 200 new rental units per year and 380 new ownership units per year), for a total of 5,800 new units through 2025, many located in the county’s nodal Development Focus Areas. The report also calls for construction of market-rate and subsidized Senior Housing units, and at least one Medicaid Assisted Living program facility; and for construction of supportive housing for those with special needs. As well as new construction, to meet those targets the Strategy proposes a focus on preserving and rehabilitating existing housing stock and building upon existing Fair Housing efforts to address unlawful housing discrimination. It also recommends programs to enhance community collaboration to address housing issues—including a Housing Solutions Collaborative to enhance information-sharing and a “Virtual Housing Office”—a web-based inventory of existing housing resources and programs to connect anyone seeking housing-related information within Tompkins County with housing resources.

A number of Legislators praised the plan and recognized the Department of Planning and Sustainability, including Commissioner Ed Marx, Deputy Commissioner Katie Borgella, and Associate Planner Megan McDonald, for their excellent work in preparing the Housing Strategy—among them, Legislature Chair Michael Lane who said, “I applaud the Planning Department for the work that has been done to, and we need to continue.”

Review the full Tompkins County Housing Strategy document at