FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Eli Berkowitz, Hudson Valley Lead Organizer, Community Voices Heard, 845-541-1122
POUGHKEEPSIE TENANTS DEMAND A BUDGET PLAN THAT PROTECTS TENANTS AND PROVIDES RENT RELIEF
Community Voices Heard Members held a press conference on Tuesday in response to the Mayor’s budget plan that does nothing to address our housing crisis.
Community Voices Heard Executive Director Juanita Lewis speaks at a Poughkeepsie press conference on October 25 to demand the Mayor invest federal funds in rent relief. Photo credit: Liz Martínez for Community Voices Heard.
Community Voices Heard Poughkeepsie members on October 25 speak with Mayor Rolison’s Community Engagement Director, John Penney, to demand the Mayor deliver a budget that recognizes the city’s housing crisis and does more for tenants. Photo credit: Liz Martínez for Community Voices Heard.
October 25, 2022 (POUGHKEEPSIE, NY) – Today, Community Voices Heard Poughkeepsie members gathered outside City Hall to demand the Mayor use federal American Rescue Plan funds for rent relief and tenant protections.
“No one should be worried about how we're going to make rent or losing our homes. A lot of us are living paycheck to paycheck, having to decide if we're going to pay rent or Central Hudson,” said CVH Poughkeepsie Member Charlene Smart. “The Mayor needs to do something for tenants in the city of Poughkeepsie. We need the city to fund rent relief now!"
“The housing crisis has a great effect on our financial status, especially for those of us who are fixed in our income,” said CVH Poughkeepsie Member Linda Bartee. “This crisis has disturbed our peace of mind and our families–how do we meet all of our other responsibilities when housing costs are so high? We need the Mayor to take action on this crisis and put money for rental assistance in his budget now.”
“The rent increases throughout the city of Poughkeepsie are beyond astronomical! My apartment complex was sold in January 2022 and the new owners have since increased my rent by 350 more a month. I already work 60 to 70 hours a week to maintain rent a car and basic living expenses for myself and my daughter,” said CVH Poughkeepsie Member Kara Critchley. “The financial pressure that these rent increases put on myself and others is appalling! While I appreciate the developments and progression of the city, it should never ever be at the risk of pushing out longtime community members. We are part of this community and our tax dollars are what is used to fund these projects. We should not be forced out due to unaffordable rents and low wage. There is a housing emergency, and it needs addressing now!”
“One in three renters in Poughkeepsie spend more than half their income on rent. It is outrageous that the Mayor's budget plan does nothing to address this crisis," said Community Voices Heard's Executive Director Juanita O. Lewis. “We have been knocking on doors in Poughkeepsie all summer to talk with tenants, and we've heard again and again: they need rent relief and strong tenant protections now.”
“Legal Services of the Hudson Valley provides free legal counsel to low-income individuals and families in the lower Hudson Valley region on civil legal issues affecting the basic necessities of life. With the current state of the housing crisis, Legal Services has seen a significant increase in the need for legal assistance and advocacy throughout our service area. For 2022, Legal Services has supported 6,034 clients involving eviction and homelessness throughout our services area, of which 378 cases have been handled for city of Poughkeepsie residents, affecting 918 Poughkeepsie household members. Our clients not only face the loss of their homes and stability, but the lack of affordable housing makes it nearly impossible to find suitable alternatives. It perpetuates the cycles of poverty and homelessness that undermine the safety and stability of children and families in crisis. Rental assistance is an essential resource to provide housing stability for the most vulnerable populations within our communities,” said Rachel Saunders, Attorney in Charge of Legal Services of the Hudson Valley’s Poughkeepsie office.
CVH Members demanded that the City put $5 million towards a rental assistance fund to prevent evictions by covering rent arrears and providing assistance to those with increased housing costs. Members also plan to urge the City to pursue a rental housing vacancy study and opt-in to rent stabilization under the Emergency Tenant Protection Act.
The Mayor's proposed budget does nothing to address our housing crisis. Mayor Rolison plans to spend $8.83 million in federal COVID-relief funds on things like computer systems for City Hall and more police cameras and SUVs, instead of helping families who were most impacted by the pandemic. Those funds should be used as intended by the Federal government to respond to the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19.
Community Voices Heard has engaged in over 700 conversations with tenants across the city about where they want this ARPA money to go; the overwhelming answer has been rent relief and tenant protections.
The City of Poughkeepsie conducted its own Housing Needs Assessment, which found that Poughkeepsie is facing a housing affordability crisis. The Housing Needs Assessment included recommendations to improve housing opportunities that the Mayor appears to be ignoring in his budget plan.
Community Voices Heard members demand the Mayor deliver a budget that recognizes the city’s housing crisis and does more for tenants.
Community Voices Heard (CVH) is a member-led, multi-racial organization principally comprised of women of color and low-income families in New York State. CVH tackles tough issues and builds power to secure racial, social, and economic justice for all New Yorkers. Through grassroots organizing, leadership development, policy changes, and creating new models of direct democracy CVH is creating a truly equitable New York State.