Homeownership is the cornerstone of the American Dream, providing the opportunity for significant wealth accumulation. Homeownership is at the heart of the racial wealth gap, and many families are suffering as rent prices rise with no path to home ownership. For many of our families, every dollar coming in, is another dollar going out. Home ownership is a long-term solution to stabilize household earnings. Research indicates high rates of home ownership strengthen and stabilize neighborhoods and encourage higher levels of civic engagement, lower rates of crime, and an overall better quality of life.
Currently, two thirds of Poughkeepsie residents rent, with no clear path to homeownership. The average City household income is $39,900 which is only 53% of the average for Dutchess County. In the City of Poughkeepsie, the cost of living has gone up and housing affordability has gone down.
How did we get here? Decades old policies have largely segregated the City into Northside renters and Southside homeowners. Much of Dutchess County’s affordable housing has been placed on the City’s Northside. Concentrating high-density, low-income housing on the City’s Northside has discouraged job creating investments in our Northside neighborhoods.
As the City’s economy grows, we need to require affordable housing as part of new development with the goal of creating healthier mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhoods. I am proposing a mandatory 20% allocation of affordable housing in all new housing constructed in the City of Poughkeepsie.
We also need to increase our first-time home buyer education and support so that more families can become knowledgeable about credit scores, mortgage options (including how to avoid predatory lending), property taxes, insurance, and utility costs. With the help of my administration, our families will become financially savvy, build savings and improve their credit to obtain a low-interest mortgage.
My program will enhance and amplify the work already being done by non-profit organizations that have well established, successful Purchase or Rent-to-Own programs with high rates of homeowner retention. When the City of Poughkeepsie acquires title to a property, we will transfer clear title to one of our partner organizations for a modest fee, enabling our partners to renovate the property and provide a Poughkeepsie family who has undergone homeownership counseling with the opportunity to own.
With 500 blighted properties, there’s plenty of inventory to work with. My Administration will prioritize growing the number of families moving from renting to owning. When families begin this move from rental housing to home ownership, a larger portion of our existing affordable housing stock will become available. This will help keep rent prices down and provide more families with housing stability.
Home ownership is one tool in forging a reliable path to the middle class. Families transitioning to home ownership will ultimately pay less money on a mortgage than they formerly paid for rent. Ensuring a high quality public education and better housing options will help make Poughkeepsie a competitive market for both new and existing families.