Kingston, New York Is The First Upstate City To Enact Rent Control
Kingston became the first city in New York’s upstate region to enact rent control when its Common Council voted 7-1 to declare a housing emergency, the Daily Freeman reports. In 2019, New York passed the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, which allowed any city to pass rent control by declaring a housing emergency, provided they had a vacancy rate below 5%. (A study earlier this year found Kingston’s vacancy rate to be 1.57%.) Previously, the 1974 Emergency Tenant Protection Act only granted New York City and its neighboring suburbs the ability to enact rent control. The rent protections only extend to buildings with six or more units built prior to 1974, which in Kingston covers about 1200 units, according to the Daily Freeman. The city will now have to create a rent guidelines board to determine rent increases.
Kingston’s home prices increased by 30% in the first year of the pandemic, according to Curbed, largely due to an influx of downstate residents escaping New York City. Kingston, along with Newburgh, Poughkeepsie and Hudson, passed Good Cause eviction protections earlier this year, just as the state’s eviction moratorium was expiring.
The passage of the rent control in Kingston could lead other cities upstate or in Western New York to do the same, advocates predict. “I don’t think that ETPA is seriously moving around here at the moment, but we hope to change that in places like Newburgh and Poughkeepsie that would really benefit,” Jonathan Bix, director of the Hudson Valley-based group For The Many, told Curbed.
L.A. City Council Bans Encampments Near Schools, Libraries, Daycare
L.A.’s city council voted 11-3 this week to criminalize homeless encampments near schools, daycare center, libraries, public parks and daycare centers, LA Mag reports. The vote amends an existence ordinance passed last year, Section 41.18 of the city code, which already bans sitting, lying, sleeping or storing personal property within 10 feet of a highway, a building entrance or exit, fire hydrants and fire departments, and up to 1,000 feet from homeless shelters.
The new ban can extend up to 500 feet and is up to the discretion of the property owner (which in many such cases would be the city of L.A.). Section 41.18 now bans encampments across a large swath of Los Angeles. It’s hard to say precisely how much of the city it covers, but LA Tenants Union estimates that it is now illegal to be unsheltered in 20% of LA.
LA City Council is about to vote to make it illegal to be homeless in 20% of the city. They’ve cleared the chambers of the mass of dissenters and this is how they plan to pass the law: pic.twitter.com/XyFmSbpOEI— LA Tenants Union (@LATenantsUnion) August 2, 2022
HUD To Award 2.8 Billion In Competitive Grants For 2022
HUD announced this week that it will provide $2.8 billion in competitive grants to states to address homelessness in fiscal year 2022. It’s an increase from the $2.6 billion it awarded in fiscal year 2021. It’s also separate from $365 million in competitive grant funds announced last month to address unsheltered homelessness.
The funding is distributed through Continuums of Care, local entities at the city, state or regional level that coordinate services for people experiencing homelessness. Under the Biden administration, HUD’s criteria for awarding grants include projects with a Housing First approach, projects “addressing racial disparities in homelessness” and projects that “reduce unsheltered homelessness and reduce the criminalization of homelessness.”
In practice, however, regions that accept HUD funding can continue to criminalize homelessness, even as they expand shelters and provide other services. California, for instance, received the largest share of HUD grants in 2021, at $509 million – yet cities across the state have ramped up anti-homeless ordinances in the past two years.
This article is part of Backyard, a newsletter exploring scalable solutions to make housing fairer, more affordable and more environmentally sustainable. Subscribe to our weekly Backyard newsletter.
Roshan Abraham is Next City's housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities fellow. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.