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New development helps reduce Upstate New York’s housing shortage: But much more is needed

  • / Updated:
  • Edwin Viera 

New apartments on the market in Pulaski are the latest development aimed at reducing New York’s housing shortage.

Selkirk Landing consists of 44 affordable homes for families and seniors, along with 20 homes with supportive services to house adults who have been homeless.

A Rural Housing Coalition of New York report found most rural towns have vacancy rates twice their urban counterparts.

Marion Naramore, executive director of the Oswego Housing Development Council, described a lukewarm initial response to Selkirk Landing in 2019.

“When people hear that anything new is coming into their community — and it’s not business, it’s apartments — sometimes they get a little upset,” Naramore observed. “And we wanted to present it as best as we could that it would be for the better of the community.”

Another challenge was beginning work just as the COVID-19 pandemic began. But Naramore noted getting people together and bringing materials to the site were obstacles quickly overcome.

An Associated General Contractors of America survey found 74% of contractors saw New York projects halted or postponed by the pandemic.

One issue plaguing rural New York is the aging housing stock. The Rural Housing Coalition of New York said about one-third of homes were built prior to 1940. Naramore pointed out other issues factored into the need for constructing these apartments.

“After looking at everything in the surrounding area of Oswego County and looking at incomes, and looking up what has been built around the area, there hasn’t really been much housing going up,” Naramore acknowledged.

Oswego County’s Opportunities Inc. noted housing is a critical need in the area, particularly affordable housing. The agency’s most recent report found around 35% of Oswego County residents live in households with incomes below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.

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