Hudson Valley Housing Report Shows New Trend

Sep 18, 2013

Credit WAMC/Allison Dunne

A Hudson Valley nonprofit organization has released a report on housing in the region. The findings point to a major change when it comes to home ownership. The report points to a revision of the American Dream.

The report, entitled “Housing in the Hudson Valley: American Dream Revised,” shows that renting is on the rise as barriers to home ownership persist. The report is from the Center for Housing Solutions at Newburgh-based Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress. Center for Housing Solutions Executive Director Joe Czajka says he had the following realization when putting together the report.

Among the center’s findings is that applications for conventional mortgages dropped by more than 80 percent from 2005 to 2011 for Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, and Ulster Counties. Would-be homeowners submitted more than 30,000 applications in 2005, and slightly fewer than 6,000 in 2011. Czajka says many Hudson Valley residents have halted pursuit of the American Dream of homeownership or at least put it on hold.

He says it is now clear that Hudson Valley leaders need to ensure that renting does not become as out of reach as home ownership. He says some of the reasons for the shift from home ownership to renting are high real estate taxes, low wage jobs, and a renewed stringency in bank requirements for mortgages. For the general purposes of the report, "affordable" means a household is spending no more than 30 percent of its gross income toward housing.

The report highlights the growing problem of student debt becoming another barrier to home ownership for many in the so-called millennial generation – individuals between the ages of 18 and 34. Czajka says this generation is more apt to remain in the rental market to retain mobility – the ability to continually react to a changing economy and go where the jobs are.

Westchester County ranked No. 1 in the nation for the highest median real estate taxes paid in 2010. Rockland was fourth, Putnam 11th; Orange, 22nd; Dutchess 32nd, Ulster 52nd, and Sullivan 86th.  Czajka says with Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam unaffordable for many, two other counties contain more affordable areas.

President and CEO of Pattern for Progress Jonathan Drapkin says affordability lies in Sullivan and Ulster Counties, though there is a give and take.

The housing report will be discussed September 24 during a luncheon featuring Democratic Assemblyman Keith Wright, chair of the Assembly Committee on Housing, and Democratic state Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk.