One of the affordable housing issues the Rockland City Council is grappling with is providing affordable safe, decent and code compliant rental units for the local workforce and for lower and fixed income individuals and families.

To address this issue, the council’s policy is to promote and allow for attach and detached accessory dwellings, or ADUs, with the expectation that after spending fifty thousand to nearly a hundred thousand dollars or more on renovations or new construction, including loan interest payments and the extension or provision of expensive sewer, water and electrical utilities for the site, the owners will rent out the units at the affordable rates of $750.00 to $950.00 a month instead of $750.00 to $950.00 or more a week for short-term and seasonal rentals. I don’t know how successful this policy has been.

But, we do know the city’s Multi-Family Housing Rehabilitation Loan and Grant Program, which focused on the rehabilitation of existing apartment buildings, was successful as it did supply safe, decent and code compliant rental units at affordable fair market rents. However, in Fiscal Year 17 (2016-2017), the City Council, along with the acquiescent of City Hall staff members, diverted $250,000 in program loan repayment funds to other purposes for which the money was not intended to be used for. Instead, it was supposed to be used to recapitalize the Multi-Family Housing Rehabilitation Program when the CDBG grant funding ran out in order to provide for the rehabilitation of additional affordable apartment units. As a result, rental units that could have been made safe, code compliant and affordable for workforce, family and lower income persons went undone.

The diversion of $250,000 in housing funds set back the city’s efforts to provide safe and decent affordable rental units; especially, since we don’t know how successful the council’s ADU policy has been in creating affordable rental units, but we do know the diverted funds would have created more affordable units.

Rodney Lynch