LAKE PLACID – North Elba City Council and the Village of Lake Placid Board of Directors are holding a special meeting tonight to hear presentations on solving the local housing crisis.
The town and village councils plan to hear two presentations this evening, one on an updated housing plan by the Joint Community Housing Committee of the Lake Placid-North Elba Community Development Commission – or JCHC — and the other on an act restriction program from LivingADK, a nonprofit organization based in Old Forge.
Tonight’s meeting is at 5 p.m. in the North Elba Town Hall First Floor Meeting Room. People can also attend the meeting virtually at gotomeet.me/townofnorthelba/board-meeting. People can call into the meeting by dialing 571-317-3122 and entering the passcode 350-598-109.
JCHC was formed a few years ago to assess the state of housing in the town and village with consultancy firm Camoin 315, and their efforts culminated in a 2020 housing needs assessment which found that the town and the village were faced with a “labour housing crisis”.
The study indicates that with a target of 50% of the local workforce living within the community, North Elba and Lake Placid need approximately 1,534 “workforce and affordable level” housing units – the majority, 1,013 units, for those earning less than $35,150 a year. In the study, affordable for this income bracket is defined as less than $879 per month for apartments and less than $123,000 for a house.
Emily Kilburn Politi, JCHC member and North Elba councilor, said on Tuesday the committee had combined a housing plan resulting from the 2020 study with a 2014 housing plan that is part of the city’s overall plan and the village into a coherent document, and that is what the committee plans to present this evening.
The housing committee is a “volunteer work group”, Kilburn Politi said, consisting of Committee Chairman Peter Roland, Jr., Village Council Liaison Jackie Kelly, Kilburn Politi City Council Liaison, Community Bank Mortgage Lender Alex Nenno, former Harrietstown Housing Authority Executive Director David Aldrich, Mountain Lake Academy Director of Education Jessica Kelly and former Lake Placid Mayor Jaime Rogers.
Kilburn Politi added that the committee is looking to expand its representation with new members.
Kilburn Politi said LivingADK Community Development Specialist Daniel Kiefer-Bach will present LivingADK’s new Act Restriction Program for Old Forge, which she says will be in place this summer. The program, according to Kilburn Politi, is modeled after a program in Vail, Colorado. Vail is a ski resort that some locals have compared to Lake Placid, in part because of its shortage of affordable housing.
Under the program, Kilburn Politi explained, an entity — like the city of North Elba — would offer a landlord a one-time cash payment for something like repairs or a down payment on their home. In return, the owner would give that entity the right to place a restriction on the property saying that it must be occupied by a “qualified resident”. Kilburn Politi said the community should define what a qualified resident is. For Old Forge, she said, the qualification is that the person should be a permanent resident of the area.
Kilburn Politi believed that in Vail, the deed restriction qualifier is that the property should be used for people who work a minimum of 30 hours in the local county. She said the community there has thousands of properties in its deed restriction program, adding that many of them are investment properties – some landlords have given entire apartment buildings to the program, she said. The landlord receives a one-time payment to help with the purchase or repairs of a property, Kilburn told Politi, and in return the landlord guarantees that the accommodation will be for the local workforce.
“So the restriction of the act is in perpetuity, and it’s a one-time lump sum payment,” she says.
Kilburn Politi believed the average lump sum granted to deed restriction properties in Vail was around $50,000. She said the town and village aren’t quite on that scale, but she wanted the town and village to talk about another possible tool for finding housing for residents. That’s not a “short-term anti-rental” program, she noted — it simply gives landlords an incentive to offer their homes to long-term residents.