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Group Seeks Affordability Requirement For New Saratoga Developments

This is a picture of an "Apartment For Rent" sign

Saratoga Springs has become a hotbed for development. Much of downtown’s development in recent years has been in the form of new high-end apartments and condos. One recent headline showed a condo in the heart of the city for sale for $5.5 million.

Sustainable Saratoga has seen the trend in the city’s housing market. Harry Moran chairs the local non-profit.

“Most of the inventory of housing that’s been created in the last 10 years is not affordable to the vast majority of city residents or the many people who come into the city to work,” said Moran.

High housing prices and a bustling business community mean good things for the city’s bottom line, but advocates say it’s pushing low- and moderate-income families and individuals out.

Moran says his group’s local bill would ensure a slice of those new developments would remain affordable.

“To make sure that up to 20 percent of those units are affordable for households earning under the $82,000 median income in Saratoga Springs,” said Moran.

Jennifer Vucetic, Communications Chair For the New York State Association of Realtors and an Assistant Broker with Better Homes and Gardens, said Saratoga Springs and the surrounding area weathered the Great Recession well. She attributed the entry of the nearby chip-fab plant GlobalFoundries with driving up the need for housing. 

“With GlobalFoundries coming into the area, there was a big boom of other companies so coming into the area to feed of this. So one of the biggest trends that we’ve seen is people only being hired on a two- to three-year contract,” said Vucetic.

Vucetic says that means employees are looking to rent, not buy.

“So it really has priced out the local residents from being able to afford these rentals,” said Vucetic.

Moran and Sustainable Saratoga hope their bill will reignite discussion over an affordable housing ordinance first proposed in 2006. The group says more than 500 communities across the country have adopted similar affordable housing requirements.

“With sustainability we tend to think of the environmental and open space implications. But there’s a very storng economic argument for maintaining a diverse population,” said Moran. 

The Saratoga Springs City Council will meet on Tuesday evening.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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