SCHENECTADY — In the aftermath of a well-attended town hall that gathered community feedback on rising rent costs in the city, the Schenectady City Council continues to explore solutions to the issue.
During a City Development and Planning Committee meeting on Dec. 19, City Councilman Carl Williams said the Dec. 1 town hall at the Schenectady Boys & Girls Club was an important initial step in addressing the problem.
“I thought it was a nice opportunity for interaction,” Williams said of the forum. “I think commonly when we hear of discussion it’s very easy for people to become defensive. I thought one of the staples of that meeting was that really people listened from all accounts.”
Following the Monday meeting, Williams said any potential city legislation addressing housing costs would not be introduced in the immediate future.
“I would say it’s far down the road in the sense that there was a lot of feedback from the community and I think our next step is reaching out to organizations and bringing them to the table,” he said. “As a new councilmember, I want to make sure I’m doing everything appropriately and definitely working collaboratively with the community.”
Williams noted that he plans to reach out to Schenectady Landlords Influencing Change (SLIC), tenants groups and the Schenectady Municipal Housing Authority for feedback as the process moves forward.
“We definitely wanted to make sure we have a broad reach as far as how the issue of housing affects these organizations and we wanted to have them send an advocate to make sure that feedback and perspective is included in this,” he said.
The council began discussions regarding the rising rent prices over the summer, with the possibility of using rent stabilization measures raised by the council.
“There were very powerful conversations that were present,” Williams said of the town hall. “I know some of the concerns were around rent stabilization and rent controls. I’m excited to identify that there were a lot of recommendations to include that, but also understanding what our city council is authorized to do.”
Board President Marion Porterfield noted during the Dec. 19 meeting that the town hall produced a civil exchange of ideas.
“Not that I expected anything different, but everybody respected the other person’s opinion,” she said of the town hall. “It wasn’t controversial as someone tried to imply to me recently. That didn’t happen, it wasn’t that. It was, ‘This is where I stand and this is how I see it.’ Like I always say, ‘How you see it depends on where you sit.’ So we got to see both sides and how they saw it.”
During the town hall forum, renters detailed their difficulties finding affordable, safe housing while landlords noted that they have experienced property damage and non-payment of rent from tenants.
“I don’t think that we really got to appreciate or understand the full breadth of the issue until we had the town hall,” City Councilman Damonni Farley said during the Dec. 19 meeting. “I think that just the attendance alone and people’s ability to talk about this issue as one from the landlord side and tenant side, there was a lot of common ground and shared concerns and values.”
Williams said he would forward the Dec. 19 meeting minutes to local housing agencies with hopes to continue the dialogue at future council meetings.
“I think the next steps definitely include working more collaboratively with some of our local organizations who are probably better suited to impact this conversation,” he said during the meeting.
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How many more millions of dollars are the taxpayers going to Foote for so-called affordable housing? I’ve watched over the last 25 years or so money being spent from grants and tax payers refurbishing houses at the expense of as much as it would cost to build a new one. I watched single-family houses being built for people in Hamilton Hill, and being destroyed in a matter of a couple years. If you gave everybody in Schenectady $1 million within a year the same people would be broke the same people would be just making it, and the same people would be rich stop wasting money
What a positive movement. I look forward to reading more on it’s progress.
Yeah Stalka because you don’t live in the city and have to pay for the taxes.