Saratoga Springs workforce housing project moving forward

FILE - Saratoga Springs City Council Commissioner of Accounts Dillon Moran
FILE - Saratoga Springs City Council Commissioner of Accounts Dillon Moran
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SARATOGA SPRINGS — The design and site review plan phase of a project to construct workforce housing in Saratoga Springs will begin soon as the city approved zoning changes to the proposed development during a special meeting held last Monday.

Liberty Affordable Housing, a not-for-profit, is looking to build 215 units of workforce housing on the corner of Crescent Avenue and Jefferson Street near Saratoga Hotel and Casino. 

The lot proposed for the development was originally zoned as rural residential, but was changed to urban residential by the council so that the project could move forward.  

According to Dillon Moran, the city’s commissioner of accounts, over the last several years, those who work in the city, along with city officials, business owners and other organizations, have pushed for more affordable housing in a county that in the last three years alone saw a 30% increase in housing market costs.

“The average house right now costs $538,000,” he said. “That’s unaffordable to an average human being. We have an economy that’s based around a  service model and the workers within that economy don’t make a wage commensurate with being able to live in this community because of a lack of options for them.”

Moran said the project was previously proposed about five years ago and wasn’t approved by the city’s Planning Board due to a variety of concerns about it. 

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Moran said this project is different from traditional government subsidized housing because it supports housing for people who have an income of 60% to 90% the average median income for Saratoga County, which is determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“These are people who are teachers, new firemen, police officers, nurses, folks who work in healthcare fields and associated jobs,” he said. 

Moran said that while there are 3,800 employees who work at Saratoga Hospital, only 18% live in the city.

“And they have 800 job openings,” he said. “So we don’t have enough people to do the work that needs to be done and part of that reason I put [this project] forward is because there’s not viable housing options for people to live and work here.”

The zoning change and push forward with the project is a “huge success story,” said Todd Shimkus, the executive director of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce.

He said the project will double the number of affordable workforce housing units in the city. 

“It’s exactly what we need to do more of,” Shimkus said.

He said currently between the Promenade Apartments, done by the state Housing Authority and the Intrada Apartments, created by a private developer, there are around 240 units in the city for workforce housing. 

“If we want to have a strong, viable, sustainable economy, we have to allow and enable more people to live and work in the city; that’s what this approval does for us,” Shimkus said.

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