Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kingston could opt-in to new state tenant protections as early as July

A sign advertising a vacant apartment in Newburgh, New York (WAMC file photo)
Jesse King
A "for rent" sign in Newburgh, New York. (WAMC file photo)

The City of Kingston is once again discussing Good Cause eviction, following legislation passed in the New York state budget that allows upstate communities to opt-in to new tenant protections. It’s part of the housing puzzle city officials are hoping to solve.

During Tuesday night’s common council meeting, as residents and local activists urged the City of Kingston to pass a resolution in support of a ceasefire in Gaza, another phrase was also repeated: Good Cause Eviction.

Kingston passed its own Good Cause Eviction law in 2022 before rescinding it the following year as similar laws in other cities were struck down in court.

Now that the new state budget allows municipalities to pass a local law to opt-in to the tenant protections that regulate rent increases, Kingston is again taking up Good Cause.

Kingston has experienced rapid growth and steep housing costs in recent years, and city resident Katrina Houser told officials her eviction story Tuesday.

“I was evicted in February of 2023 and I couldn't understand it. Rent was paid every month, during COVID, everything. No damage to the property. She just wanted her property. So, in February I became homeless, me and my partner. And in April, he passed away. He was 80 years old. And I think it was the stress of becoming homeless for the first time in 79 years. He couldn’t understand how he paid his rent and still ended up out in the street,” said Houser.

The local law to opt-in to Good Cause is co-sponsored by city Alderwoman Michele Hirsch.

Hirsch, like others who favored a statewide a Good Cause policy, was initially skeptical of the compromise, which only mandates the protections for tenants in New York City.

“When we looked at the overall campaign during the budget season, we feel like we lost a lot and having to opt-in was considered a loss, but now that we're actually doing it, I'm pretty amazed that there is a law at the state level, Good Cause Eviction, that we can legally opt-in to without any preemption issues,” said Hirsch.

With a local law now being considered, Kingston could be one of the first communities outside of New York City to opt-in.

“I’m pretty sure that most of the council is on board, it's really great that our mayor is on board. And so, we're trying to really get it. It will go to committee at the end of this month, in May. If it passes out of committee, the soonest we can take a vote of the council would be beginning of July,” said Hirsch.

Kingston last year completed a new citywide zoning update, which, among other provisions, allows for homeowners to construct in-law apartments, or accessory dwelling units.

The state budget includes tax abatement programs for ADU’s, as well as new construction, items that Democratic Mayor Steve Noble is welcoming.

“We are going to hopefully have three local laws that are all going to get done by July, that will really help provide a whole lot of new opportunities. Both Good Cause, to help protect our tenants, and then to really be able to just develop these new incentive programs to be able to help housing development,” said Noble.

This week, Kingston released the results of a public survey that gauged interest in a local initiative that connects homeowners who want to rent an extra room with potential tenants.

HomeShare Woodstock is an effort by Family of Woodstock.

Of the survey’s 131 respondents – 90 of whom are Kingston residents – 100 people indicated a HomeShare program could help the housing emergency in New York’s first capital.

“We have some large homes here, two, three-thousand square feet, in some of our older housing stock. And for many of our residents who have lived here for a long time, owning one of these homes has a lot of maintenance and a lot of work that's needed. And being able to have someone share some of these homes, to be able to help pay some rent, but also provide some assistance around the house, it could really be a match made in heaven,” said Noble.

In March, Kingston’s adoption of the state’s Emergency Tenant Protection Act, which allows for rent stabilization, was upheld in a state appellate court. The city also declared in March that its short-term rental capacity, equal to 1 percent of the city's housing stock, had been reached.


Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.