The Fruits of Our Collective Labor

From the Desk of Greg Maher

Earlier this month, I traveled to Kingston with Leviticus’s Lending Associate, Jelani Jones, to help celebrate 40 years of creating homes, supporting people, and improving communities with RUPCO.

We attended a lunch and enjoyed speakers and videos and tributes for this great organization, founded as the Rural Ulster Preservation Corporation. Torrance Harvey, Mayor of Newburgh, was there too, and received an award from RUPCO, which is now doing considerable work in Newburgh. Leviticus has supported one of their projects, Newburgh Progress.

After lunch, Jelani and I headed over to introduce ourselves to Mayor Harvey. His face lit up when he heard we were from Leviticus, knowing we had commissioned and produced the recently adopted Newburgh Housing Report. He asked for my card – which I didn’t have since I hadn’t re-stocked my wallet post-pandemic – so we could set up a time to meet. 

He then said, “Hey, did you hear we just adopted a ‘Good Cause’ eviction law in Newburgh?” He said the council has been consulting Leviticus’ housing report and its recommendations, and that this was one of the Phase I Action items. 

According to the measure, approved on October 26, the

Newburgh Housing Report … outlined policy themes, goals and actions that could assist the City in developing a long-term strategy for meeting local housing needs. Strengthening and expanding eviction prevention programs, including adopting a “just cause” eviction law was identified as an action item to reduce incidents of eviction leading to homelessness. The primary purpose of this Article is to implement a policy recommendation of the City of Newburgh Housing Needs Assessment and Newburgh Housing Report intended to protect tenants from exorbitant and predatory rent increases that could result in a significant increase in homelessness in the City of Newburgh.

LL No. 6-2021, Chapter 240 “Rental Properties”

Newburgh is the third municipality in New York State to enact a Good Cause eviction law, joining Albany and Hudson. Tenants will now have tools to protect themselves from bad faith landlords trying to evict them for unjust reasons or making “unconscionable” increases in rent.

RUPCO says on their website, “We believe that everyone deserves quality, healthy and sustainable housing at an affordable price and we know communities thrive when there is diversity in their economic make-up and housing stock.” This dovetails perfectly with the values of Leviticus, and with our extended community of member, individual and organizational investors.

Leviticus’ Housing Report helped advocates make the case for Newburgh’s Good Cause eviction bill.

As we celebrate the harvest and give thanks for our many blessings, I’m happy to share the first tangible fruits of our collective labor from the Newburgh Housing Report. We’re grateful for support from JP Morgan Chase; Kevin Dwarka, Land Use and Economic Consultant; the Land Use Law Center at Pace Law School – and from all of our members and supporters.

Pictured Above: Leviticus Executive Director, Greg Maher (left) and Lending Associate, Jelani Jones (right) with Kevin O’Connor, RUPCO’s CEO.