Columbia County Launches New Housing Support Programs

Expanded housing services and support due to COVID-19

November 2, 2020

Columbia County Department of Social Services (DSS) is partnering with St. Catherine’s Center for Children, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, and Columbia-Greene Continuum of Care to expand housing services and support due to COVID-19 in Columbia County. The new initiatives are funded through a $253,000 grant New York State through the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).

“The economic impacts of COVID-19 have particularly impacted those at risk of homelessness and the working poor, says Robert Gibson Commissioner of DSS. “This program will help alleviate some of those stresses and keep people housed.”

The economic impacts of the pandemic combined with the lack of affordable housing and limited prevention funds continue to put more people at risk of losing housing.

The Legal Aid Society will provide legal services to minimize the number of evictions. Legal Aid will support tenants in learning their rights and will represent them in court. To apply for services, call 518-462-6765.

“It’s important that tenants understand their rights and have the support they need to fight back wrongful evictions and landlord harassment,” says Robert Romaker from Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York.

Using grant dollars, St Catherine’s is providing rapid rehousing services for people who don’t have housing or are at serious risk of losing housing soon. To apply for services, contact Kylle Proper at 518-337-7021 or kproper@st-cath.org.

“Now, more than ever, vulnerable people need stable housing and support services,” said Frank Pindiak, executive director of St. Catherine’s Center for Children. “The good news? This need has the attention of leaders from around New York state. St. Catherine’s is proud to collaborate with DSS Commissioner Robert Gibson and our partners at Columbia County to provide support and services to meet this most basic of human needs, stable and secure housing.”

The County’s Housing Needs Assessment found that in 2017, 45.2% of renters were rent-overburdened. Since then, rents have continued to rise.

“During this difficult time, we need to keep people housed,” says Supervisor Michael Chameides (Hudson-3). “These programs benefit our residents, our economy, and our public health. I’m grateful to have the State, County, and multiple agencies collaborate on solutions.”

Eviction Moratorium

There is a NYS eviction moratorium through January 1, 2021. Evictions proceedings can start and go through the courts. However, tenants who are unable to pay rent due to financial hardship or substantial income loss cannot be evicted prior to January 1

After the eviction moratorium is over, Legal Aid Society and St. Catherines will be providing additional support services to help address the additional housing needs and to help keep residents housed.

About St. Catherine’s

St. Catherine’s Center for Children was founded as an orphanage in Albany in 1886. Today, St. Catherine’s is a regional human services provider offering a comprehensive range of human services for children, families, and adults coping with issues of homelessness, abuse, neglect, mental illness, and access to health care. In addition to offering extensive services to the homeless and those who are at-risk of becoming homeless, St. Catherine’s offers residential services for children ages 5 to 13, therapeutic foster care services, a special-education elementary school, and community-based services and programs designed to strengthen vulnerable families and adults. For more information, visit www.st-cath.org.

The Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, which has been in existence since 1923, fights for fairness, dignity, and justice for those living in poverty and for a society which is inclusive and equitable for all. The organization transforms lives, builds community, and empowers people by using the law to address individual and systemic wrongs and inequities.

Learn more about my affordable housing efforts, including anti-displacement, policy, rights and resources, and services for people without homes.