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2023 CONVENING

In December 2023, we gathered 40 farmer leaders, affordable housing organizations, community land trusts, cooperative development groups, farm service providers, and members of local government to close out the first phase of our project.

In the five-hour convening, project co-leads Faith Gilbert and Chris Nickell summarized Working Group research and learnings to date, and presented a two-part strategy for future work that includes the next steps summarized below.

The event also included presentations from project partners:

  • Dennis Wedlick from BarlisWedlick and AIA-NY CRAN presented a rural build hypothetical case study of a three-family farmhouse on 2 acres

  • Lucinda Poindexter from Chester Agricultural Center offered us a preview of their design for 20+ units of housing

  • Rebecca Gillman Crimmins and Steve Rosenberg from Hudson Valley Affordable Housing & Conservation Strategy spoke about their work bringing together conservation organizations and affordable housing developers

  • Emily Hamilton from RUPCO reflected on our project from the perspective of her farm worker housing research and advocacy and her career as an affordable housing developer.

Next steps

With the completion of the Farmer Housing Working Group's Northeast SARE grant in early 2024, the project leads are pursuing additional funding opportunities for the work to continue. This work has two interrelated tracks:

Track 1: Development pathways

The interdisciplinary problem of farmer housing requires multi-faceted solutions. We offer three development pathways to pursue simultaneously:

1. A duplex or triplex farm house typology meets the most needs and preferences of farmers we surveyed and seems the most actionable model to build in rural and peri-urban areas in Columbia, Ulster, Dutchess, and Orange Counties where farmers want to live. We anticipate a majority of the solution will come from constructing these units on suitable sites in towns with favorable zoning codes.

2. Several nonprofit farms are also interested in building housing for their workers, with the possibility of housing farmers from other area businesses. We seek to support these nonprofit farms in their design, permitting, construction, rent-up, and management processes.

3. We also hope to create regulatory and funding changes that incentivize affordable housing developers to set aside units in larger projects for the agricultural workforce. These projects generally happen closer to large towns or small cities with more robust infrastructure, which would satisfy the needs of some farmers we surveyed.

We seek funding to support a full-time staff person to steward these development pathways. We anticipate this position being incubated at an established organization with expertise in housing development.

Track 2: farmer leadership development through advocacy

The Working Group has raised the profile of farmer housing substantially in a little over a year of work. More can be done.

By continuing to develop a cohort of farmer leaders, we seek to build and execute local, state, and federal campaigns that increase awareness of and funding for farmer housing in the Hudson Valley and beyond. These campaigns include:

1. Implementing municipal Community Housing Funds and Community Preservation Funds and directing them to support housing for land stewards,

2. Augmenting existing state funding for construction of farmer housing, and

 

3. Unlocking preference for agricultural workforce-based housing in state-administered federal funding streams.

We seek funding to support a part-time organizer to design and implement advocacy trainings for farmer leaders and stipends to pay for those farmer leaders participating in the trainings.

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