Kingston: Helen's Story

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Dear Governor Andrew Cuomo,

My name is Helen. I am a part-time home health aide and I live in downtown Kingston with my five beautiful children.

In 2015, I was evicted and had to move temporarily to live with family in Syracuse. But Kingston is my home. I took time to find a new place in Kingston, where my children are happy and where they go to school.

It took me so long to find a habitable apartment that I could afford -- even with my Section 8 voucher. On top of monthly rent payments, landlords demand move-in fees and other monthly fees. Kingston is now one of the most unaffordable places in New York State. Homelessness has increased in my City, and more and more families are paying more than 30% of their income in rent.

After a long search I landed in our current apartment -- a three bedroom in a three-family house. I’m only able to pay the $1125  month in rent with the help of Section 8. But the apartment is in bad shape. This winter it got so cold that the pipes in our apartment froze. I did what anyone would do: I called my landlord. He refused to fix the pipes. Our home was temporarily condemned. I had no choice but to move move my family to a motel in Highland, New York -- 30 minutes outside of Kingston.

I have an old car that helps me get around but is in need of repair. But while living in the motel, small tasks like getting my kids to school became nearly impossible. I had to choose between getting them to school or getting myself to work -- between their education or a roof over their head. This is a choice no parent should have to make.

My landlord eventually purchased electric heaters to warm up the pipe -- this more than doubled my February electric bill. My apartment continues to have a significant mold problem in almost every room. My five children and neighbors breathe moldy air, day in and day out. My landlord refuses to make repairs, and even with Section 8, this is the only housing I can afford.

More and more people like me are struggling across New York State as your administration has failed to address the housing crisis. Homelessness has skyrocketed to over 89,000 homeless New Yorkers. Rents are increasing everywhere. There are no regulations that allow tenants like me to hold my landlord accountable.

Governor Cuomo: do the right thing. Stand up for families like mine. It’s not just New York City tenants who are struggling, and who deserve the right to a renewal lease. You must strengthen and expand tenants’ rights across New York State, and invest in code enforcement and housing quality in New York State’s 2018 budget.

Sincerely,

Helen
Mother and Home Health Aide
Kingston, NY