The good news about the local housing crisis

The local housing crisis remains dire, but among the dearth of painful stories and depressing statistics are glints of brightness and heartening progress.

In the past few years alone, we’ve seen large-scale housing projects proposed that never came to fruition. We’ve documented the impact of the short-term vacation rental boom and the coronavirus pandemic on the housing market. We’ve heard stories of people in unfortunate and unsafe living situations because of the housing crunch. We’ve seen local school enrollment decline as families struggle to put down roots here. We’ve seen local businesses struggle to find qualified, quality employees as the labor market shrinks, in part due to a lack of affordable housing options. And, quite frankly, we’ve also seen many young people who’ve grown up here write off home ownership as a pipe dream. Who can blame them, when single-family homes that were once affordable to the average person just 10 years ago now exceed sale prices of more than a quarter of a million dollars?

We’re all well aware of the reality we’re living in this part of the Adirondacks — but we can’t lose sight of the progress that we’re seeing across the Tri-Lakes.

In Lake Placid, both the MacKenzie Overlook and Fawn Valley housing developments have come to fruition, a combined 82 new units added to the market. The developers of Fawn Valley are also planning another 22-home development, Fox Hill, and a cooperative is planning a new development of 20 to 40 homes off of Averyville Road. In Saranac Lake, the 70-unit Lofts project off of Broadway is going up quickly. In Tupper Lake, the redevelopment of the former Oval Wood Dish Factory into a multi-purpose building with 80 housing units is slated to break ground this summer.

Provided all of these developments in the works happen, these alone would be at least 192 new units, 274 including MacKenzie Overlook and Fawn Valley.

Another piece of progress: Last week, the village of Tupper Lake was named a “pro-housing community” by the state, joining the town of North Elba, which earned the same certification earlier this year. The village of Saranac Lake is also in the process of applying for the certification.

With this designation, Tupper Lake and North Elba will be eligible to access $650 million in state discretionary funding. Hopefully, funding will be used to spur the creation of more housing.

New units aren’t the solution to our housing problem. Housing experts say that such a multi-pronged problem will take multiple solutions, including the rehabilitation of existing housing and the reclaiming of long-vacant “zombie” properties. But they’re a tangible sign of progress, something we love to see.


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