State of the County

Ed Day’s State of the County Address Touts New Investment; Acknowledges Housing Crisis

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County Growth Is Strong But Lack Of Affordable Housing Continues To Challenge Residents


More than $1 billion was invested in new projects in Rockland County in 2023, which created nearly 1,000 jobs, according to the Rockland County Industrial Development Agency. But affordable housing remains a significant challenge.

This milestone was touted by Rockland County Executive Ed Day in his State of the County address delivered today from the county building on Sanatorium Road in Pomona. The first 20 minutes of Day’s speech were strafed with a barrage of angry comments from pro-Palestinian protesters who interrupted every two to three minutes before being led out of the room one by one by county police. Day paused when protesters called out “free Palestine” and “you dis” for the first third of his address. Ultimately he had his say.

“I support Israel,” he said. “Fully and completely. There I said it.” He said the protesters had suddenly “found an issue” and pointed out that Hamas had carried out a horrific attach against Jews on Oct. 7.

“Now back to Rockland County,” he said.

“Rockland’s thriving economy is attracting more investments by businesses, which will offset costs to taxpayers,” said Day. “The current focus of my administration is maximizing momentum we have generated to ensure this county’s continued success and fiscal stability for generations to come.”

But affordable housing remains a steep problem in the county.

Last year, the Office of Community Development partnered with Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress to conduct a comprehensive community and affordable housing needs assessment. The findings will be presented at the second Housing Forum on April 19th. The hope is to create a roadmap for local governments to select from as they see fit, Day said.

  • Nearly 60 percent of homes in this county are single-family detached homes.
  • The average price of those single-family homes is nearly $700,000.
  • The median household income in Rockland is $100,000, which only qualifies for a $260,000 mortgage. That is a huge gap for the average resident to overcome.
  • There is a housing deficit of 4,200 units for those making under $60,000.

“We are talking about our essential workers including teachers, first responders, retail workers, government employees, and more… all unable to afford safe housing here,” said Day. “The first recommendation we are pursuing immediately is hiring a housing coordinator to lead any and all affordable housing initiatives we plan to pursue.”

The second is utilizing ARPA funding to create a revolving loan program.

This program will provide direct loans to borrowers for affordable housing projects in Rockland. And because it is a revolving loan, proceeds from loan repayments flow back into the fund for future housing opportunities.

“This is a national problem that did not develop overnight, nor will it be solved overnight, and I implore our families at home to be patient,” said Day. “I will continue to take every opportunity to make things better for everyone. I also call on my partners in government and our County legislators to work with me and my administration to knock down financial barriers for our families. Costs in this county and country are far too high… and families are stretched thin. The best thing we can do to help them is find ways to put money back into the pockets of the people as we did with this year’s budget and our tax cut.”

In other news, Day attributed the growth of the county to investment in county staff and training. He highlighted the Personnel Department’s launch of a learning library with more than 600 training sessions and personal development for employees.

The County Executive also stressed the importance of investing in today’s youth.

“We are investing more into our future labor force with our Youth Employment Program,” said Day. “This year our Youth Bureau will employ hundreds of young individuals who will work over 40,000 hours with employers. This provides youth with the valuable skills they’ll need when they enter the workforce.”

The county notably ramped up its efforts to attract tourism, a significant staple to strengthen the economy and raise the county’s profile in the Hudson Valley. The county hired Lake Placid-based marketing company Workshop for $500,000 to promote the county.

In February, the county awarded nearly $300,000 in tourism grants to 31 organizations – the highest ever since launching this initiative. Grants are used to promote Rockland’s events outside the county. In 2022, tourism generated $513 million in sales in Rockland, saving the average household $581 in yearly property taxes.

Another effort was directed to addressing Rockland’s transit system, which is critical for those without cars.

“We’re planning to purchase two dozen new TRIPS paratransit buses,” said Day. “The best part is they’ll be purchased with Federal and State funding.”

The county will continue to provide free TOR bus service.

There is ongoing focus on the efficacy of fire and emergency services in the county.

“This includes expanding property tax deductions under New York State for volunteers,” said Day. “We’ve awarded over $115,000 from our two College Tuition programs, HERROES & Edges. These programs reimburse volunteer first responders for part or all their tuition in exchange for their service to the County.”

The county plans to hire several fire training instructors for the fire training center and the new Fire Operations Building. Also on the purchasing list is a breathing apparatus training maze, which will be paid for with a $300,000 grant.

Veterans too have been helped in 2023. The Veterans Service Agency received a 55 percent increase in claims and secured veterans more than $4 million in benefits.

“We helped a Gulf War veteran who unsuccessfully tried to obtain financial assistance on his own for a decade. When he finally came to us our team secured him over $2,000 a month in benefits,” said Day.

The county plans to hire an additional veteran service officer to assist with claims.

The county also put muscle into helping the aged through classes to improve strength, flexibility and balance with Zumba and Chair Yoga. The office also assisted in arranging nearly 4,000 rides for seniors to get to medical appointments.

The county continues to recognize the value of preserving land with the purchase of nearly 40 acres via its Open Space Acquisition Program. And the county, using $10 million in ARPA grants, distributed monies to municipalities and nonprofits for two dozen projects for parks, playgrounds, and gardens across Rockland.

The county also ramped up its fight against hate and discrimination in this county, including more public outreach. The Human Rights Commission launched three satellite offices across the county.

Holding irresponsible landlords to account also topped the list of priorities in 2023.

Days said the Department of Consumer Protection investigated 617 complaints, pursued 166 prosecutions for unlicensed contracting, and returned $66,000 to homeowners. The Health Department’s Center for Rockland Codes Investigations conducted 7,200 inspections, a 20 percent increase over the prior year.

Since being mandated by New York State to enforce the Uniform Code in the Village of Spring Valley, our Office of Buildings and Codes has conducted more than 2,000 inspections in two years. Those inspections resulted in over 12,000 violations and at least $500,000 in fines.

“But enforcement is only a band aid, as it does not solve what is causing this issue which is lack of housing,” said Day, echoing an issue that is mentioned by county and town officials again and again but seemingly without any resolve. “We don’t have the housing stock needed to drive down home and apartment prices, which is resulting in residents living in dangerously overcrowded conditions.”