Ulster County seeks to buy state-owned property for veteran housing

A state-owned property at 67 Wurts Street in Kingston that Ulster County executive Mike Hein wants to convert to county-owned veterans' housing. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Ulster County Executive.

At a lofty price of $1, it won't be the biggest item in Ulster County's budget. But the purchase of a state-owned property at 67 Wurts Street in Kingston to provide veterans' housing is a big priority for Ulster County executive Mike Hein.

Hein announced today that state Senator Bill Larkin will be sponsoring a bill at the county's request. The bill will authorize the state Commissioner of the Office of General Services to transfer the ownership of the property, which was previously used as an Ulster-Greene ARC group home for people with developmental disabilities, to the county for $1.

There's a certain irony here: Ulster County is getting into the business of housing veterans just as it is getting out of the business of housing elderly local residents. The pending sale of the county-owned Golden Hill nursing home to a private company, which is slated to be completed by September, has been the source of much controversy since Hein first made it clear that he would seek to privatize Golden Hill.

In his State of the County address earlier this year, Hein mentioned the creation of county housing for homeless veterans as a priority for his office.

The bill will have to pass the state Senate and Assembly to become law.

Several local, state and county officials issued quotes in support of the project, in a press release issued by Hein's office today:

“I want to thank Senator Larkin for sponsoring this legislation,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein.   “As a tireless advocate for Veterans, Senator Larkin fully understands the struggles of our current Veteran population.  We look forward to working with our other State representatives in both the Senate and the Assembly to move this legislation forward.  It is my great hope that there will be unanimous bi-partisan agreement in both the Assembly and the Senate to pass this critical piece of legislation.”

County Executive Hein continued, “Ulster County’s Veterans have sacrificed in order to protect our freedoms and liberty.  Most recently, many young men and women have returned from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan and some have had great difficulty adapting to civilian life.  We owe our Veterans a tremendous debt of gratitude for their service and this legislation will afford Ulster County the ability to provide them the level of service they deserve.”

New York State Senator Bill Larkin said, “It is my privilege to sponsor this legislation.  I can think of no group more deserving of this support and I look forward to making this proposal a reality in order to assist our local Veterans for many years to come."

City of Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo said, “I want to thank Senator Larkin for sponsoring this legislation. This initiative is another great example of what can happen when all levels of government collaborate and work together.  Supporting our Veterans is a noble endeavor and I am extremely proud to be a part of forwarding this important initiative to support those who have given so much for our Country.”

Ulster County Legislator Wayne Harris said, “The Veterans’ transitional housing will be a great resource to our returning Veterans.  My only wish is that there was more we could do to assist these fine men and women as they return home.”

Ulster County Legislator Dave Donaldson said, “I am very happy with the County Executive’s proposal for Veterans’ transitional housing.  This location is a great fit for the City of Kingston and it will be an outstanding resource for Veterans in need.”

“Ulster County Director of Veterans Services and United States Naval Captain said, “The transition from military life to civilian life can sometimes be difficult. A Single location where our Veterans can live with their peers and have direct access to services is a tremendous asset for our Veterans. On behalf on all Ulster County Veterans I commend the County Executive for his leadership on this issue. Veteran homelessness in Ulster County is not always visible, but it exists and this initiative will help reach them.”