About Tim Rowland

Tim Rowland is a columnist, author and outdoors writer living in Jay.

Reader Interactions


  1. jj says

    The Adirondack area is not unique to affordability problems. 40 years ago when I bought my first house it was very small and it needed work. I spent many years in my 20s working overseas and saving my money – I made huge sacrifices working hard in Africa – I worked in places like Sudan during a civil war… Now that’s a crisis.

    My point is it took huge personal focus and work and this is no different now.

    One solution, Trade schools should be a priority of the region. Skilled trades in electrical, plumbing, carpentry, roofing, painting ect are skills in short supply. A skilled person gets paid very well and are they are in short supply. There is plenty of old housing stock in need of repair. Invest in trades.

    • Jim V says

      Another problem exists with this. Here’s an example – a friend of mine bought a run down house that had been vacant for 50 years. That’s 50. But it had good bones, so he bought it for more than it was worth, fixed it up – and his tax assessment immediately tripled. You can almost price yourself out of your own house by being in the trades. NY state is a tough place to live.

      • jj says

        Jim V the taxes are true observation. Refurb properties should have a tax abetement program that defers the increase for ten years or so. The abatement is motivtaion to invest, fix and stay. I’ve seen massive renovations and deferred taxes downstate in 1980s.

        There is no one fix. Houses will not fix or build themselves and there are hundreds of houses on the market today that need skilled trades not more studies.

  2. Lee Nellis says

    Excellent article with nice graphics.

    But seriously incomplete. It ignores the structural nature of the problem (which is why affordable housing is also a serious issue in rural communities that have little of the appeal of the Adirondacks). It has been clear at least since the Reagan era that supply side solutions to the ails of capitalism are, at best, insufficient. This is usually argued in terms of tax policy, but its true in housing, too.

    It would indeed be great to build more housing in the Adirondacks (though not at the cost of the region’s natural appeal) and one can only applaud the efforts that are described here. But, as elsewhere, they don’t (and won’t) touch the numbers that are needed. I recently toured a project in Bozeman, MT where a community land trust has to write down $300,000 of the cost of a home to get a family supported by professional salaries into it. The numbers may not be quite so forbidding in the Adirondacks, but how far can philanthropy and grants take us?

    Why are we not talking about tax policy? A Georgist Land Value Tax would take speculative land values out of the housing cost equation and shift the costs of government away from improvements, including new homes. Why not?

    Why are we not talking about the income side of affordability? To suggest just one tiny measure, would providing affordable day care allow families to comfortably pay a little more for housing? Of course it would. Why not?

    I will not ramble on. Just one more point. The national housing crisis is not due to a failure or a breakdown in the system. We have a system that is designed to create and concentrate wealth and it is doing exactly that. If we can’t change the system, we can’t solve this problem.

    • Vanessa B says

      I agree 100% with this, but big systemic change is tough. There is a lot that can be done to improve the situation given present circumstances.

      Further, if we’re ambitious, maybe the ADKs could be a model. It’s already a super unique and progressive place in terms of the protection of the park and the hybrid nature of those protections, allowing for communities to be in the midst of so much protected land.

      I think if you aim for the stars, hopefully you land someplace further than marcy field to the garden parking lot, lol

  3. Vanessa B says

    This was a good debut to this series – many kudos. I think it was clear via my comments over the pandemic that my family tried to make a permanent move to the region in 2021 that didn’t happen. We had a lot of reasons for not being able to make a move work: child care availability and costs, housing availability, ability to work full-time remotely.

    I do want to be honest and comment that there also was cold feet re the justifiably maligned concept of a “cultural fit.” I think it’s still quite a mixed bag re whether local residents even want young people of a certain flavor in their communities. But nor do I think it’s unreasonable to be uncomfortable with vegan granola crunching hippies like me either. Lol I realize I do not represent the majority of the country, or even of my generation…

    …buuuuut, the average millennial or zoomer, which is the demographic that everyone claims to prize, is more woke than the generation dominating the region at the moment. It’s June 1st, and my big multinational office in the city has a giant honking progress flag in the lobby and a Pride flag raising later today and a bunch of zoom backgrounds with lesbians and drag queens that you can download for your meetings. We booked a major NBA player to celebrate Juneteenth for a meeting that will be attended by 1000s of employees. This is a company that all of the boomers have their retirement funds invested in. It understands that being woke is profitable, because being woke attracts the talent from my generation that you need to succeed.

    The point being: some people in the ADKs are verrrrry uncomfortable with the culture and future that is producing all of the above phenomena. As a granola crunching hippie, I mean you all no harm, and I truly mean you ALL. I want you to have healthcare on my tax dime.

    …but I’m not sure everyone who would be a neighbor can say the same for me and my values, or frankly the values of people far less “radical” than I am. In 2020 and 2021 this tension was examined ad infinitum and like the theme of this article – no resolution was arrived at.

    I think this series would benefit from keeping the following in mind too – what is the culture of the communities of the Adirondacks? How has tourism affected that culture? Because locals are so priced out of reasonable housing, does this affect whether they even want new residents? New residents of certain trades or income levels? Full time remote workers in service industries?

    To close: it is worth repeating that many people and communities have been wonderfully welcoming as my family and I have visited over the years. Further, even I see the vibe slowly changing to accommodate the new generation in *certain parts of the Park. I am still deeply hopeful both that I will live the dream of being full-time, and so will many others from a diverse set of backgrounds. Looking forward to the rest of this series.

    • A mom says

      Vanessa, you’ve hit a big nail right on the head. My kids are highly paid remote workers, currently living in big expensive, west coast cities. One of them wants to move back to the east coast, but demands outdoor adventure opportunities. He and his wife came out to look at a home for sale in our area (southern Hamilton County). Between the Confederate flag in my neighbor’s yard, the dumb “Don’t Blame Me I Voted for Trump” flags, the guys at our local bar bragging about switching to Miller Light instead of Bud Light… they left feeling like they could never be welcome here. They were also very concerned that the schools would be too conservative, and not stimulating. Sadly, I couldn’t disagree with them. Clearly, there are some people with money who will build a house here that isn’t a vacation home, but it’s a limited pool of people I suspect.

      • Vanessa B says

        I appreciate the reply, Mom 🙂

        Right, there is definitely a demographic of remote finance/healthcare/especially techie millennials that would come for the outdoors opportunities. I could list a dozen friends off the top of my head who want to move someplace next to quality hiking.

        And it’s not even that the challenges are insurmountable either. Or that there is a unified “culture” of the Adirondacks. Kudos to your kid for giving it a shot – it takes people even inquiring to move the cultural needle.

        But see Lake Tahoe post pandemic as an example of why folks’ qualms may be more legitimate than one would assume. I read a lot about what I’ll call the “townie-techie” wars when a bunch of Bay Area folks started moving in. Never fun to relocate someplace and have people start waving signs at you…

        …and the critique that wealthier buyers won’t solve the housing crisis is fair, too. That’s why I support the initiatives in this article.

  4. Mike Parwana says

    Good introduction to the broad problem. One point I think may be worth a bit more emphasis is the recalcitrance of local elected leaders over decades in promoting better planning, trying to use the existing planning/zoning structures to build out denser and more liveable hamlets with quality services instead of fighting pitched battles against park planning. While people spent a lot of time fighting for or against sprawling up-market developments that mostly never materialized housing/hamlets crumbled, people got older and retired and their businesses closed, sometimes their homes didn’t turn over to a new generation, often because people don’t like to think about succession plans that maybe don’t maximize the value to retirees or their families, or there is no financial incentive (or resources) to maximize value to a community. There is so much to discuss! But the discussion isn’t of value unless voters elect people who will look at the problems with an open mind and work toward solutions that may take decades to come to fruition.

    • Alexis Sousa says

      Great initiative! Here are my two cents. I believe that to make any dent to solve the housing crisis (anywhere in the country) we’ll need a change in paradigm. People now see houses as “investiment” or as “second homes”, but the reality is that these should be secondary roles. The main role of a house is to provide shelter to a family. Housing should start to be seen as a basic human need above everything else, not unlike food. Imagine what would happen if wealthy individuals would start to amass rice because they expect the price to increase or because they think they need to have in storage all the rice they need to eat during their whole lives: the market would go crazy, prices would increase and this would attract “rice speculators” hoping for a quick and easy profit. That is the situation in the housing “market” nowadays. Legislators will need to face this problem at some point and declare housing security something as important as food security.

      • Rob says

        So you want the government to get involved to make laws about people being able to buy a 2nd home?? The government should not be making laws against the number of homes people can buy

  5. Peter says

    We moved to the Adirondacks after I retired 18 years ago. We have a house with no mortgage and automobiles with no payments. The logistics of living here are challenging and expensive. Trips to the doctor and buying groceries in all types of weather, the high cost of energy, the cost of home upkeep, finding repair people when something breaks, finding health care, are some of the challenges we face living in the beautiful pristine Adirondacks.

  6. Ronny James says

    The disparity in ADK housing is outrageous. As a telephone repairman for the last decade I have been to Great Camps wrapped in luxury to small huts covered in moss. This phenomenon is not unique to the Adirondacks but rampant all over America. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. A paradigm shift will be necessary to reexamine our social priorities and fight the plague of “Capitalism on Fire”. As it is we are a nation divided. The poor will survive this debacle but the rich will either share their fortunate positions or be forced to join the downtrodden as we eat your cake.

  7. Kierin Bell says

    Lee Nellis makes an excellent point here. Economic development agencies will of course always want to increase (and subsidize) housing supply. Nonetheless, they seem to have also convinced many that housing affordability problems are caused by supply constraints, despite the obvious pitfalls of endogeneity bias in such assertions.

    This is about much more than housing supply. It’s about whether the Adirondacks follows in the footsteps of other tourist destinations — the evolution towards the Disney Land experience, where housing becomes so unaffordable that it must be centrally controlled and, eventually, the few natural attractions that are left are replaced by artificial ones (arenas, resorts, etc.). …Or, we manage to break the cycle, and local economies survive.

  8. A mom says

    I don’t see any actual evidence presented here that there is, in fact, a large, unmet need for full time homes for young professionals, yet this seems to be one of the premises of this article. What demographics suggest this is a problem? And who could afford newly constructed homes here (given the costs of new construction) besides people in professional occupations? Are these remote workers who supposedly want to move here full time, but don’t because of housing?

  9. rumrum says

    priceless stuff….I get these articles through APLGRB(review board). This article was first. The second article was about new townhomes: “has started construction on the final phases of a townhome development in the Adirondacks near the base of Whiteface Mountain, called the Owaissa Club. The project is over a DECADE old in the making”…..and we wonder why?

  10. Mike Parwana says

    When we see long standing problems in local communities like lack of affordable housing, bad telecommunications infrastructure, failing or no municipal sewer, un inspected septic on lakefront homes…you name the issue that lingers unresolved for years and decades, we must look at some underlying failure in our system of government. I submit that the supervisor system of county government is failing us. It doesn’t encourage broad solutions across wide regions. Instead it often happens that supervisors elected in very small population towns collect an additional paycheck at the county level and then represent their siloed ideas at the county. There is no political incentive for them to follow up on ideas that challenge the status quo. Those trying to bring change are facing a political status quo death spiral.

  11. Lorraine Pantaleo says

    This appears to be a much needed and thorough assessment of the many sides,
    issues and people awareness of them. I find it very interesting as I grew up in
    the PH/Moriah/Mineville/Westport area and can see how deteriorated and depressed it has become. I remember the 40s and 50s when there seemed to
    be a lot to do and main streets were healthy.

    I have grandchildren on the west coast who want to come back to the east and
    are outdoors people but are educated and “cultured”. The problem is proper growth without destroying the reason people want to come and live in the
    Adirondacks and educational, cultural opportunities around for them to enjoy.

  12. Jeanine says

    After I graduated from college I moved to Wilmington. There were jobs at Whiteface Mtn. It was the best time of my life & the best age to do all of my outside adventures! Lakes, mountains, skiing, fishing & hiking all right there. I worked with young parents & they struggled for grocery stores, handymen, & women, doctors, good medical care & good schools. Things there now are worse because of housing & all I’ve spoken about above. There sure are lots of second homes, bigger grocery stores now. Lake Placid isn’t what it used to be. It was quaint now it appears there is no Code Enforcement. Just anything goes. It’s sad, no housing & schools are having to close. Just my 2 cents….Seemed a whole better & balanced back in 1981.

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