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Kingston Community Leaders: Rashida Tyler

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PHOTO: DAVID MCINTYRE
  • Photo: David McIntyre

What organization(s) are you involved with in Kingston and what is your role?

I am a co-founder of the Kingston Tenants Union and State Board member of Citizen Action: Hudson Valley Chapter.


Where do you go in Kingston to recharge?

Being in nature recharges me, so like to visit Hasbrouck Park and the Kingston Point Park whenever I can.


What is the biggest challenge facing Kingston?

The biggest challenge facing Kingston is balancing economic and social development, ensuring that everyone has equal access to Kingston’s emerging creative economy and is welcomed and included when they do participate.


What is the most woke thing Kingston could do?

Create a Housing First Model, such that those who do become homeless are rapidly re-housed. Also, creating intentional opportunities that uplift and empower its most marginalized residents.


Where is your favorite place to go in Kingston for a bite or a beer? What do you like about it?

Kingston has so many great places to go for bite (The Anchor, Sissy’s Cafe, Peace Nation) but I love Ruby Mae’s Soul Food Restaurant. It just re-opened on lower Broadway in the Rondout. It feels cozy, yet cosmopolitan at the same time-plus it has a great outdoor space!


Why does your organization’s work matter?

I have wanted to start a city-wide tenants union for over 10 years. Growing up in Kingston there was a clear disparity between renters, landlords and homeowners. Renters tended to be low- income and people of color. Citizen Action and the Kingston Tenants Union’s work matters because they give voice to communities that are often disenfranchised, specifically the low-income and people of color. Grassroots organizing shows people they have more power than they think.


What challenges/pain points does your organization face?

We are always looking for housing! I receive emails almost every day from those desperate to find housing. There’s not enough. I’d love to set up a way for landlords to let us know when they have vacancies, so we can pass that along to tenants.


What is one service/offering/event your organization offers that the community might not know about?

The Kingston Tenants Union offers advocates that will accompany people in need of services to the Department of Social Services and housing court. We also refer tenants to other organizations to support their needs.


Why do you love living in Kingston?

I love Kingston because I grew up here. I grew up exploring Ponckhockie, the caves, the Delaware Avenue forest, riding my bike around the neighborhood until the streetlights came on; trick-or-treating from Downtown to Uptown...and back (what curfew?). I know this city by the back of my hand.


If you could change one single thing about the city, what would it be?

For the city or county to provide a van or shuttle for the homeless families living in the motels on Route 28, so they do not have to walk along the shoulder of 587.


Where do you see Kingston in five years?

I see Kingston developing according to the needs of its residents, while preserving its open spaces (including a greenbelt on our waterfront) and historic character. The government, schools, community, and youth-serving organizations all working collaboratively to ensure that no child is hungry, homeless, or lost in the school-to-prison pipeline. I also see greater access to housing, education, recreation, and transportation for all within our community regardless of their color, immigration status, or economic circumstances.


Tell me why you love Hasbrouck Park?

I love Hasbrouck Park because of its beautiful view of the Hudson River and quiet grandeur. It also has hiking trails and picnic/BBQ areas. It’s an urban oasis.


What the best lesson you learned from you mother?

When was about 5, I asked my mom, “Why is the sky blue?” Her reply was, “Actually it isn’t. The way the sunlight refracts off gases in the atmosphere makes the sky appear blue to our eyes.” I was like, “Ok.” The message was clear: assume nothing, question everything. “Why” is a powerful word.

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