Schick comes to this new role with more than 27 years of experience as a leader working with real estate agents.
LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: RPAC Influence Beyond Politics
This month, I would like to bring to your attention an aspect of RPAC influence that goes under the radar
Believe it or not, there is an election this November.
This is referred to as an “Off-Off Election Year,” where town board members and county legislators are elected. Ultimately, we are in a hyper-local political season that hides in the shadow of the coming Presidential Election Year. I will not attempt to explain the nuances of local politics, nor will I start to prepare you for the politics of 2024…maybe next month.
This month, I would like to bring to your attention an aspect of RPAC influence that goes under the radar.
As many of you know, last month, the Hudson Valley was hit with severe thunderstorms and torrential rain that resulted in the destruction of many homes in and around the Highland Falls area of Orange County. In response to this storm, area HGAR members and our Interim CEO Jana Currier secured $500,000 in grant money for all households affected by this storm. Renters and homeowners can apply for a grant of up to $2,000 to offset mortgage, rent or hotel stay payments. Originally established after 9/11, the Realtors Relief Fund is designed to help individuals in tragedies such as this. Within a week of receiving the grant, HGAR staff, myself included, were on the ground in Highland Falls and the surrounding areas. A truly monumental task considering the quick turnaround and fluidity of receiving the grant monies.
What you might not know is how HGAR has been working behind the scenes in the aftermath of this devastating storm, speaking with almost every level of government from mayors to Congress members. When the thunderstorm passed and the devastation was assessed, local, state and federal officials started to consolidate resources. Almost immediately, HGAR was recognized as a community asset. Because of RPAC, HGAR is in regular contact with elected officials—mostly these interactions involve the status of bills, political fundraisers, and events like County Day. When the disaster struck, HGAR was quickly recognized not for our legislative clout, but for our commitment to the community’s good. Due to Jana’s initiative with local officials and our connections with Congressman Pat Ryan’s office, HGAR was invited to two resource fairs in the affected areas.
Unfortunately, what became painfully obvious was that FEMA and other government agencies were not going to be able to supply aid in a timely manner. Although HGAR could only provide $2,000 in grant money to each household, we were one of the only organizations at the resource fair that was able to provide financial support and local elected officials began referring residents to our table. It was truly heart-wrenching experience talking to individuals living in condemned houses and explaining their devastation and lack of options. Congressman Ryan’s office has been very appreciative of our ability to be on hand at the community resource fairs he organized.
I share this experience not to shame the lack of response from our government but to comment on the depth of the HGAR organization. To our elected officials, HGAR is not just known for its business interests or even our legislative goals, but as a community member. New York State Senator James Skoufis said it best when he attended our press conference and said, “I have been in government for a long time, but I have never interacted with an organization like HGAR.” Truly, we stand alone in business organizations in the area. I believe this recognition comes from our support of RPAC and our individual members that embody our ideals.
RPAC is the lifeblood of our industry. But what we do with that life blood is build and support community. We offer dynamic approaches and advocate for non-partisan solutions. RPAC and our individual efforts as Realtors and HGAR members allow us to be recognized for more than just our industry but for our humanity.
Dozens of families are receiving hope from the Realtors Relief Fund. Elected officials are turning to us to better connect with the community. HGAR is moving mountains and providing hope and we should take pride in what we do.