Last night, at the end of a lackluster Common Council meeting during which aldermen unanimously approved every resolution before them with little or no discussion, Mayor Richard Scalera reported on the county's progress in creating congregate housing as an alternative to housing homeless people in motels.
Scalera reported that the Department of Social Services has entered into an agreement to lease 518 Columbia Street, a building owned by Phil Gellert, for congregate housing. According to Scalera, DSS made the decision to lease the building and had already started moving the furniture in before seeking permission from city government to locate such a facility in Hudson.
The building, which is being renovated after a fire, will have two apartments, one on each floor. Each apartment has three bedrooms with a common area and a kitchen. The intention is to house four people in each apartment. The original plan was to house eight single men in the building, but Scalera indicated that on Monday night the Board of Supervisors ordered DSS Commissioner Paul Mossman to make the two units available to single women not men.
The move to congregate housing was one of the recommendations of a recently completed efficiency study done on the Department of Social Services. The goal is to reduce the cost of providing transitional housing for homeless people, but, as Scalera noted, there is "no indication that this [cost-saving measure] is better for the people." It's also not clear how cost efficient it is. The county is reportedly paying $2,300 a month for the two apartments and, according to the lease agreement, started paying rent on October 1, even though the apartments won't be ready for occupancy into until sometime in December.
At the end of the discussion, Scalera made the point that, because the building is being renovated after a fire, a certificate of occupancy from City of Hudson Code Enforcement Office will be required before people can be moved into the apartments.