The Register-Star today reports what Gossips reported yesterday: Promise Neighborhood was gotten a reprieve. Not only that, the rent, which reportedly had previously been increased to $800 a month, has now been reduced to $650 a month for the rest of the year. It would seem that the hue and cry in response to Promise Neighborhood's imminent eviction has achieved the desired outcome. But what about the two minority owned and operated shops in the storefronts on the Warren Street side of the building? Their rents were going up, too, reportedly beyond what the business owners can afford. And what about the residential tenants in the buildings owned by Galvan Housing Resources?
Galvan special adviser Rick Scalera justified raising the rent on the commercial spaces in the building at Warren and South Second streets by saying it was the only way to keep the apartment rents low, but it seems Galvan Housing Resources may be raising residential rents in some of its other buildings. (According to a statement made by T. Eric Galloway and quoted in Register-Star, Galvan Housing Resources has "150 affordable housing units.") A comment made on this blog claims that the rent on an apartment in a building owned by Galvan Housing Resources on North Third Street is going from $200 a month to $900 a month. Granted, $200 a month seems like a ridiculously low rent, but, if this is true, how many people could afford a rent increase that is four and a half times what they are currently paying?
Housing Resources has had a history of fiscal woes. An audit conducted in 2007 by NeighborWorks America, the organization that chartered Housing Resources in 1996, discovered "poor board oversight and accounting deficiencies." In 2009, Housing Resources owed the City of Hudson nearly $35,000 in unpaid water and sewer bills. In August 2010, when Kevin O'Neill was replaced as executive director by Stephanie Lane, who had been deputy executive director, Scalera, who has then mayor, told the Register-Star, "They owe years of water and sewer bills. They owe a large loan [to Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency] they haven't made payments on in a couple years." After five years and a shift of focus--from developing affordable housing to "housing counseling, asset management, affordable rental, home improvement, financial literacy, and home buyer education," Housing Resources, before merging with the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, is alleged to have been operating at an annual loss of $100,000, and Galvan put up $700,000 to bail them out.
Obviously something has to be done to keep Housing Resources solvent and sustainable. The organization provides valuable services to the residents of Hudson. But suddenly quadrupling rents, if indeed that is what is happening, seems not quite the right thing for a not-for-profit whose mission has always been to assist low to moderate-income residents with their housing needs and whose properties are listed as "Wholly Exempt" in the 2015 Final Tax Assessment Roll (see pages 417-419).
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