On Thursday, Affordable Housing Hudson (AHH) held its second forum. Dan Udell was there, videotaping the meeting, and Gossips will make it known when that video is available. Meanwhile, we'll recount some of the highlights of the forum, which involved Brenda Adams from Habitat for Humanity, Jason O'Toole from the Galvan Foundation, and Anthony Laulette from the Hudson Housing Authority as panelists, and Peter Meyer as moderator.
Much of what Gossips found noteworthy in the forum was offered by O'Toole, the director of property management for the Galvan Foundation. In his opening remarks, O'Toole he said, "The Galvan Foundation has been here since 2004." He must have meant that Eric Galloway and Henry van Ameringen, using various LLCs, have been acquiring property in Hudson since 2004, because the Galvan Foundation wasn't organized until 2011. He also said the Galvan Foundation provided 186 units of affordable housing. In that, he must have been talking about Galvan Housing Resources not the Galvan Foundation, or perhaps he was conflating the two. O'Toole also announced Galvan's commitment to creating 20 to 25 new units of affordable housing in the next three years, for families with incomes from 50 to 80 percent of the area median income (AMI), which for Columbia County is $74,900. Having announced that commitment, he called for "a commitment from the City of Hudson to have a consistent PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program for nonprofit organizations who are providing affordable housing."
At some point in the discussion, Meyer raised the issue of warehousing properties. Galvan and its associated entities now own about 70 properties in Hudson, many of which are vacant. O'Toole began his response by commenting, "We've heard this." He then explained, "Galvan deliberately bought houses to make sure they would be developed as affordable housing and weren't bought by other investors who had other plans." The irony is that many of the buildings acquired have been standing vacant now for a decade or more, providing housing for no one.
A bit later in the meeting, Cedric Fulton, director of community engagement for SBK Social Justice Center, seemed to suggest that O'Toole's statement was disingenuous when who spoke of people he knew who were "forced to move because Galvan bought the house where they were living."
At some point in a discussion about the reasons for the shortage of affordable housing, the subject of Airbnbs came up. Kaya Weidman, executive director Kite's Nest, spoke of houses being turned into high-end Airbnbs. "Nobody should be getting rich off of housing," she declared. She suggested that Hudson's lodging tax should not go toward marketing the city for tourism but should be invested in affordable housing.
The Airbnb phenomenon introduced, it was announced that the next AHH forum would be devoted to the issue of Airbnbs and the impact of short-term rentals on the affordable housing market.
Update: An audiorecording of the forum can now be heard at the WGXC website.
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