Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Future of HCDPA

Two years ago, when the Galvan Foundation wanted Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency (HCDPA) to make good on its pledge to contribute $100,000 to the senior center--a pledge made in 2012 when the plan was for the City to build a senior center which the City would then own and control--it was revealed that giving Galvan $100,000 would bankrupt the agency, which at that point had only $83,000 in its coffers. Earlier this week, at the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) meeting, Sheena Salvino, the executive director of both HDC and HCDPA, spoke about "HCDPA and its financial viability." Salvino suggested that, in the short term, the agency could continue to operate on grant funding and mentioned an RFP (request for proposal) for an "infill housing plan," which would "fill the gaps in the street wall," although she wasn't specific about which gaps in what street walls she had in mind. She also suggested that, in the mid term, the City might create its own Department of Planning and Development "that can develop its own projects."

The question of the viability of HCDPA and the mention of another project the agency is pursuing pretty much off the radar of everyone but the most devoted meeting goer (in February, Salvino told the audience at an affordable housing forum that HCDPA was moving ahead with a "pilot program" that would focus on the 100 and 200 blocks of State Street) inspired Gossips to put together some information about HCPDA.

HCDPA is a relic of the Urban Renewal era in Hudson. (The pictures above show Front Street in 1971, when Hudson's Urban Renewal Agency, which morphed into HCDPA, presided over the demolition of all the buildings on the west side of the street and the construction of what is now Hudson Terrace.) The HDC website,, includes information about HCDPA. (You'll find it in the drop-down menu under "Business.") Here's how the agency is described there: 
HCDPA was established as the City's Urban Renewal Agency. HCDPA is a corporate governmental agency, constituting a public benefit corporation. Although urban renewal agencies were initially created for the purposes of implementing the Federal Urban Renewal Program, many, such as HCDPA, have remained active and vital by aggressively initiating and managing a broad range of community development activities.
It seems questionable how "active and vital" HCDPA actually is today.

The agency has a five-member board made up almost exclusively of elected officials and mayoral appointees. Those currently serving on the board are Tiffany Martin Hamilton, mayor; Tiffany Garriga, Common Council majority leader; Abdus Miah, Common Council minority leader; Martin Martinez, chair of the Hudson Housing Authority board; Tom DePietro, chair of the Planning Board. According to the tax rolls, HCDPA owns twenty-four parcels in Hudson--all vacant land located primarily in the Second Ward. (See pages 420-423 of the tax rolls.) 

HCDPA isn't often in the news. Aside from the brouhaha in 2015 over the $100,000 HCDPA allegedly owed the Galvan Foundation for the senior center (the City of Hudson ended up giving Galvan $100,000 in local taxpayers' money), the last time HCDPA made news was in 2013 when the agency sold half of a parcel it owned at the corner of Second and Columbia streets, which had for twenty years been a community garden, to Habitat for Humanity so they could build two more of their passive single-family houses. 

Recently, a reader in an email to Gossips made reference to Hudson's "rather opaque, undemocratic 'planning' process." Perhaps phasing out HCDPA and creating a City Department of Planning and Development would bring more transparency. It might also make city planning more proactive and more inclusive--not only in the process but in its goals. A city planning department, presumably staffed by a professional city planner, would be able to look at Hudson's housing needs as a whole rather than having to focus, as HCDPA is apparently mandated to do by Hudson's nearly fifty-year-old urban renewal plan, on low-income housing concentrated in the Second Ward.


  1. Urban Renewal was a curse forced upon all our HRV cities under the guise of betterment in community planning.

    Put an end to it once and for all !

  2. Great reporting, Carole. The City desperately needs a Housing Commissioner. --peter meyer

  3. I did a quick survey of population trends in USA Today's Top Ten American Towns (Hudson was #8). With the exception of Bizbee AZ, a desert community, Hudson is the only town to see a drop in population...a wopping 20% since 1990 (the largest drop in the group). Without a housing plan, that downward trend will likely continue, leading to higher taxes per-capita, and or reduced services. We can't afford to put this off for much longer.

  4. Hudson desperately needs more housing, and more housing will help lower our ridiculously high taxes. I have been advocating for a long time for the rezoning of Columbia Street and our former industrial areas, for mixed use and allowing higher density in those areas. That might include allowing people to have an extra story on a building, in exchange for setting aside a percentage of the units for affordable housing. Or allowing for more lot coverage than is allowed now. Or encouraging more residential (and in some areas, commercial) in the alleys.

    It is very encouraging that many of the people running for office this year have housing at the top of their priorities list, as do I. The next term in Hudson's government holds great promise.

    Thanks to last year's Fair & Equal intitaive, there is a major shift about to happen and that will be a very good thing. Pay real attention to this year's primary election which takes place on Sept 12. Many of the races in Hudson, will be decided at the primary. A small number (also crucial) will go to the general election. This year it is not enough to vote on November 7th.

    Vote in the primary on September 12th and Vote November 7th.

  5. ... and the elephant in the room is the warehousing of approximately 70 (?) vacant historic buildings, many of which are 19th c apartment buildings ... there outta be a law !

    1. Agreed. That will become glaringly obvious when we develop a housing plan.

    2. Yes. A plan and someone to implement it; i.e. a housing commissioner.