Saturday, August 14, 2010

325-327 State Street

An anonymous reader left the following comment on this morning's report about Don Pollack arriving safely in Washington yesterday. Since the comment has absolutely nothing to do with that post, and since I felt it required a response, I decided to use it as the starting point for a new post. What follows is the comment exactly as I received it; after that is my response to it.
Carole - This post is NOT about this item, but might be of interest to you and those who care about Hudson.

It looked to me this morning that the double building on the 300 block of State Street, righ tup the street from SUPERVISOR HUGHES' mother's house was being cleaned out.

The only interested party in that particular building has been Kevin O'Neill of Housing Resources.

Given the fact that the mayor admitted that HRCC still owes for VERY delinquent water and sewer bills, (Check it out Carole, we're talking half a dozen years.) at a time when EVERY OTHER RESPONSIBLE landlord is required to either pay their water and sewer bils on time or pay additional fees; while the mayor admitted (Notice how quiet Peter Markou, of HCDPA and HDC was on this subject.) that HRCC STILL owes (Again check it out Carole, it might be that same half half dozen years.)HDCPA and/or HDC loan repayment monies; that the mayor appartently never discussed with the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal the requirement that either O'Neill exit, right, or the agency be shut down; it would boggle the mind to think that the mayor and the counsel would let HRCC NEAR another piece of property that won't be properly maintained.

The mayor knows all of this, as does Supervisor Hughes, COuncilmen Goetz and Donahue.

THe question becomes, why do all of these guys let Kevin O'Neill continue to misappropriate taxpayer money?
This comment seems longer on indignation than information, but on the assumption that other Gossips readers might be curious about this building, I'll share what I know about it.

The building, 325-327 State Street, is now owned by Housing Resources of Columbia County and has been for almost a year. Several years ago, it was seized by the City for nonpayment of taxes, and until last year, it was one of several properties owned by Good Samaritan Housing and Land Corporation that were the subject of protracted litigation. Back in 2006, the PARC Foundation wanted to acquire the building. It was an element in the PARC Foundation's 2 + 4 Project--a project that was shelved in 2008. In 2006, Kevin O'Neill, executive director of Housing Resources, also expressed interest in acquiring the building.

In 2009, 325-327 State Street was offered at a tax auction, but no one bid on it. Some said at the time that potential bidders didn't realize it was one of the properties being auctioned. Shortly after the auction, there were reports that Eleanor Ambos, owner of the Pocketbook Factory, the Allen Street School, and the former Elks Club at 601 Union Street, had offered to buy the house but for some reason had withdrawn her offer. At a special meeting on September 21, 2009, the Common Council authorized the sale of the property to Housing Resources for $33,603 and the payment of $4,370 in legal fees. Gossips has learned from someone on the Board of Housing Resources that the plan is to rehab the building and sell it to qualified home buyers, much as was done with the houses constructed on the 300 block of Columbia Street and on North Second Street by Housing Resources as part of the Hudson Homestead Program.

In 2009, it became known that Housing Resources had not paid its water and sewer bills for nine properties in Hudson since May 31, 2007. At that time, slightly more than $34,000 was owed the City. For most property owners, any amount due for water and sewer at the end of a calendar year is added to the next year's property tax bill, but since Housing Resources is a not-for-profit and its properties are not taxed, the City couldn't do this. So on July 21, 2009, the Common Council voted to levy a lien on all properties owned by Housing Resources to recover the $34,000.

A week or so ago, the Register-Star reported that Kevin O'Neill had been replaced as executive director of Housing Resources of Columbia County, a job he had held since 1994. According to the new executive director, Stephanie Lane, the organization intends to shift its focus from affordable housing development to housing counseling, asset management, affordable rental, home improvement, financial literacy, and home buyer education.


  1. Yet another agency that is 'not-for-profit' so it is excluded from paying real estate taxes ? This has got to stop! No wonder so few of us are supporting this towns budget. It's bigger than dysfunctional tax assessors putting us through the gauntlet!

    The jokes on us !

  2. Everyone on the council including the mayor knows the agency owes money for water and sewer bills as the paper had this in numerous times. But the paper also said that state street house was to be renovated by monies granted the agency and then sold to families that qualify. ONeil is or will be gone soon and the new director will be resposible for the project so why not give her a chance to do it and erase the ONeil stigma attached to everything Housing Resources does. I do remember nobody else wanted that building too and when completed the council should mandate it be on the tax roles but I belive I read that too. The anonymous poster that previously posted should ask the coucil and mayor if the above is still the plan I guess.

  3. Good Morning Carol -

    Thank you for the story about the state street building.It was good reporting. I think maybe anonymous is indignant because as a landlord myself I am required to pay my water and sewer bills on time or risk penalites attached. There seem to be special ruels for special people here. Does the high rise/nliss towers have to pay their city bills on time? And Mr. Gellert and crossroads by the high school? The most intriguing part of that post was about the state threatening to close Housing resources if he O'Neil didn;t leave. Can you confirm that Carol? When I first moved to Hudson there were three newspapers it seems to me and one of them did a big story about him and the agency and it seemed bad enough then that the mayor should have done something. Thank you Carol.

  4. Housing Resources is governed by a board and overseen by the state and federal agencies that fund them. The city and the mayor do not have any say here, and that was what the council, treasurer and mayor was faced with. So should the city take legal action on HR and end up landlords, I'm confused with what this is about other than someone's personal vendetta with O'Neil who is no longer in the picture.

  5. To Anonymous (who commented at 1:06 pm): There's no evidence that any late fees or penalties were waived for Housing Resouces, although you have to wonder why the situation was allowed to continue for so long before it was brought to the attention of city government.

    I'm not inclined to try to investigate the circumstances surrounding Kevin O'Neill's departure. My concern is more with what Housing Resources does in the community going forward: how they treat the property they are rehabbing, and how they maintain the properties they own.

  6. To the poster who used the term personal vendetta, from what I read other posters on this site were saying that it was less a personal vendetta and more about questions about when the mayor knew what he knew and when. It seems the mayor and O'neil were working for about the same time periods. In a small place like Hudson it seems the mayor could have regularly worked at collecting back water and sewer monies instead of continually rewarding a poorly managed not for profit. If everyone is upset about government waste and fraud, how is this a personal vendetta? Isn't it about taxes and the mayor's failure to collect monies owed a cash strapped city?

  7. Tell you what. If the person that posted originally to Carole about that agency and that particular property state their name for all of us to see, somehow I have a feeling the story will be told. Otherwise all these slanted positions on the mayor and oneil is just political blah blah.

  8. Tell you WHAT Mayor Scalera - instead of requesting all of hte OTHER Posters to reveal themselves, why don't YOU sign your posts? And as to political blah blah, it seems that this HRCC issue is more about wasted tax payer monies knowingly being wasted. Can the City, or the State for that matter afford even a dollar to be wasted? Isn;t that the biggest debate going on in Albany and Washihngton - how to BEST spend taxpayer money?