Two months ago, the Columbia County Board of Supervisors Human Services Committee approved a resolution authorizing Paul Mossman, commissioner for social services, to enter into a lease agreement with the Galvan Initiatives Foundation for a 37-unit facility at the corner of State and Seventh streets. A month later, that resolution was tabled by the Finance Committee at a meeting attended by about 40 Hudson residents and city officials. Now, with the number of homeless singles in Columbia County down to only 14, the committee that was ready to commit to spending $610,000 to $649,493 a year for "Galvan Quarters," is rethinking its plans. Nathan Mayberg has a summary of the situation in today's Register-Star: "Homeless population drops sharply."
Gossips has a few things to add to Mayberg's account of Wednesday's meeting of the Human Services Committee.
Supervisor Bill Hughes (Hudson Fourth Ward), who remains tenaciously committed to working with the Galvan Initiatives Foundation to solve the homeless problem, reported that he and committee chair Betty Young (Taghkanic) had met with Galvan, "while Mossman was on vacation," to discuss downsizing the proposal. He intimated that there was a new proposal that "dramatically reduced" the size of the facility but declined to reveal how many units were involved or any other specifics.
Several suggestions were made for ways to avoid ending up with, as Supervisor Art Bassin (Ancram) described it, "a fixed cost facility where only part of it is being used." (At $610,000 a year, the cost of housing only 14 people there would be $43,571 per person--more than the median household income in Columbia County.) Some of the possibilities mentioned were charging back for unused rooms, renting out units as affordable apartments, using the proposed Tier 1 units as "hotel style" housing. Supervisor Ellen Thurston (Hudson Third Ward) suggested that instead of one large facility, two or three smaller 10-unit facilities might provide the kind of flexibility needed to respond to homeless numbers that keep changing. In response to this idea, Hughes pointed out that, since Hudson zoning limits the area where such facilities can be located, it was unlikely that three sites could be found. It seems strange that a Hudson supervisor would automatically assume that all the facilities had to be located in Hudson until it is recalled that the Galvan Foundation has made it known that they will only work in Hudson. Another apparent drawback for spreading people out is the Mental Health Association's estimate that it would cost $25,000 per person per year to provide the kinds of "wrap-around" services the County is hoping to provide if the recipients of those services are not all in one place.
The conclusion reached by the committee's discussion seemed to be that Mossman would "look if there is another smaller scale approach." Presumably this means more discussion with Galvan. There was no mention of scheduling a public meeting for Hudson residents to share their ideas about how the problem should be addressed in our community.