Friday, September 11, 2015

Ear to the Ground

Two years ago, an active and flourishing community garden was divided in half so that Columbia County Habitat for Humanity could build two passive houses on the site. Now that those houses are built and occupied, Habitat for Humanity is, predictably, eyeing the rest of the site. Gossips has learned that Brenda Adams, executive director of Habitat, appeared before the board of HCDPA (Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency, which owns/owned the site of the twenty-year-old community garden) in August to initiate her appeal for the other three lots that once made up the garden--302, 304, 306 Columbia Street--in order to build three more of Habitat's signature passive houses.

The lack of affordable housing in Hudson has been an issue ever since 2002, when two Victorian town houses on Warren Street, which had been divided up into six apartments, were sold, gutted, and turned into state-of-the-art loft space, and one of the former tenants went to the press to complain about not being able to find a suitable new apartment in Hudson. Since then, the issue of affordable housing has been on and off the radar of city government. 

In the past decade, there have been various proposals to address the problem, but Housing Resources' Hudson Homesteads, Crosswinds, and the thirteen one-family houses Habitat has so far constructed in Hudson are the only projects that have actually been carried out. It would seem that, given a city whose built and buildable area is less than one square mile and with so many people wanting to live here and needing affordable housing, we should be looking for solutions that make better use of our limited land area than building new single-family houses. Perhaps what we should be encouraging and enabling are new three- and four-story apartment buildings, sensitively designed to be compatible with the city's historic architecture and constructed in the city's available vacant spaces.


  1. Carole, thank you for reminding us of this nasty predicament -- one that seems to not go away. A number of years ago, when Quintin Cross was a Common Council player (still in good standing) we had a fairly robust group looking at the low-income housing needs and opportunities in Hudson. We were making good progress until the credit card scandal; after which, the whole initiative disappeared. In it's place we have various interest groups chipping away at our small supply of vacant lots and diminishing supply of low-income housing.... And given the trajectory of this unregulated march forward, we will end up with a town of no more open spaces and no housing income diversity.... It's not too late to recupe the planning momentum that we started a decade ago.

  2. paradigm with no vision = stupid

  3. Destroying half the community garden to put up a ticky-tacky house should have been the wake-up call: with dozens of venerable old houses in disrepair and vacant space at a premium that was totally the wrong move. Habitat for Humanity, Hudson Homesteads, and city agencies should be taking care of those crumbling structures (and the people in them!) before wrecking community gardens or -- as Common Council president Don Moore suggested last year -- putting a low-income housing project on 30 acres of pristine land behind the high school! Doing nothing, as Vince suggests, is an anti-vision, which has its own rules -- and they're happening now. That's why this fall's election is so crucial to Hudson's future....

  4. Why solve a problem, let's just make it worse

    1. This whole thing on so many levels is a sore spot with me and a lot of residents.
      But,Jeffery Perry, your made comment me laugh. So true.
      In Latin it would make a good motto to carve into all the Municipal Fiasco's since the 60's to the present.

  5. From previous Gossips posts:

    1/7/14: Some wonder why an organization that calls itself Columbia County Habitat for Humanity is fulfilling its mission almost exclusively in Hudson. The organization, which was founded in Chatham in 1993, completed its first house in Chatham in 1997. Habitat has built one house in Copake but all the rest -- eleven new houses and two rehabs -- have all been in Hudson. The reason for this, [Executive Director] Adams told Gossips a couple of years ago, is that Hudson gives them land. ...

    "We have to come up with more space," said [Carmine] Pierro, "so Habitat can fulfill their mission."

    1/22/14: After the topic of the sale of half the community garden to Habitat for Humanity had been introduced, Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward) expressed the opinion that it was time for the Council to begin a conversation with Habitat for Humanity about being more "county-centric" rather than "city-centric," pointing out that the organization is Columbia County Habitat for Humanity not Hudson Habitat for Humanity.

    Moore was quick to say that he did not wish to chair such a discussion. (Moore's wife is a member of the Habitat staff.) Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) also declined to chair the discussion, although he said he was no longer on the Habitat board. Alderman Bart Delaney (Fifth Ward) also declined, saying that he, as minority leader, was on the HCDPA board. Finally, Marston volunteered to chair the discussion. Haddad went on to say that he thought Habitat needed to be "more reflective" going forward and should be urged to rehabilitate existing houses in Hudson rather than always building new. He reiterated his suggestion that the Council should "start a conversation with Habitat."

    Marston requested that a discussion with Habitat for Humanity be added to the Council agenda for February, and Moore agreed to do so.

  6. Before I moved to Hudson, I never thought I would write these words....Just Say No to Habitat for Humanity.