Bill Hughes' "Town Hall Talks" event last night was videotaped by Dan Udell, and Gossips will provide the link to that video as soon as it's available. In the meantime, this report will focus on what Hughes told the audience, in the last half hour of a two-hour meeting, about what's being done at the county level to address the issue of affordable housing, with, as he indicated, an emphasis on "low-income housing and homeless housing."
Hughes reported that the housing study commissioned by the Columbia County Department of Social Services (or maybe it was the Board of Supervisors Health & Human Services Committee, it wasn't clear) had been completed and was now "in the hands of the supervisors and the mayor" for review. Hughes didn't indicate who had done the study, but Gossips has since learned it was a firm called Novogradac & Company LLP, based in Austin, Texas. Hughes mentioned, in the context of talking about the study, KCG, which presumably is KCG Development, a developer of affordable/workforce/senior housing based in Carmel, Indiana. KCG may be a developer Hughes considers a possibility for building whatever housing project is being conceptualized.
Hughes spoke of $2 billion earmarked for housing that was available though NYS Homes and Community Renewal and asserted, "DRI [Downtown Revitalization Initiative] winners, if they can put together good site plans, have a good chance to access that money." He spoke of the proposed DRI projects and affordable housing as "parallel tracks" and spoke of using "the leverage of the DRI to apply for some of the $2 billion." Hughes suggested that Governor Andrew Cuomo has a special fondness for Hudson, saying he "looks at Hudson" and alleging that the governor "sneaks into Hudson and stays at the hotels."
Hughes indicated that the next round of funding from the $2 billion was in December--just three months from now--and expressed the hope that a plan might be ready in time to apply but acknowledged that might not be possible. He also announced that the County was "in the RFP [request for proposal] stage of homeless housing," but he did not indicate where the homeless housing might be located. He spoke of 24-hour security and 24-hour counseling and getting "people ready to move into affordable housing," all of which was reminiscent of the three-tier plan proposed at the county level five years ago, at the center of which were two buildings owned by the Galvan Foundation at State and Seventh streets.
A comment from an audience member expressed the frustration many feel when the conversation is about affordable housing: "[The term] affordable housing makes no sense unless you indicate the income for which it is affordable." It was pretty clear from what Hughes was saying that when he said "affordable housing" he meant low-income housing and homeless housing, a term being used apparently without realizing what a bitter oxymoron it is.
On the subject of affordable housing, Gossips learned last week from Sheena Salvino, executive director of HCDPA (Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency) as well as HDC (Hudson Development Corporation), that a volunteer is putting together "a list of vacant land owned by the City and HCDPA so we can map and visualize this land." She also said that "Patterns for Progress has come aboard with HCDPA to help with a housing visioning process." On September 14, Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress is hosting a forum entitled Housing in Urban Centers: What It All Means in New Windsor. A pre-conference overview, which outlines "the significance of housing and urban revitalization in the Hudson Valley," can be viewed here. Salvino told Gossips that Darren Scott, Upstate East Director of Development at NYS Homes and Community Renewal, "is prepared to help us tie the larger housing projects that come out of the visioning process to their funding streams and work into DRI."
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