Friday, September 1, 2017

Hughes on Housing

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."


  1. I'll be holding my breath, waiting for the Columbia County Supervisors to raise their hand and volunteer their community as a host for low-income and homeless housing...

  2. I'll be holding my breath waiting for GALVAN to be the alleged "solution."

  3. As longtime Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen once didn't say, "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money." And that was the entire US Congress! To think that Columbia county is dealing with the B word for public housing should cause some pause and make us consider the odd juxtaposition of hiring some Austin, TX, firm to do a ($50,000??) report and at the same time hiring a "volunteer [to put] together a list of vacant land owned by the City and HCDPA so we can map and visualize this land." One of the most important things learned at the Affordable House forum in May was how many cooks we have in the kitchen on this stuff. And guess what happens when you have too many cooks? The people don't eat well--or on time. Though I appreciate Billy's work on this, and Carole's terrific reporting, all I'm hearing is that somebody better get control of this hydra or we will continue to stumble from wasted effort to the next -- all at taxpayer expense (except for the anonymous unelected volunteer who will probably have more influence than anyone!)

  4. I would like to thank Carole for her coverage of my town hall talks. I would like to clarify a couple of things, Bill Teator lives in Saratoga, is from Greene County, so he knows the area. The other firms are different companies his firm works with to do different functions, from analysis, to development.

    As to me using the term, “affordable housing”, I definitely wasn’t implying low-income housing, to the contrary, I was being vague, because it won’t be my job to determine the need or level of rental housing, that will be the job of the hopefully formed housing committee and ultimately the City Council. If I confused anyone on that point it certainly wasn’t my intention. My goal was to highlight the County is committed to helping Hudson, as well as other towns in Columbia County tackle the issue of affordable housing. Some of what will determine level and need for certain types of housing is, where the housing gaps are and the AMI (area median income), along with other factors. The County’s study will highlight some of the need factors and help the decision makers in Hudson and other towns decide what type of affordable housing is needed in their community, definitely not me or any other individual, this needs to be a group effort with smart planning.

    As to the homeless, we are referring to any housing we hope to us in the near future as “supportive housing”, because that is exactly what our intentions are going to be, to help and support our homeless population get back on their feet. We intend to do that with various services which we are unable to provide onsite to our homeless population currently. Yes, we have been at this before, hopefully this time, with the support of “you” the people of Columbia County we can make this a reality and give our homeless population the services they need to get back on their feet again. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to answer Carole’s questions before she wrote this story but I was in meetings most of the day, if anyone has any questions regarding this topic that I can answer don’t hesitate to contact me: email: or call me: 518-858-4134

  5. For what shall it profit a city, if she gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of her soul?