In an effort to establish the need for more public housing in Hudson, the HHA board presented data gathered from the agencies in Hudson now providing publicly subsidized housing. That data is presented on the chart below.
Mary Ann Gazzola suggested that among the 1,386 names on the waiting lists there might be duplicates and then asked, "Are we housing our people or filling a regional need?" Her question seemed reasonable enough. She was curious to know if the people on the waiting lists were already part of the community or were seeking to move to Hudson from somewhere else. Although she didn't say it in so many words, Gazzola seemed concerned about Hudson, a very small city with a very small tax base, assuming responsibility for a disportionate number of people needing publicly subsidized housing. Citing the city planning game SimCity, she talked about the need for balance in urban development, noting that, in the game, which mirrors reality, overbuilding in any area causes a crash.
Daniel Hubbell, mixed finance development legal counsel for the project, honed in on Gazzola's use of the phrase "our people" and delivered a lecture on how, in the United States, people have the constitutional right to live where they want to live and spoke of putting constitutional protections at risk. He told Gazzola, "I don't find value in discussing 'our people.'"
Mark Morgan-Perez quoted from the HUD website regarding waiting lists, which supported the idea that there could be a preference for people who are already residing in the community:
Since the demand for housing assistance often exceeds the limited resources available to HUD and the local HAs [housing authorities], long waiting periods are common. In fact, an HA may close its waiting list when there are more families on the list than can be assisted in the near future.
Each HA has the discretion to establish preferences to reflect the needs in its own community. These preferences will be included in the HAs written policy manual.Hubbell then conceded that "the board has heard the concerns and is rethinking the scope of the project."
When Don Moore asked about the process going forward, Hubbell said that the environmental studies had not yet been completed. He said that borings had been done on the north side of State Street--the site of the proposed new buildings--as well as at Bliss Towers. "The hope is still to renovate Bliss Towers," Hubbell explained, but they are "waiting for the environmental reports to come back." He also acknowledged that environmental tests were not the only reason the project has been suspended.
Just before the board went into executive session "to discuss Master Development Agreement (MDA and related development project matters," Common Council president Tom DePietro presented to the HHA board a list of eighty-seven properties owned by the City of Hudson. The list was presented in response to board chair Alan Weaver's challenges in the past that if the City didn't want more subsidized housing concentrated in the Second Ward, where HHA already owns property, it should donate alternative sites to HHA. What DePietro gave the board was the complete list of City-owned properties from the tax rolls, a list that includes city buildings and facilities and public parks but not very many viable building sites. DePietro encouraged the board to explore the entire list and added, "If HDC decides to plat the Kaz site, one of those [lots] could be available."
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