Thursday, December 31, 2020

Plans for Affordable Housing

It's not clear what the fate of the plan for 75 North Seventh Street is. That plan may have been abandoned, but the Galvan Foundation seems still to be pursuing its Depot District Initiative, but what that involves, beyond turning the historic Hudson Upper Depot into a brewery and acquiring the former Community Theatre to be the "gateway" to the district is not yet known. 

Meanwhile, there are other plans afoot for creating affordable housing in Hudson. Yesterday's special meeting of the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners was all about affordable housing.

The meeting began with mayor's aide Michael Chameides providing an update on the City's plans for affordable housing. Chameides talked about the Affordable Housing Development Plan, which is expected to identify four or five priority projects and strategize a timeline for moving them forward so they do not compete with each other for financing from NYS Homes and Community Renewal and other funding sources. 

In October, Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress was chosen to create the Affordable Housng Development Plan, for a fee of $30,000. Yesterday, Chameides reported that they were "finalizing the funding stream." The original scheme for paying for the plan was that agencies and organizations involved in affordable housing in Hudson would each contribute $5,000. To Gossips' knowledge, only Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) and Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) have committed $5,000. Chameides said that developing the plan would take six months, from start to finish, but it is not known when Pattern for Progress will begin its work.

Even before the Affordable Housing Development Plan is complete, the Hudson Housing Authority is beginning to craft its own plan for new housing. In 2018, HHA pursued a plan to construct two new buildings on State Street, just across the street from Bliss Towers. One of the buildings was to have 33 units; the other 40 units. 

The plan was abandoned in the summer of 2019, when it was discovered that the land on which the buildings were to be constructed could not sustain what was being proposed.

What is now being contemplated is building on another part of the site owned by HHA: the area of west of Bliss Towers, where Columbia Apartments, a.k.a "the low rises," are now located. (The plan involves demolishing the low rises.)

Board member Rebecca Borrer spoke of new construction that would extend from Columbia Street to State Street, with courtyard space and street-facing storefronts. She also spoke of building ten to fifteen townhouses on some other site, perhaps along the north side of State Street where the larger buildings were previously proposed.

There was some discussion about testing the soil to learn what the site was capable of sustaining before formulating a plan. Marie Balle, chair of the HHA board, mused, "What if we develop a plan, and we can't execute it, as happened with State Street?" She asked HHA executive director Tim Mattice how much it would cost to do a study to determine the land's capacity to sustain new construction. Mattice told her it would cost a lot and assured her that "developers factor in the possibility that a project won't work out." Balle replied, "We cant wait months and months to find out we can't do what we want."

Despite the uncertainty about the stability of the land, it was decided that the project goals would be laid out for presentation to the public at the next meeting of the HHA Board of Commissioners, to take place on Wednesday, January 13, at 6:00 p.m.


  1. Currently, many of the "affordable" housing units in Bliss Towers are uninhabitable due to long term lack of repair and maintenance. money had been allocated, but somehow it was not spent for any work.

    How about a new and novel approach to affordable housing ?

    Fix what you already own that exists but has not been taken care of or maintained. if you have empty apartments that are not occupied, clean them up.

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  3. Just assume all the land needs to be rehabilitated. Tear down Bliss, acquire more nearby land like 36-38 Second, the pitiful corner properties on State and 2nd and build properly --something which is quality and will not turn into another disaster like Bliss. Too many of those units are uninhabitable. Bliss was built on top of a junkyard which was not properly excavated. Isn't it common sense that anything that gets built needs to be properly excavated? Utilize as much space as possible for a comprehensive plan with affordable housing, green space, recreational space and inviting amenities. A larger well planned comprehensive project might actually attract investors, especially if it has economies of scale and good design.

    1. Excellent. I would only add to study other communities across the country, maybe even internationally, that have resolved these issues successfully. Ones that have tested time and are still at their best.

      As J Kay mentions, where is that allocated unspent money?

    2. There are apartments that are offline at Bliss Towers, but it is unfair to suggest that money has been unspent or misspent. HHA is still negotiating the loan that will enable those apartments to be refurbished.

    3. Carole --

      there have been problems on managing the HHA. The HHA was audited for a two year period. See below. there were problems.

      the bigger problem is that the HHA has to have a staff of accountants and real estate managers to manage a Housing Authority and the apartments. Big government costs big money.

      Where are the funds coming from for the larger developments of housing and the managers that are going to be fiscally responsible for this complex process ?

      We also know that after the audit above, the HHA experienced all sorts of other fiscal problems.

      we can go into extensive detail, but does that ameliorate the fact that currently many of the units in the building are uninhabitable ? Or that the units occupied have serious problems for those that live in them ??

      Managing real estate like this is way beyond the budget or know how of the 6000 citizens of the City of Hudson.

      Now people are saying they want even bigger buildings.

      Does this really make sense for this tiny City ?? It is not New York City, and NYC has its own problems with managing NYCHA now, being under partial federal supervision for delinquency with supplying tenants with heat, and letting them live in lead contaminated apartments.