Saturday, May 28, 2022

HHA "Pivots"

At the last meeting of the Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA), which took place this past Wednesday, Nick Zachos, interim director for Hudson Housing Authority, and Brian Lawlor, attorney for HHA, were present to make the case for HCDPA allowing HHA to include its properties in an RFP for new development. Zachos told the HCDPA board that the housing authority was "undergoing a pivot." Zachos said the plan to maintain Bliss Towers for another 10 to 20 years was not viable, and they were moving forward on looking for developers. Zachos then turned the floor over to Lawlor, the attorney. 

Lawlor talked about the severe shortage of affordable housing in Hudson and said, "The challenge extends beyond the Hudson Housing Authority." He called Bliss Towers, which was constructed in 1973, an "obsolete building" and claimed the amount of money and resources needed to maintain it is outside the realm of possibility. He reported that a "summit" convened to assess Bliss Towers had determined that the tower had to come down. He acknowledged what was discovered in 2019, after a plan had been explored to construct two new buildings across the street: the land there, owned by HHA, will not support 120 units. (That plan, developed in 2018, shown in the rendering below, also involved extensive renovation of Bliss Towers.)

Lawlor asserted that "in order to truly replace Bliss, we need additional sites." Those additional sites are the parcels owned by HCDPA. Lawlor spoke of a "comprehensive plan to address Bliss" which would "deconcentrate poverty" and "expand the supply of affordable housing" in Hudson. He stressed the "critical importance of having these sites as part of the plan."

There are four parcels owned by HCDPA that have been under discussion: 238 Columbia Street (a single building lot), 202-206 Columbia Street (what remains of the Community Garden), 2 to 12 State Street (land that has a steep drop-off), and 2-4 Warren Street (a vacant lot now used as a kind of park).

In March, Zachos talked about the need to "maximize every property around them" in order to carry out a relocation plan. At that time, 202-206 Columbia Street and 2 to 12 State Street seemed to be the parcels that were most desirable to HHA, and there was little interest in 2-4 Warren Street. On Wednesday, Revonda Smith, who chairs the HHA Board, declared, as she has many times before, that HHA wanted to include all the HCDPA parcels in the RFP and "let the developer decide which they want."

Lawlor, from the firm of Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, only recently became the attorney for the Hudson Housing Authority. The firm's website provides this information about him:
Brian Lawlor's practice focuses on affordable housing and housing finance to which he offers deep industry knowledge and contacts as well as firsthand government experience. He has advised and represented private developers, not for profit organizations, state and local governments across the nation. . . . Previously, Mr. Lawlor was the Commissioner/CEO of all New York State's housing agencies, collectively known as New York State Homes and Community Renewal. He successfully designed and led the initiative to consolidate all housing finance, development and regulatory agencies and policies under a single management structure in order to align resources and streamline the delivery of housing services and financing throughout the State.
At Wednesday's meeting, Lawlor spoke of the plan to deconcentrate and expand low-income housing in Hudson as a "collaboration of the Hudson Housing Authority, the Common Council, the mayor's office, and the State."


  1. did anyone point out to Mr Lawlor that the poor are already concentrated in Hudson and that deconcentrating them would be to build affordable housing in other municipalities in Columbia County ?

    Moving them from one street to another is not deconcentrating anyone.

  2. Jkay makes an excellent point: does Mr. Lawlor even live in Hudson? Columbia County? Of course not. Nor do most of those pushing these absurd and destructive plans. They are all part of the same poverty industry. I’m willing to bet Mr. Lawlor lives in a McMansion in a gated community in Saratoga county or an equally distant idyl where the “poor” are an abstraction.

  3. Part of the issue is the fact that Hudson is the county seat, thus we have a concentration of social service agencies in town. So people who need those services tend to be concentrated here.

    1. Yes, you are correct. the social services are here, and yes, it is a business for the County.

      Penning people up in subsidized housing is both a social model and a business model in America.

      Whether it is good for those families and their children is the question. Gun violence does happen in Hudson more than any other community in the county. There are more crimes.
      Urban social ills happen when you high high concentrations of the poor.

      You decide if it is bad, or good. I think the generations to come are trapped without access to the mainstream.