Thursday, August 2, 2012

A House of Cards

Some are fortunate enough to never need food stamps or ever worry about being homeless.  Unfortunately, there are others who have been dealt a different hand in life and for whatever reason, they need any and all help they can get.

This brings me to what has become a divisive debate amongst elected officials and soon to be public in the City of Hudson.  Columbia County has proposed to build, with the assistance of a private developer, (Galvan Initiatives) a 37 unit living facility targeting those who have fallen on hard times and has no other place to live.  The living facility  would provide counselling, meals, transportation, laundry, 24 hour security and a live in facility manager, along with other amenities.

Currently, Columbia County houses those in this condition, in Hotels through out the County for an average of $70 a day or in some cases $1,300 - $1,400 a month, which does not include food and transportation cost.  Not to mention, under the current conditions counselling and services are not offered to help these clients get back on their feet, giving them a second chance at life.

A second chance at life, it is to this point that I have been working diligently to increase The City of Hudson's low income and affordable housing stock.  To no direct fault of anyone specifically, Hudson's affordable housing stock has been dropping precipitously, leaving many unable to afford the new market rate for an apartment.  We also have a problem of those who are poor money managers or those coming back home after a stint in NYS prison system.  Whatever the reason, Hudson and well as other Towns in Columbia County have citizens who have found it impossible to find a place to live.  As mandated by NYS, if a citizen has been found and proven through an initial evaluation to be homeless, the County in which they live, must provide them with a place to live.  As a result of this law, Counties across NYS have been forced at great expense to find a dwelling for individuals proven to be homeless.  Speaking specifically to Columbia County, over the years, Columbia County has spent as much as $2 million a year addressing this problem.  To the County's credit, they have tried several times to come up with plans that would provide a better living environment for the County's homeless clients.  One that would also help to decrease the amount of money being spent to address the issue.

Recently the County's homeless numbers have dropped sharply, holding stead at around 25 single individuals.  In the past few months some aggressive tactics have been employed by the County to decrease its homeless numbers.  One of those tactics is, to convince individuals who are living in the hotels to partner up with another client, put their resources together and move in together, often in apartments that are barely at living standards or worse.  What's amazing to me is, that some elected officials and fellow human beings would find this method to be acceptable, for someone to live in substandard conditions, as long as we save a dollar and they are not living next to them.  What isn't mentioned is, that which I believe!  The number of homeless kept by the County is skewed, I believe the homeless in the City of Hudson and the County is higher than reported.  The County does not track those who are staying with friends or family until they can find an affordable apartment, which in most cases doesn't happen.

Most of us, who live in the lower half of the City of Hudson, know of families or friends who have people staying with them who are essentially homeless, if not for the generosity of those family or friends.  The problem with this particular arrangement is, most times, those families or friends are barely making ends meat themselves.

It is because of this reason that I stood up and fought, when some elected officials made mention that the City of Hudson shouldn't renew the tax credits to the Hudson Terrance project, which were needed to keep rents affordable.  That is why, I stood as a fighting voice to build, what is now known as "Crosswind", when other elected officials were balking at the project.  And that is why I am now leading the charge at the County level to  develop this facility, with the partnership of Galvan Initiatives.

This project has now come under fire, with citizens and a few elected officials saying "Hudson already has too many services located here, we don't need anymore".  I had a few citizens tell me, we should move them to Kinderhook or Chatham and bus them back and forth to the City of Hudson where the services are.  One thing I would like to note here is, I haven't had one person from the 2nd, 4th or 5th Ward's make these kinds of statements. 

It's my belief that some have been instructed to protest at the next full board meeting with signs, voicing their displeasure with having more housing "these people" in the City of Hudson.

I'm putting out there, if you support this project, you too should show up at the next Board of Supervisors full board meeting, which is to be held on:  August 8, 2012  at: 7:15pm.  Come and hear what some have to say about your friends and family members who are currently staying in hotels.

Again, come out to a very important meeting, being held, August 8, 2012  at: 7:15pm.  I will post or info you more about this meeting as the date gets closer.

Thank You!


Minority Leader
4th Ward Supervisor
William Hughes Jr.