HUDSON — Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton’s Housing Task Force met for the second time on Monday to discuss a strategy to tackle housing needs in the Friendly City.
For a blueprint, the task force will use a study contracted by the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, “A Housing Needs and Assessment of Columbia County.”
The 143-page document outlines goals and needs for the county as well as the barriers to those goals.
The task force plans to review best practices in other comparable cities and towns and come up with a strategy for development in lieu of the city receiving $10 million in state funds for downtown revitalization.
More than 100 housing units will be needed in Hudson – and 300 across the county over the next five years – to meet the current demands, Hamilton said.
According to the report, the housing stock in Hudson is at “poor to average condition.”
The city’s overall housing vacancy rate was 16.2 percent in 2015, “which suggests a level of disinvestment,” according to the study.
One of the barriers is a lack of newer multifamily rental housing.
Approximately 63.3 percent of the housing stock in the city of Hudson was built prior to 1939, “indicating that the housing stock is very old,” the report said. And despite the need for affordable housing, only 3.5 percent of Hudson’s residential structures have been constructed since 2005, according to the report.
But Hamilton cautioned against the city getting into the real estate business. “We as a city can’t make this happen,” Hamilton said. “We need to bring developers to the table.”
Much talked about in meetings in Hudson and across Columbia County is the need for affordable housing.
Hudson has a low median household income compared with the county and nationwide. The median household income in Hudson in 2017 is $36,262, compared with $58,428 countywide and $54,149 nationally.
“The average housing income is below $49,000, and I think we need to keep that in mind when we talk about what our goals are,” said Sheena Salvino, a member of the task force member and executive director of the Hudson Development Corporation.
F. Michael Tucker, president and CEO of the Columbia Economic Development Corporation, pointed out that, for many developers, it may not be worthwhile to construct smaller units considering the high cost of investment and construction without incentives from the city, state or federal governments.
One of the biggest hurdles in the housing crisis in Hudson is the amount of vacant properties in Hudson, according to some members of the task force. The Common Council is reviewing a law that would keep an active registry of vacant homes within the city.
In an initial search, Mark Morgan-Perez, of Argent Partners LLC, Real Estate & Affordable Housing Development, identified more than 96.5 acres within the city, at a value of more than $3 million, as vacant. But there is a possibility that some vacant properties aren’t on the list because of the language of what constitutes a vacant home under the current zoning laws, Morgan-Perez said.
During the meeting, several Task Force members expressed an interest in convening after the projects under the DRI are completed. They also hoped to continue after Hamilton is replaced by Mayor-elect Rick Rector.
Before the next meeting, task force members were asked to identify the top five recommendations that were needed to address housing concerns in Hudson.
To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.