HUDSON — The city of Hudson has received a $1 million grant from Enterprise Community Partners and the New York State Attorney General’s office to address city displacement.
The grant will go towards creating a housing trust fund, an emergency fund and an affordable housing plan.
The grant application was put together by a committee that attended workshops hosted by the New York State Anti-Displacement Learning Network and gathered feedback from locals at risk of displacement. Hudson is one of 10 cities participating in the network.
The committee consists of Mayoral Aide and County Supervisor Michael Chameides, Mayor Kamal Johnson, Minority Leader and 1st Ward Alderwoman Rebecca Wolff, 3rd Ward Alderman Calvin Lewis, Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood service provider Serria McGriff, Columbia County Sanctuary Movement Organizer Luisa Thillet and Galvan Foundation Vice President of Initiatives Dan Kent.
Of the $1 million, $567,053 will go towards a city Housing Trust Fund and $139,825 will go to an emergency fund for Hudson residents, according to the project budget.
A consultant will be hired with $15,000 of the grant to help form the trust fund and guide the city on how the trust fund can function. No commitments have been made for how the trust fund money will be used, but money from the fund could be set aside for a home ownership program for low-income people or landlords who rent affordable and mixed-income housing, Chameides said. The city intends to create a board to oversee the fund and find external sources to replenish the fund in the future.
The emergency fund will be supported by a partnership with St. Catherine’s Center for Children and Columbia County Department of Social Services. Emergency funds and opt-in case management will help residents at risk of immediate displacement who are not eligible for other housing assistance programs, for example if they live in market-rate housing or pay over 30% of their income for housing. In some cases, the program will help individuals become eligible for additional state and federal funds. The emergency rental relief program will be the most immediate goal for the funding as renters struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wolff said at the Common Council Meeting.
Emergency fund staff will not be full-time hires, with $16,443 allocated to an administrator’s salary, $6,365 allocated to a case manager’s salary and $4,716 allocated to a case manager supervisor’s salary. An additional $24,819 is allocated to emergency fund administrative costs. Fringe benefits for staff for the emergency fund were calculated based on St. Catherine’s benefits, totalling $5,780 also covered by the grant. Fringe benefits are costs that aren’t included in salaries, like health insurance, worker’s compensation and pension, Chameides said.
A housing justice director will be hired to expand outreach to people of color at risk of displacement, strengthen coordination between housing services in the city and help the city pursue its goals in addressing housing issues, according to the city website. The new employee will earn a $66,733 salary and $40,048 in fringe benefits, all covered by the grant. The benefits were calculated by formula from the treasurer’s office.
The position is separate from the city fair housing officer role Wolff and other council members have been advocating for, Wolff said.
“In terms of hiring, we’re going to be proceeding with a search as quickly as possible,” Wolff said of the director’s position.
A budget line in the grant for general administration, marketing and supplies is allocated at $10,176.
A housing justice manager temporary worker is allocated $2,292 and four outreach positions are allocated with two at $4,563 each and two allocated at $4,562 each.
The committee is still deciding how the outreach will happen, but is hoping to hire people who are at risk for displacement themselves who can make the information accessible through grassroots efforts, Chameides said.
“We know outreach is going to be really important for this grant,” he said.
The use of a $52,500 budget line dedicated to “learning sessions” is to be determined, Chameides said. Members of the grant committee will continue attending classes through the network about anti-displacement strategies that will inspire further plans.
The city has been planning on hiring the consulting firm Pattern for Progress to create an affordable-housing plan that reviews developable properties, funding options and development feasibility in Hudson. A resulting document will provide recommendations for creating affordable housing in Hudson. The Hudson Community and Development Planning Agency and Hudson Housing Authority each committed to donating $5,000 to the position, but the newly announced grant allocated money to fund the full $30,000 for the position. Whether the $10,000 committed will still go towards the position and $10,000 of the grant will be used in another way, or if the position will be fully funded by the grant, is an ongoing conversation, Chameides said.
The city wants to collaborate with affordable developers to create city-owned properties for affordable and mixed-income housing, according to the grant application.
“Hudson is a small city experiencing rapid changes, but some of our most detailed data sets are either out of date or are not granular enough to support targeting specific blocks and neighborhoods,” the committee wrote in their application.
Hudson is challenged by high property values and a scarcity of buildable land, according to the city’s application. Existing space is limited by outdated zoning rules.
Fourth Ward Alderman John Rosenthal and Wolff have been discussing an inclusionary zoning provision for the city, Rosenthal said at Monday’s Common Council meeting. They have been talking with 5th Ward Alderman Dominic Merante to create tax-code incentives for landlords to keep long-term rentals at affordable rates.
“We certainly think we can look within the city,” Rosenthal said, noting payment in lieu of taxes deals often go to outside developers.
The grant funds will be overseen by Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency, Wolff, who is on the agency’s board, said at the meeting. The agency’s mission is to serve low-income residents, she added.
“This program is a new idea,” Chameides said. “There’s no model for this program.”
Also, there’s COVID-19, he added.
A consultant from Enterprise Community Partners has helped the committee form the plan for their grant, Chameides said.
*Editor’s note: This story corrects an earlier version that misidentified 1st Ward Alderwoman Rebecca Wolff as representing the city’s 2nd Ward.