Hudson Roots makes impact felt in less than a month

The city flyer for the Hudson Roots program. Contributed photo

HUDSON — The Hudson Roots emergency housing assistance program has helped about 30 people and allocated $7,200 less than a month after launching.

The program was launched March 8 by the city and the Hudson Community and Development Planning Agency and is operated by St. Catherine’s Center for Children and Columbia County Department of Social Services. Staff and emergency funds for the program are supplied through part of a $1 million grant from Enterprise Community Partners and the New York State Attorney General’s office to address city displacement.

Hudson residents with an annual income at or below 80% of the area median income who are unable to access other assistance and are at risk of imminent displacement because of income loss, rent increases, building sale, utility debts or other expense increases are eligible for the program, according to the city website.

An emergency fund of $139,825 can help residents with back rent, first month’s rent, security deposits and rental subsidies who cannot receive support elsewhere. The program also provides case management and advocacy for residents to find affordable housing.

Hudson Roots staff have worked directly with 27 people since launching the program, and a few more have inquired about it and did not respond to staff, with whom they will follow up, Hudson Roots Supervisor Dave Healy Jr. said Monday.

The first applicant to receive funds is an individual who needed $460 for his first month’s rent and a $460 security deposit to move into Bliss Towers, 41 North 2nd St., Healy said. The individual received both payments totaling $920 from the fund and has moved into his apartment. Security deposits will go back to St. Catherine’s and in turn be put into Hudson Roots, if the program is still running when the deposit comes back.

Three households were approved Monday for a $400 rent subsidy each month for six months, totaling $7,200 more from the funds and leaving $131,705.

Hudson Roots staff help residents find other potential funding, such as from the Department of Social Services or Catholic Charities USA before reaching into the emergency fund, Healy said. Program staff also helps residents find affordable housing or opportunities to make more income to afford their current homes. The program only will find housing for Hudson residents in the city, so as not to displace them elsewhere.

In one situation, a family asked to leave their home by their landlord and did not know about the eviction moratorium and could not find local housing that fit their needs other than The Falls, 158 Union Turnpike, which are luxury apartments, Healy said.

Program staff intends to help the family, whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, to either find more income or find more affordable housing. Staff are educating residents on the eviction moratorium so they know their rights, Healy said. A federal eviction moratorium is in place until June 30, Healy said.

A Hudson resident owes almost $10,000 in rent, but the landlord cannot proceed with eviction or turn off utilities, Healy said.

The Hudson Roots program is also helping individuals in bad housing conditions, Healy said. In one case, a woman lives with bats in her attic and trash in the yard, and the program staff are calling the code department for her and will look for alternate housing in the city, Healy said.

Not quite a month into the program, Healy expects more cases to come.

“We haven’t seen every scenario yet, but I’m sure they are coming down the road,” he said.

While there is discussion about extending Hudson Roots’ life beyond its current funding, it has not been decided how the program will be sustained, Healy said.

The emergency fund staff are not full time hires, with $16,443 allocated to pay an administrator, $6,365 allocated to pay a case manager and $4,716 allocated to pay a case manager supervisor. An additional $24,819 is allocated to emergency program administrative costs. Fringe benefits for staff for the emergency fund were calculated based on St. Catherine’s benefits, totaling $5,780, also covered by the $1 million anti-displacement grant.

The balance of the $1 million grant is allocated to a $567,053 city housing trust fund, a consultant for the trust fund earning $15,000, a housing justice director who will earn $66,733 and $40,048 in benefits, a housing justice temporary worker earning $2,292 and four housing justice outreach positions, two earning $4,563 and two earning $4,562, an affordable housing consultant earning $30,000 and overall administrative costs, allocated $10,176, according to the grant budget.

A $52,500 budget line is dedicated to “learning sessions,” and the use is to be determined, according to Mayoral Aide Michael Chameides. Housing justice director applicants are being interviewed, Mayor Kamal Johnson said Monday.

Pattern for Progress, a nonprofit public policy, planning, advocacy and research organization, has been hired by the city as the affordable housing consultant to create an affordable housing development plan, according to a city press release Monday.

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