HUDSON–The term “affordable housing” means different things to different people. Now the Galvan Foundation offers what it calls a “unique approach to housing affordability” that mixes people with varying income levels in buildings and in neighborhoods.
What the non-profit foundation plans will have an impact. The Galvan Foundation owns 86 buildings in Columbia County and operates 191 affordable housing units.
This type of housing is frequently associated with federal Section 8 vouchers, with which the government pays a portion of a qualified person’s rent. To be qualified a household must earn no more than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI), with preference given to households making under 30% of the AMI, according to Dale-Ann Brown, state program director for Section 8 Housing.
But the Galvan Foundation is developing units in Hudson for households making up to 90% of the AMI, according to Dan Kent, Galvan’s vice president of initiatives. And in contrast to some other landlords, Galvan “absolutely accept[s] Section 8,” Mr. Kent said.
Service provider Fawn Potash, a New York Connects specialist at the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley, says that many Galvan units are unaffordable for most of their clients.
Responding to that concern Mr. Kent said, “All housing that receives public finance is regulated by the New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR). All rents in such buildings must be approved by the HCR.” Only some Galvan residential buildings receive public financing, he added.
In addition to its 86 buildings and 191 units in the county, the foundation “provides programs offering funding and counseling to people struggling to stay in their home because of foreclosure, home repair costs, and other challenges,” according to a Galvan Foundation statement.
The foundation’s 86 buildings include:
• 62 occupied—both for residential and other purposes
• 20 “stabilized uninhabitable vacant buildings in pre-development”
• 4 buildings that together will hold 18 apartments “currently in development.”
Mr. Kent divided the residential properties into three categories: rent-regulated apartment houses that received “development financing”; market rate buildings that received no subsidies; and “buildings that received no subsidies but we rent them at affordable prices.”
The four buildings “in development” are part of a 10-building initiative in the third category, announced in the March 2018 statement.
These 10 buildings–all in Hudson–are to provide 29 apartments, each assigned to a specific income level, Mr. Kent said. Fifteen units will rent to households making 60% of the AMI, 7 to accommodate 80% of the AMI, and 7 to accommodate 90% of the AMI, according to the March statement.
Six of the 10 buildings (totaling 11 apartments) have been completed and rented, Mr. Kent reported. These include: a studio at $637/month; 2-bedroom units at $933/month; and 3-bedroom units at $1,026/month.
He said the foundation’s housing mixes incomes. “In the occupied buildings, people who pay on their own are mixed with those who use vouchers.”
Last March the initiative’s buildings, apartments geared toward different incomes will mix throughout the 10. “The subsidized renters are spread not only among non-subsidized renters but also among neighborhoods,” said Mr. Kent. The statement reports that research by the Economic Opportunity Project in 2016 “show[s] that children from low-income families raised in economically integrated neighborhoods are more likely to escape poverty.”
But the foundation has found that “economic segregation is rapidly worsening in Hudson. …North of Warren Street, the child poverty rate is 39%. South of Warren Street, the child poverty rate is only 10%.”
The 10 “initiative” buildings can help alleviate the situation, the March statement suggests, by virtue of their locations: five are south of Warren Street, two on Warren Street, and only three north of Warren.
The accompanying chart shows the 10 “initiative” buildings by status as of November.
Still, Galvan is perceived as “sitting on empty buildings,” said Ms. Potash in October. “The problem is that they’re the only game in town.”
Of the 20 buildings in “pre-development,” Mr. Kent spoke about structures in Hudson:
• Corner of 5th and Union streets, with four stories and a mansard roof, is “not under construction now, but will be rehabilitated for housing,” whose income mix has not been determined”
• Corner of 7th and State streets, where there are “no plans for rehabilitation as of yet.”
As for the fate of a prominent non-residential Galvan building, which held the Hudson Area Library until 2016, Mr. Kent said, “We’re developing the conceptual plan.” He classified it among the 62 occupied buildings because it is used for conferences.
In a related matter Mr. Kent said, “We’re shooting for the year end” to open that the Galvan Civic Motel in Greenport. The former motel that will have 25 rooms of temporary housing for people with no other home; there will also be offices for Department of Social Services to help people find permanent housing.
“We’re working on the septic system. We have all the permits we need,” he said.