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Hudson school officials seem reluctant to help with affordable housing issue

Sep 26, 2023 12:59 am

Jammel Cutler reports for Columbia-Greene Media that the Hudson School Board seems reluctant to help the city of Hudson create new affordable housing. The Hudson Valley, and the entire state, are in an affordable housing crisis. Hudson officials hope to build a 60-unit apartment complex on vacant land on Mill Street across from Charles Williams Park. In 1983 the school board gave the land to the city, but included a restriction that the property be used for "park and recreational purposes only" and that any other use would revert ownership of the property to the school district. Now school officials seem reluctant to void that restriction to allow for affordable housing. A statement from the board released Sept. 25 said, “The board of education cannot simply OK a city request, and the board and/or the city cannot simply withdraw or ignore the ‘park and recreational purposes’ clause. That restriction in the 1983 deed must be legally addressed before a housing plan can move forward.” The board said in its statement that it does not consider affordable housing a "public benefit." Mayor Kamal Johnson's office then released its own statement, challenging the board's statement that the city has not provided its plan, saying they have been trying to talk with school officials for months. “This particular sale is for the purpose of developing affordable housing, which existing case law successfully argues can be considered a public benefit,” the mayor’s office said. “The housing project at Mill Street plans to have rental prices set at affordable rates ranging from 30 percent to 110 percent of the area median income." The school district also implied that new housing would mean new students that the school could not handle. Johnson's statement addressed this issue saying, “Hudson City School District enrollment has decreased over 10 percent between 2017 and 2021, and 33 percent since 1997. This pattern of decreased enrollment is increasingly common in rural parts of the Hudson Valley due to the trend of fewer births and outmigration due to the rising cost of living. The district lost funding in recent years because local demographics have changed. The city of Hudson hopes to prevent further drops in enrollment by providing housing for families.” At the Sept. 12 board of education meeting, Johnson said, “I don’t have to remind the school district about the city’s problems with housing at the moment.... Housing is an immediate need; it’s the reason we can’t find any teachers, especially those of color, and the reason we can’t fill positions in all our services, including our hospitals.” Read more about this story at HudsonValley360.com.

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