HUDSON — Board members of the city’s new housing trust fund held an inaugural meeting Wednesday to discuss and approve the fund’s purpose, appoint its board of directors and draft its operating code. ethics.
The purpose of the fund is to provide funds to preserve the existing affordable housing stock in Hudson as well as fund the creation of new affordable rental and homeownership housing in the city in accordance with the Strategic Action Plan for the city housing.
“As our founding document makes clear, we must explore all means to create and sustain varying levels of affordable housing in Hudson,” said Hudson Common Council President Thomas DePietro, who was named Treasurer on Wednesday. of the Housing Trust Fund. “The real challenge is to move projects forward as quickly and democratically as possible – a difficult goal that can sometimes seem contradictory.”
The Housing Trust Fund is under the aegis of the Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency. Part of the agency’s mission is to acquire parcels of land in the city and turn them into productive properties, i.e. properties that the agency can follow for the eventual creation of affordable housing. .
The agency owns several vacant lots across Hudson, some of which are for sale.
The resignation last month of the agency’s lawyer, Catherine Hedgeman, has put the agency in a difficult position. The agency is looking for a new lawyer and trying to find ways to make more money.
The Housing Trust Fund will pay administrative costs to the agency as it will most likely share similar administrative expenses, such as bookkeeping and possibly audit or legal fees. Hedgeman will serve as counsel for the Housing Trust Fund.
The agency was responsible for appointing the board of the Housing Trust Fund and it will approve the fund’s annual budget. The Board will operate autonomously to make its specific funding decisions independent of the agency.
The Housing Trust Fund has about $580,000 in start-up funds and about $20,000 allocated by the American Rescue Plan Act. This money does not represent an annual budget, but rather what the Fund needs to spend over the next few years.
It is up to the Housing Trust Fund Board to ensure more reliable funding streams so that it can generate a consistent revenue stream for budgeting purposes. But the fund’s administrative costs have the potential to take up a significant portion of the money.
Hudson Housing Justice Director Michelle Tullo led the meeting on Wednesday. She will act as the executive officer of the Hudson Housing Trust Fund.
“The advantage of a housing trust fund over other federal or state grants or programs is its flexibility. We can tailor trust fund projects to meet Hudson’s specific needs,” Tullo said. “Our hope is that this fund of money leverages other funding sources or programs to catalyze a significant improvement in Hudson’s affordability and livability.”
Members of the Housing Trust Fund elected Nick Zachos, now acting executive director of the Hudson Housing Authority, as chairman of the board. Zachos has expressed hesitation about becoming chairman, considering that a new executive director of the authority will be appointed in the coming months.
He said that once the new appointee assumes the role of full-time executive director, they should then have the authority to assume the role of chairman of the board. The fund’s vice president is Angellic Innamorato, the lead organizer for the Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition.
Former City Council member Rebecca Wolf has been appointed Board Secretary. His work securing the city’s anti-displacement grant in the spring of 2022 helped create the fund.
Other members of the fund’s board include Usha Berlin, a textile designer who owns a boutique on Warren Street. She has resided in Hudson since 1986; and Dustin Duncan, a Hudson resident since 2020 and associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University.
Initially, the Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency appointed the four members of the Board of Directors for the Housing Fund.
City Council passed a resolution in September 2020 to create the fund so the city can receive dedicated public funds to support different housing initiatives.
Tullo said the fund will seek more regular income streams.
Zachos suggested the fund hold its meetings before or after the monthly Hudson Housing Authority meeting. Tullo expressed initial concern that this would mean one of the meetings would come to a screeching halt. There is no information on the date of the next meeting of the Housing Trust Fund.