News Release

 

For More Information:

William R. Steinhaus
Dutchess County Executive
(845) 486-2000
countyexec@co.dutchess.ny.us

For Immediate Release

December 18, 2002

Steinhaus Directs $755,000 for Housing in the City of Poughkeepsie
86 Units to be Created

 

Poughkeepsie… County Executive William R. Steinhaus has released community and housing development monies for three housing projects in the City of Poughkeepsie who will receive a total of $755,000 in funding from the County HOME Investment Partnership.  The projects are part of the County Executive’s “Main Street Housing Initiative” he announced this past February in the 2002 State of the County Address.  Upon completion these projects will create 86 new housing units on Main Street and the rehabilitation of an additional building on Mill Street.   

Pennrose/Duvernay Main Street 

The first project planned for funding under the County Executive’s initiative is $370,000 to the 400 Block Project proposed by Pennrose/Duvernay + Brooks.  This project will involve the construction of 56 rental units in three, 4-story buildings and 5-9,000 square feet of ground floor retail/commercial space.  The project is located on vacant land at 417-451 Main Street and will contain a mixture of one, two and three bedroom units with all units being affordable to household at 50-60% of the County’s median income.  It is expected construction will begin in late 2003 with project completion scheduled for late 2004. 

According to the County Executive, “I am pleased the county has been involved in this project since its inception.  The County, through the Department of Planning and Development, was contacted by Pennrose/Duvernay + Brooks in March 2002 regarding development opportunities in Dutchess County.  “I was pleased to host the developers for a meeting in my office, and asked our staff from our Department of Planning and Development to give them a tour of potential City projects, including the 400 Block.”  Pennrose/Duvernay expressed interest in the 400 Block project, so our county staff then introduced Pennrose/Duveray + Brooks to the City’s Development Director.  “Our funding of this project is the next step in my commitment to this project and the revitalization of the City of Poughkeepsie,” said Steinhaus.  “We feel positive that Poughkeepsie’s Main Street has the potential to become a center of renewal.” 

Main Street Behrends Project 

Steinhaus intends $314,000 for the rehabilitation of 382-394 Main Street.  This project, being completed by Jon Behrends, involves the rehabilitation of eight adjacent buildings into 30 residential units and 8 commercial spaces.  The project will contain both one and two bedroom units.  Four of the units will be HOME assisted.  The project will begin construction in early 2003 and will be completed by the end of the year.  “Mr. Behrends has been a catalyst in the resurgence of interest in the redevelopment of the City.  His vision and commitment to rehabilitation in the City, and specifically Main Street, have helped others see the potential on Main Street and make similar commitments.  I am pleased I am able to support his ambitious project from the county level,” said Steinhaus.

Hudson River Housing 

The final project proposed is $71,000 towards Hudson River Housing’s efforts to revitalize 291 Mill Street, a historic boarded up building on the corner of Mill and Garden Streets.  The first two floors of the building will contain office space with a single residential unit  on the third floor.  The County’s HOME funds will go toward the creation of the residential unit with private financing supporting the development of the office space.  The unit will be affordable to households at or below 50% of the median income.

“The issue of adequate housing inventory is critical to maintaining our workforce and especially to insuring that our young adult workforce can afford to live in Dutchess County by being able to access housing that is affordable to their budget.  Our continuing relentless efforts to the revitalization of our two urban centers in Poughkeepsie and Beacon offer tremendous opportunity to meet these important goals,” said County Executive Steinhaus. 

The County Plan is currently available for a 30-day comment period, which ends on January 8, 2003.  The Plan will be sent to HUD on January 15 for a 45-day review period.  The County’s recommendations will become final on March 1, 2003.   

An excerpt from William R. Steinhaus 2002 State of the County Address

February 6, 2002  

Last year, I established a Smart Growth Housing Task Force to explore our capacity to help shape the supply of a diversity of housing options within Dutchess County.  Their report draft, submitted late last year, illustrates the severity of the problem.  The median price of a single-family home was $207,500 in December 2000 and new housing was considerably more expensive.  Renter households must contend with average rent increases of 8 to 9% because the vacancy rate was practically non-existent (1.5% in 2000).  

Much of the cause of skyrocketing housing prices, in both the rental and home- ownership markets, relates to the availability of land and the fact that it is controlled by a municipality’s zoning ordinance.  In Dutchess County, there are 30 municipalities and 29 different zoning ordinances.  If a town’s zoning ordinance does not zone any land for apartments or smaller, affordable lots, housing diversity cannot be achieved, even if there are private developers interested in creating such housing.  Regrettably, a review of Dutchess County zoning ordinances by the Department of Planning and Development has shown there is little land currently available for moderate and entry-level housing opportunities, and in some communities, there are none.  Municipalities can form Housing Committees to investigate the housing market and needs of their residents.  They can use this information to support adjustment of their zoning ordinance and to encourage private developers to include a small number of affordable units in many housing developments.  Many years ago, the Town of Pawling addressed head on the need for moderately priced housing.  As a result, they made an innovative change to their zoning, which requires that affordable units be a part of any significant housing project being proposed.  Fellow towns in Dutchess County could look to the Pawling example of visionary leadership on this issue. 

To help with this process in 2002, I have asked our staff to develop technical memorandum to give municipalities guidance on how to make changes to their zoning ordinances to permit a wider variety of housing choice.  Municipalities can use the County’s Partnership for Manageable Growth for matching grants to undertake reviews of zoning ordinances, master plans and subdivision regulations or develop Generic Environmental Impact Statements for developments of apartments or homes on small lots.  

The availability of water and/or sewer is integral to the development of multi-family housing or homes on small lots and as such, the County encourages municipalities to access the County’s Partnership for Manageable Growth for help in developing these services.  This program will help municipalities bring such services to a site by providing matching grants for pre-construction/feasibility studies and construction projects.  

We will also be involved with several initiatives to encourage the development of a wider variety of housing choices throughout Dutchess County.  In 2002, I have directed that the County review all County-owned properties for their potential use for affordable housing prior to their being made available at public auctions.  I believe properties that have potential for small-lot homes or multi-family housing should be offered to local non-profit housing developers or private developers with restrictions that the housing developed on the land address the housing needs of low and moderate-income residents.  

In addition to the Technical Memorandum, for 2002 I have asked Planning to increase its educational efforts and technical assistance as it relates to housing.  Specifically, the staff will survey the housing needs of Dutchess County residents and develop a statistical tracking for all segments of the housing market, which will help municipalities and public and private developers in their efforts to create more housing options.  I am also pleased to announce the County will develop a housing section on its website to help residents and developers understand the housing market and the options that are available both for finding appropriate housing and developing appropriate housing.  

To assist in providing suitable housing for all income groups remains a most important challenge for all local officials.  None of us can or should expect the problem to be solved by someone else.  Each of our towns, villages and cities grew up with a capacity to embrace the needs of a wide variety of people.  Our community has always thrived because of its diversity.  Cost conscious, smaller, no-frill, least-cost, or multi-family housing need not be unattractive, either socially or physically.  

Our 30 localities need to look at their local codes and review practices to see that opportunities exist for young and old alike to make an appropriate housing choice.  Our local economy and the social fabric of our community depend upon an inclusive attitude, one that encourages two-worker, moderate-wage households as well as our own children just starting out, to enjoy the advantages of living in Dutchess County, just as higher-wage earners who are moving up from counties to our south.  We stand ready to partner with our localities in these efforts.  

I am encouraged by the possibilities for a diversified housing stock when contemplating the potential for development at the former Hudson River Psychiatric Center site.  My staff and I have committed extensive effort to help promote the opportunities for that site as both a cornerstone of new housing availability and as an economic generator.  Also encouraging are activities of volunteers and public officials in northern Dutchess where we are working with Red Hook as it plans to clean up a brownfield site and eventually convert it to a 100 elderly housing units.  This project will result in an abandoned property back on the tax roles, turning a community liability into a wonderful asset.  

Or let’s contemplate additional housing in downtown Poughkeepsie.  Just two blocks of upper floor space and some infill building on Main Street between Market and Hamilton could yield about 250 residences.  The City has recently identified the potential possibilities for the newly reopened Main Street.  I am told 250 units represent a possible $10 million construction cost with another $10 million in secondary spending.  Planners estimate occupants of these units would have a combined annual purchasing power of $7.5 million, with a meaningful amount of that being spent in the immediate neighborhood.  

Diverse housing opportunities strengthen the economy for young people especially; downtown locations provide the interest and excitement they expect.  The City of Beacon has been reinventing itself very successfully through urban housing opportunities.  Other communities can have the same success if they pursue this vision.  

The Community Weed and Seed Program has worked with Poughkeepsie to establish an excellent vision for the heart of its main street.  When constructive activity begins on rehabilitation, we can foresee the actions that will follow.  College students, young professionals, trades workers, and seniors will look for establishments to patronize.  People who have lost the habit of visiting Poughkeepsie will have reason to return.  To demonstrate my conviction that Poughkeepsie’s new main street vision is achievable, I pledge up to $500,000 as a county inducement to other public and private investment that will provide upper-floor housing.  New residents will become attracted to Dutchess County because of its cities, not in spite of them.  

Local communities have joined in a community block grant program for nearly 20 years.  This has been a very successful cooperative venture resulting in scores of infrastructure, façade restoration, business loan, handicapped access, housing and economic development projects.  However, I am convinced the CDBG process can be improved.  The new Advisory Council to the County Executive is now considering program changes to allow worthy projects to receive concentrated funding to complete large community projects with a high priority need.  This and other changes will increase CDBG’s readiness to make significant changes at the local level.  

Last year the CDBG program provided $1,853,000 for municipal and non-profit agency use.  A quarter of the allocation was used for water and sewer improvements and 12% was allocated for sidewalk and road improvements.  

In the year 2001, the County of Dutchess submitted an application on behalf of the City of Beacon for $1.5 million in Section 108 Loan Guarantee funds as a result of an award of $600,000 in federal Economic Development Initiative monies as part of the Hudson River Partnership 2000, a multi-jurisdiction economic development initiative.  The County is in the process of working with potential Section 108 applicants and with the Economic Development Corporation in creating a Small Business Revolving Loan Fund to make use of these loan funds.  

Under our County HOME Investment Partnership Program, construction began on two significant projects in the City of Poughkeepsie, Harlow Row and Garden Street. These projects are essential to the revitalization of the City of Poughkeepsie.  Upon completion, efforts will have created seven homeownership opportunities, fifteen rental units and four commercial spaces.  

In the City of Beacon, construction was begun and completed on eleven townhouses that are now occupied by low and moderate-income first time homebuyers.  Also in Beacon, construction was completed on three buildings on Main Street containing 13 rental units.  In the Town of Hyde Park, 82 units of housing for senior citizens were completed with assistance from the County’s HOME Program.  

Eight households were assisted with the purchase of their first home through the County’s First Time Homebuyer Program.  Ten senior citizens were assisted through the Senior Citizen Owner-Occupied Property Rehabilitation Program and an additional nine senior citizen were assisted through the Christmas-in-April Program, to which the County provided a $35,000 grant.  

We also received $707,347 through HUD’s Supportive Housing Program for four programs to assist homeless persons throughout Dutchess County.  Rehabilitation Support Services, Inc. will receive $400,995 to provide permanent housing with case management, employment and vocational counseling for 10 persons who are homeless and seriously mentally ill.  I am pleased to announce Grace Smith House, Inc. will receive $33,629 to support three apartments at the Brookhaven Transitional Apartments occupied by homeless survivors of domestic violence. Hudson River Housing, Inc. will receive $109,974 for their River Haven Independent Living Program which helps older homeless youth develop skills, personal characteristics and the means to make the transition to successful independent living; and, the Mental Health Association of Dutchess County, Inc. will receive $167,749 to maintain their expended hours for the Living Room, a drop-in center that provides support and resources to the homeless with mental illness and those with mental illness and chemical abuse issues.

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2002 Press Releases