Housing, a timely topic

Housing, especially affordable housing, presents a real need in our region. To bridge the gap between what’s appropriate and what’s available, the North East Community Center (NECC) and Hudson River Housing, Inc., have been working together, first with a Community Conversation a couple of weeks ago, and now, with a follow up meeting of their Regional Leadership Team. The goal: to advance housing solutions in northeastern Dutchess County.

The Tuesday, April 30, meeting drew stakeholders from the town of North East and village of Millerton, the town of Amenia and the town of Pine Plains, along with representatives from NECC, Hudson River Housing and others. They assembled to discuss housing equity and sustainability. Their goal, according to an agreed upon mission statement, is “to promote and provide sufficient and adequate housing to meet the needs of all current and future residents of the region in an equitable and sustainable manner.”

A lofty goal that is, but the group has already taken steps in the right direction. By following up on that initial Community Conversation, it’s keeping the issue at the fore. It’s also coming up with workable ways to address housing shortages, and to problem solve so there are fewer such problems in the future. As housing is a basic human right, all of the players agreed that they must develop a comprehensive housing strategy.

One issue that arose last week was that of having a central sewer in Millerton/North East. Long seen as a deterrent to future development of both commercial and residential properties, the lack of a sewer is a major concern. Though the group tabled the discussion for now, it did say that it will revisit it in the future.

Developing workforce housing is another important issue that was raised. At the root of the issue, the need to take a regional approach was heralded. 

“The combination of three towns might have a louder voice that one town doing funding and writing grants,” said NECC Founder and Past President Sam Busselle. 

He’s right. There’s strength in numbers — and better access to resources that might come in handy when trying to come up with better and more realistic housing solutions.

Thoughts about affordable rental housing, the need for improved infrastructure, working with representatives from the healthcare system — all of these ideas were tossed around last week. And we’re glad they were.

The housing crisis a serious issue around here. Without enough housing, the local population could decline, and property taxes rise. School enrollment could tumble and work opportunities diminish. 

For the Harlem Valley to remain a robust community, there needs to be enough housing. Thankfully, groups like NECC and Housing Resources are on top of matters, keeping a close watch on what the issues are and ways to address them. 

Why not get involved in the conversation? The Regional Leadership Team will be meeting in all three communities it serves, with a gathering in Pine Plains this May. Times and dates to be determined, but we suggest you sketch it into your calendar as soon as details are released. Everyone should be involved in finding housing solutions — those who have their dream home and those who are merely dreaming of having a home.