From Blight to Bright- Reclaiming Your Neighborhood
Pattern for Progress’ Center for Housing Solutions and Urban Initiatives hosted its 12th annual housing conference that drew as many as 120 leaders and professionals in the fields of affordable housing, community development, municipal government, housing development, planning and engineering and community lending.
The conference, titled “From Blight to Bright: Reclaiming Your Neighborhood,” was held on Friday at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel and focused on reclaiming neighborhoods and rebuilding communities.
Lynne M. Patton, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey, delivered the keynote address. Patton, who oversees the largest public housing program in the country, stressed the importance of housing because, she said, it not only provided security and stability, but also hope and dignity.
“New York and New Jersey represent an extremely dense and high-cost area of the country where this administration recognizes that we cannot afford not to address blight and preserve our existing affordable and public housing, as in many cases, there is no place to build,” said Patton. “We are doing this through historic physical inspection reform, innovative programs like RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration) and federal oversight of distressed public housing authorities.”
Earlier in the morning, Karen L. Black, principal of May 8 Consulting, spoke about tools to mitigate blight and revitalize communities through code enforcement. Blight was just a symptom of the underlying issue of weak demand, she told participants. When blight is eliminated, she said, crime is reduced, the health of area residents improves, surrounding property values go up by up to 30%, tax revenue goes up, thereby supporting school districts.
Adam Zaranko, president of the NYS Land Bank Association and executive director of the Albany County Land Bank Corporation, spoke about the benefits of land banks and best practices for their implementation. He predicted that as New York continues to lose population, the problem of vacant properties will spread to areas that currently do not face it.
Brian Pine, of Burlington Associates, discussed the benefits and best practices for community land trusts with a focus on affordable housing. Among its many benefits, land trusts prevent gentrification by redeveloping properties and preserving their values.
“Land banks and land trusts can – and should – work together,” Pine said.
Madeline Fletcher of New York State Homes and Community Renewal joined Black, Zaranko and Pine to moderate a panel discussion focusing on comprehensive community development, including code enforcement, Brownfield funds and naturally occurring retirement communities.
“Pattern was very pleased to bring together well over a hundred participants from the Hudson Valley to learn about valuable tools to revitalize our communities,” said Pattern senior vice president and executive director of the Center for Housing Solutions and Urban Initiatives Joe Czajka. “Lynne Patton, the regional administrator from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provided an inspirational talk about safe and affordable housing for our communities.”
HUD Community Planning and Development Specialist Joseph Baietti also gave a presentation about Opportunity Zones and Section 108, HUD’s loan guarantee program.
Presentations from the Presenters
Karen Black- May 8 Consulting
Adam Zaranko-Albany County Land Bank Corporation
Brian Pine-Burlington Associates in Community Development
A Pathway for Urban Revitalization: Community Development Health & Housing
The theme of urban revitalization and the intersection of housing, health, and community and economic development brought over 140 attendees to the 2018 Housing Forum held September 28 in Poughkeepsie. Pattern jumpstarted the event with an overview of synergies between housing and economic development, and a presentation about struggling households and the importance of increasing the supply of a wide range of housing options. Speakers from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, NeighborWorks America, the Center for Community Progress, and Lawrence Community Works presented valuable tools and techniques about revitalizing the urban centers.
The forum also included a panel discussion on the links between economic development and housing. The panel included Matt Rand from BHG Rand Realty, Sue Gerry from the Westchester Medical Center Health Network, Joe Bonura from the Bonura Hospitality Group, and Joe Apicella from MacQuesten Development and was moderated by Mike Oates, President & CEO of Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation. Panelists spoke about the need for additional rental housing serving households at all income levels. New housing developments with amenities are critical for economic development to advance and to attract and retain the workforce.
Pattern provided a snapshot of countywide data from the recently released report from the United Way known as ALICE, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. The data represents the growing number of individuals and families who are working, but are unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, child care, food, transportation and health care.
Presentations from the Presenters
Joseph Czajka-Pattern for Progress
Jason Bram-Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Urbanization and The Regional Economy
Jessica Andors-Lawrence Community Works
A Network Based Approach to Community Development
Alan Mallach-Center for Community Progress
The Challenge of Revitalizing Small Cities
Sarah Norman-NeighorWorks America
Working Together for Stronger Communities
Housing in Urban Centers
The face of the Hudson Valley is changing due to population shifts, growth and residents’ needs. Many view those improvements as an important evolution. But others are finding themselves left behind — and wondering how they fit into communities once very familiar, but now different.
That issue, gentrification, has been a longstanding focus of Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress. Its latest effort to provide a framework for the road ahead was a forum, “Gentrification: Finding a Balance,” Dec. 15 at the Lewis Tompkins Hose Firehouse in Beacon. An in-depth report now available from Pattern’s Center for Housing Solutions and Urban Initiatives tackles the issue, suggesting solutions and more.
Keynote speaker Ruben Diaz Jr., borough president of the Bronx, provided a roadmap regarding how his community has rocketed forward via “planning with a purpose” and always keeping residents and their needs and opportunities top of mind.
The result: A community that’s now safer than many of America’s major cities, including Philadelphia, Dallas and Boston. A community with an unemployment rate that’s been halved. A community where private investment is powering new housing, businesses and more. A community where tourism is surging. And a community where residents can still be part of the emerging landscape.
A panel discussion brought the issues home to the Hudson Valley. Beacon Mayor Randy Casale, developer Ken Kearney of Kearney Realty & Development, Dutchess County Planning Department expert Anne Saylor, and moderator Greg Maher of Leviticus 25:23 Alternative Fund, Inc., explained approaches, successes and opportunity.
The forum was held to assist elected officials see how to achieve balance in growth. It also attracted municipal planners, housing officials and community groups considering strategies to stake out the future. The program was sponsored by Orange & Rockland Utilities, the Community Preservation Corp. and Holt Construction.