Two Agendas At Cross Purposes in Newburgh’s Housing Debate
by Michael Lebron
The Newburgh Housing Authority (NHA) announced a new policy directive from The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at its recent board meeting. Landlords are to be encouraged to participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV) who have properties outside of areas with high concentrations of minorities and high poverty rates. To that end, the NHA will be conducting a minimum of two educational seminars a year to recruit landlords from The Town of Newburgh and New Windsor to participate in HCVs.
This policy is pursuant to research by HUD as well as others from educational institutions and policy think tanks that indicate that children growing up in racially and economically diverse communities have a higher probability of improving their economic circumstances. It is now to be a goal of the NHA to help expand the areas that recipients of HVAs can use them beyond The City of Newburgh. Census tract data from 2000 found on the City of Newburgh’s website show high concentrations of minorities and poverty within the city limits.
Meanwhile, the city continues to conduct Community Meetings for feedback on its proposal to site new moderate to low income and supportive housing for 2 Montgomery, a site located within a census tract that HUD is trying to direct such housing choices away from. The most recent meeting on Wednesday May 2 was held in the Ebenezer Baptist Church. It was led by Rae Leiner, who introduced herself as not working for either Alembic nor Hester Street, two organizations leading the effort, but rather as the Director of the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative that is partnered with the United Way. Unlike earlier meetings that attracted hundreds, this meeting drew about a dozen attendees, all African-American and Hispanic. Rae shared demographic and other data with them and inquired about their housing and lifestyle needs. Some of those attending, while interested in more housing options, also appeared to be a little skeptical, at least at first, alleging that earlier efforts at low income housing were of poor quality and riddled with corruption, and wondered why this would be any different.
Possibly in a related action, the city recently filed suit against the NHA over the NHA’s refusal to pay to have the city inspect its Mullins and Fogarty Apartments. The NHA argues that HUD already inspects them and feels that money for additional inspections could be better spent on maintenance.