Back in 2014 I wrote an article discussing the exciting new commercial development proposed for the Hudson Valley and the need to develop housing opportunities to support such development and ensure that the employees at this facility could live and thereby spend their money in the Hudson Valley. The article can be found at https://jacobowitz.com/2014/06/26/hudson-valley-new-commercial-development-affordable-housing/
In that article I discussed the fact that based upon the projected wages for the casino employees and several of the proposed warehouses that a good portion of those employees could not afford to live in the Hudson Valley.
Fast forward to today, many of those developments that we anticipated are now about to open and many new developments will be built in the next couple of years.
Unfortunately, the development of housing opportunities has not kept pace with the commercial developments. This is not a sustainable development pattern.
It is vital for our local economy that in order to take full advantage of this development that employees live and spend in the area. An article in the Monday, January 29, 2018 Times Herald Record discussed the boom to local businesses associated with the workers involved in constructing the Resorts World Casino in Monticello. In addition to being a boom to those businesses, that activity contributed to an approximately $700,000 increase in Sullivan County sales tax revenue in 2017 over 2016.
That same article, however, discloses another problem since many of those construction workers were brought in from places like Buffalo, Connecticut and Chicago. That is acceptable on a temporary basis, however, the casino or any business cannot thrive if it has to house its permanent employees in hotels.
Imagine the sustained boom to the Hudson Valley economy if the permanent employees at these businesses were all able to live in close proximity of these commercial facilities. Those employees would patronize local restaurants, shop at local stores, use local contractors, plumbers, electricians, doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. Their children would take dance lessons, karate lessons, and have birthday parties at local facilities.
There are many economic development engines beginning to acknowledge the importance of housing and work on solving these issues. Pattern for Progress Housing Solutions Initiative is doing great work. Pattern’s research and studies that can be found at https://www.pattern-for-progress.org/what-we-do/current-issues-research-agenda/housing/. The Orange County Partnership has formed a task force to discuss and address ways to ensure local workforce is available to serve existing and proposed new development.
It is imperative that in 2018 there be a concerted effort by local municipalities and county planning departments to support the efforts of these organizations and appropriately plan and to provide necessary housing in many different shapes and forms to make this new development truly sustainable.
In the coming year I will be posting interesting news articles and writing blogs updating everyone on progress as we work together to solve this pressing problem.