POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—Christa Hines sat in her quiet, isolated office on 313 Mill Street, pondering what the immediate next steps for her company would be. When asked about the fact that the Department of Veteran Affairs would not be renewing their annual grant, her response was exceedingly dour. “That’s correct”, Hines said. She replied with a simple “no” when asked if she had been in direct contact with Veterans Affairs. In her responses, one could easily pick up a somber, defeated tone. In a way, she serves as a personification of the views of both her organization and the community at large, as a force that provides a great many services for a large number of people now faces an incredibly murky and uncertain future.
Hudson River Housing, a 35-year-old fixture of Poughkeepsie which provides low to moderate-income housing and additional services to Dutchess County homeless, was recently denied a $516,000 grant it has received every year since 2012. Hines, who has been with the company since 1998, was thrilled when she first found out her organization had been approved for this grant. “It fit in perfectly with our mission,” Hines said. “We really ramped up after that, and we had been running the program extremely well for 5 years.”, Hines added. Hines and the organization pride themselves on meeting the homeless directly and offering assistance. The grant allows them to offer a greater quality service to a larger number of Dutchess County homeless in that very direct way. Lindsay Duvall, the Community Development Manager, also made note of the multiple awards the organization has won over the years. “In 2014 and 2015, we won an award from Syracuse University’s Institute of Veterans and Military Families,” Duvall said.
With rave reviews from both nationally credited institutions and the local community, the news that their grant application would not be renewed is made all the more shocking. Hines’ biggest reservation with HRH’s application being discarded was not the denial of the funds, but rather what she believed to be the unprofessional and rushed manner in which they delivered the news to them. “The manner in which we received the news was extremely unprofessional and shortsighted,” Hines said. “Two weeks is not enough time to create a plan for how we’re going to operate.”
Hines also downplayed the strength of their suggested solution for homelessness in Dutchess County. “I would like to know how Dutchess County is supposed to address veterans who come directly to us,” Hines said. “Often times, they don’t have the means, transportation, or mental capacity to go to a place like Newburgh or Westchester,” Hines added.
Luckily for HRH, they may have state legislators who will attempt to keep the organization running as normal. US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has put out a statement in which he mentioned our “obligation to care” for veterans. US Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) seconded Schumer’s motion with a letter of his own, calling for the VA to “reverse the misguided decision and restore those critical funds.” The organization has also established a crowdfunding initiative to encourage the community at large to give back and support their mission.
Given their backing from the community and the legislature, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Hudson River Housing received an influx of cash and support.