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Pattern for Progress report finds workforce, housing challenges threaten Hudson Valley economy

The Hudson Valley is approaching the point where its available workforce will not be able to meet its needs, according to a recent report from the advocacy group Pattern for Progress. Pattern for Progress President and CEO Adam Bosch says there are several causes, the first of which is a declining birth rate in the area.

“The replacement birth rate is about 2.1. That's the number of kids we need to have to keep global populations flat,” Bosch said. “So what you can see here is that all of the major industrialized countries, I think, with the exception of India, which is not on this chart that was put out by the United Nations, are all now pretty well below that 2.1 number. In New York, we are at 1.57.”

The group says another cause is outmigration from New York state on the whole. According to the group’s report, that’s due to low housing supply.

“The number one reason that they list when they're surveyed is housing, about 40 to 45% of the people who are leaving the Northeast, say they're leaving because of housing,” Bosch said. “That's not a surprise to us, right? Pattern, we have a center for housing solutions. We study housing, we know that the cost of homeownership has sprinted away from our neighbors.”

Bosch says the amount of available housing is at an all-time low in the state.

“A healthy market has about six months of stock on the market. 2.4, which is, you know, many of our clients are hanging around 2.3, 2.4, 2.5 is like critically low,” Bosch said. “And then you consider that, you know, the sort of jam up in the rentals as well, is an exacerbating factor.”

The median household income in the Hudson Valley is just over $77,000 while average rents are almost $1,950 per month, or approximately $23,400 per year, roughly 30 percent of a household’s income – almost exactly the maximum percentage one should spend on rent or mortgage as suggested by financial experts.

Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposal to build some 800,000 housing units over the next ten years was dropped from the state budget. The Democrat and state lawmakers say they will continue the discussion. Meanwhile, local officials are also taking action on their own.

Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson says his city is doing what it can to increase the housing stock.

“We have a number of projects and initiatives that are in the pipeline,” Johnson said. “One of our biggest ones is we have two vacant lots in Hudson that we're looking to turn into affordable housing, one will be 20 units, the other is about 60 units.”

The Democrat says his plan also includes paths to ownership.

“There'll be two homeownership opportunities,” the mayor said. “So there'll be two townhomes with rental units on the back.”

In Kingston, Mayor Steve Noble has announced an accessory dwelling unit design competition. The units are typically smaller, residential spaces located on the same lot or attached to a larger home. Some advocates believe they can help address housing and childcare needs for seniors and families.

The competition is part of a partnership between the city of Kingston, Ulster County and other entities. Mayor Noble, a Democrat, says he believes ADUs “can be a crucial step toward relieving the countywide housing shortage while encouraging housing variety and affordability.”

Bosch added that outmigration has also driven wage increases in the state.

“As you have fewer and fewer people, one of the things that economists pointed out to us is that creates upward wage pressure,” said Bosch.

Johnson says outmigration has also been a problem for Hudson as well.

“Between us and Kingston, are the number one places that saw the most migration of citizens and second homeowners into our cities,” Johnson said. “So, you know, we, we know this issue all too well.”

While the city has seen its own people leave, Johnson noted that outmigration from New York City into is the biggest challenge.

“Our housing stock, you know, dropped, but population also dropped which is, you know, seems like that wouldn't be the case,” the mayor said. “But we had a lot of people who are single folks move in, or people who are traveling back and forth from New York City who can afford the high rents, and that in turn displaces families who want to live here, who are working class families who can't afford the rising costs of rent.”

In order to bring people in, Johnson says the Hudson Valley needs to lower the cost of market-rate housing as well.

“The other day, there was a one-bedroom in the city for I want to say $2,000 a month, which is you know, unaffordable to the working-class person,” Johnson said. “So, we really want to focus on housing at all levels, but mainly those for working-class, middle-class population.”

Johnson noted that he partnered with Pattern for Progress in writing their report, which also showed that the lack of housing has a wide range of impacts.

Again, Bosch.

“The turnout for school budget votes nowadays is pretty low,” Bosch said. “But school experts did warn or were concerned that the fewer people you have attached to the school district through their children, the more difficult it could be to pass those budgets as time goes on. And then hiring I mean, just like everybody that schools are having a really hard time with hiring,” Bosch said. “One superintendent told us, you know, you the teacher positions out there, they used to get 40-50 applications, now they're getting more like six. And you know, that makes it really hard for them to keep some of these specialty classes like technology, like STEM classes, engineering classes, that really sort of heighten the experience, especially of our junior high and high school students as they think about, you know, learning more technical and career skills.”

Bosch also detailed how the region’s healthcare system is impacted by a low housing stock.

“Our health care needs right now are on an upward trajectory, because as the Baby Boomer generation ages, that demand for health care services is going up and up and up,” Bosch said. “The problem is the number of people qualified or interested in working in health care has been going down.”

A 2022 Siena College graduate, Alexander began his journalism career as a sports writer for Siena College's student paper The Promethean, and as a host for Siena's school radio station, WVCR-FM "The Saint." A Cubs fan, Alexander hosts the morning Sports Report in addition to producing Morning Edition. You can hear the sports reports over-the-air at 6:19 and 7:19 AM, and online on WAMC.org. He also speaks Spanish as a second language. To reach him, email ababbie@wamc.org, or call (518)-465-5233 x 190. You can also find him on Twitter/X: @ABabbieWAMC.