The Democratic Caucus of the Dutchess County Legislature has learned that County Administration is failing to implement the emergency housing facility plan involving the purchase of 26 Oakley Street in the City of Poughkeepsie. Throughout, the project was strongly opposed by the Democratic caucus and drew significant community outrage.

At the time the purchase was first proposed in March 2022, the Democratic Caucus criticized the move by the Republican majority, citing concerns about insufficient services, neighborhood, zoning, and lack of community input for the proposed shelter. After winning an initial 30-day delay to solicit community input and study the ramifications of the $2.1 million purchase, Democratic and community concerns were ignored, and the Dutchess County Legislature’s Republican supermajority pushed the sale through.

26 Oakley Street is located in the 5th Ward of the City of Poughkeepsie, an area struggling with gun violence, crime, drug abuse, and high unemployment. City residents have continually voiced their concerns about the impact 26 Oakley would have in a residential neighborhood. Now, it’s clear that the County never had a clear plan to provide adequate services to the vulnerable homeless population they intended to house at the proposed shelter. 

Democrats were informed of the County’s failure during their March 2nd Leadership meeting with County Executive Bill O’Neill and County Commissioners. 

Minority Leader Yvette Valdés Smith (D-Beacon/Fishkill) said, “We are absolutely stunned by the waste of taxpayer dollars and the County’s total lack of planning and transparency. This is a prime example of how the County Executive’s office runs everything behind closed doors.”  She added, “We repeatedly shared our concerns on this project from the moment our Republican colleagues announced the planned purchase, but our questions were ignored. The previous County Executive (Marcus Molinaro) used this as a campaign ploy to help himself get to Congress and never thought this through. The homeless crisis in Dutchess County continues to grow and we have lost a year that could have been spent addressing it. Dutchess County residents and taxpayers deserve better than this.”  

Legislator Kris Munn (D-Red Hook) said, “The Republicans have wasted our time and money on a politically-motivated plan doomed to failure. We warned them and now we’re back to square one with no progress on the homeless crisis in our county.”

Assistant Minority Leader Barrington Atkins (D-City of Poughkeepsie) agreed, saying, “To our knowledge, the “pods” which house our homeless population right now are still scheduled to close on September 23rd. This means we are facing a crisis for our homeless population of grave proportions. My colleagues and I have been working on alternate strategies to protect the vulnerable homeless population and will be engaging with local communities as we continue work to solve imminent disaster.”