Stories of Our Work

Meet Manny

Manny ran away from an abusive home at age 15 and never looked back. His life took many turns including joining the armed forces, raising a family, and building a career. But when an apartment complex he was living in was sold, he had trouble finding another affordable place to live, and ended up homeless. With the help of Hudson River Housing’s care managers and property management team, Manny successfully moved from emergency shelter, to transitional housing, into his own apartment at Liberty Station. Manny then spent 240 hours training in the culinary arts with the Employment Assistance & Training program at the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory. Immediately upon graduation, he was hired as one of Earth, Wind & Fuego’s first employees.

“Hudson River Housing made a big difference and a big impact on the way things are going right now. They give you time to breathe and to think about where you would like to go.”

Meet Jen & Madeline

When Jen and Madeline launched Earth, Wind & Fuego, a food-based social enterprise, they needed a commercial kitchen. But as a start-up, they had limited funds to invest. That’s why they were so happy to learn about the Poughkeepsie Open Kitchen in the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory. Here they were able to expand their services to include catering and soon started a weekday breakfast and lunch service. They partner with Hudson River Housing to host trainees who face barriers to re-entering the workforce, and hired Manny, one of the first graduates from the program. They are active in the Made in Middle Main business network and are committed to hiring local workers, supporting other small businesses on Main Street, and creating a welcoming space for neighbors of all backgrounds to come together.

“We don’t know how we could’ve done this without Hudson River Housing and without a space that creates opportunity like the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory…We’ve been here for four months and we created two jobs!”

Meet Hector

Hector was separated from his parents at a young age, and had a rough childhood. He spent time in prison, was homeless for a period, and suffered from substance abuse. At age 44, Hector decided to start over. He was hired by Hudson River Housing first for a position at Webster House Shelter, and then eventually promoted to a supervisory role. A few years ago Hector and his wife began the process of buying their first home, a dream he never thought would be possible to achieve. With assistance from Hudson River Housing’s NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center of Dutchess County, they were able to purchase a beautiful 3 bedroom duplex home in the City of Poughkeepsie.

“I’ll tell you, Hudson River Housing gave me a house. I was homeless – A house. I am forever grateful.”

Meet Alyssa

Alyssa (a pseudonym) came to River Haven Youth Shelter to escape fighting and violence at home. Care managers provided a safe and stable living environment with home cooked meals, counseling, tutoring, school    transportation, and enrichment activities. Over the summer, Alyssa enjoyed hiking at Lake Minnewaska and completed volunteer service at Gentle Giants horse sanctuary. She became a great friend to the other residents and clearly transformed during her time at River Haven. At the end of her stay, care managers assisted Alyssa in gaining new guardianship with extended family members, and helped her make a fresh start.

“River Haven gave me hope when I thought I was hopeless and ready to give up…I feel like I am a more positive person.”

Meet David

At 81 years old and after 32 years of living in his home, David began to fall behind on his mortgage. When the foreclosure notices arrived he came to Hudson River Housing’s NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center of Dutchess County for assistance. Here the housing counselors helped David apply for a Mortgage Assistance Program, provided financial coaching, and helped him create a budget that would ensure he could successfully meet the terms of his new loan.  For nearly a year the team helped David navigate a very complex process, advocating for him with banks, lawyers, and the state. Finally, just three days before his home was scheduled to be auctioned, David was able to pay off all his arrears and breathe a sigh of relief.

It was a matter of days. I didn’t think I would make it…I was going to sign up for the elderly home, but now I don’t have to.”

Meet Harry

Harry lost his wife in 2015, which triggered a downward spiral for him. He moved into Hillcrest House, where he worked with care managers to gain the stability he needed to get back on his feet. In 2017, Harry completed 240 hours of culinary training at the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory through Hudson River Housing’s Employment Assistance & Training Station. He took great pride in his tasks, and loved being out in the community and meeting new people. Now Harry has moved into his own apartment at Maybrook Gardens, an affordable senior living community managed by Hudson River Housing.

“At this point there’s nothing I can’t do. The only restrictions that I have are the ones I put on myself.”

Meet Andrea

Andrea came from an alcoholic family and suffered abuse in her childhood, which caused her to develop a lot of shame. She left home at age fourteen and moved around for a while, turning to drugs and alcohol to take away her pain. She eventually became homeless and was in prison a couple of times, due to her addiction. Upon her last release, Andrea got involved with a local support group, which helped her reintegrate into the community. She eventually moved into Hillcrest House and, with the help of care managers, found a job as a cashier.

“Hillcrest has been a gift. I feel safe here, I have my own room. I can shut my door and lock it and don’t have to worry about anybody.”

Meet Tony

Tony graduated from Poughkeepsie High School and joined the Army two weeks later, where he served for over 17 years. He was stationed in Hawaii, California, Texas, Georgia and New York, but suffered a traumatic brain injury while serving in Iraq. When he came back to Poughkeepsie, he didn’t have a place to stay and didn’t want to be a burden on his family, so he spent a couple weeks living out of his truck. Soon he connected with Hudson River Housing and, within days, moved into Liberty Station. Eventually he was hired by Hudson River Housing as a Care Manager and Hillcrest House.

“I’m not the common person that people think would fall on those hard times and I would just say that it could happen to anyone.”

Meet Angel

16-year old Angel was hired for his first job through Hudson River Housing’s Youth LEAP Program. Angel worked at C&F Shoe Repair where he learned about the cobbler trade, customer service, and working the cash register. Through the program he also toured Dutchess Community College, created a resume, visited a local bank, learned about budgeting and establishing credit, made some friends, and became more civically-engaged. After the program was over, Angel was hired by the owner of C&F Shoe Repair as the company’s first employee.

“We learned about working, we thought about our future a little bit…And we basically thought about things we can do to make the community better.”