Floyd Patterson’s former home in New Paltz could become “home base” for foster child program

Judith Halbreich hopes to transform Floyd Patterson’s former four-bedroom house located at 85 Springtown Road into a “home base” for a program to help foster kids. (photo by Al Alexsa)

Before he was a champion boxer, Floyd Patterson was a troubled kid who was sent upstate to the Wiltwyck School for Boys. That decision turned his life around. Seventy years after Patterson’s reform-school experience began, the owner of his former home in New Paltz apparently hopes to again associate his name with giving help to young people. Neighbors near the Springtown Road property have received an invitation to an open house on September 9 to kick off the “Home of Champions,” and some of them have questions.

Manhattanite Judith Halbreich hopes to transform Patterson’s four-bedroom house into a “home base” for a program to help foster kids and those aging out of that system get a leg up by honing their leadership skills. Spending years bouncing from home to home, these young adults often miss the opportunities others have had growing up to hone those skills. According to media reports, Halbreich wants to begin the program with eight young people, comprised of teens from the Hudson Valley and young adults aged 18-24 from New York City. In time, she hopes 40 people at a time will participate.


Rather than wait for the open house to ask questions, Kristin and Timothy Kay brought their concerns to the August 3 New Paltz Town Council meeting. Board members were unfamiliar with the project, which would be taking place, as Timothy told them more than once, “right in our back yard,” as they live directly behind the Patterson estate. Other neighbors, they advised, had contacted building and planning officials and determined that they were also unfamiliar with these plans.

Characterizing the project as an “orphanage,” the Kays told board members they were concerned about inner-city youth wandering the neighborhood. “No one’s ever loved them,” Timothy said of the potential clients, and with the thought of them living so close, “I don’t feel safe,” particularly with two young children of their own.

Their questions included what kind of training would be provided to staff members, and what steps would be taken to keep these “inner city kids” from “ending up in my back yard” in this “very safe neighborhood.” Would it be possible to at least require a fence be built between the properties, they wondered, and what kind of traffic impact would all those staff members cause west of the Wallkill?

Board members recommended contacting Stacy Delarede, one of the town’s two building inspectors, to determine if any local approval is required.


There are 11 comments

  1. Dorothy

    Wow I think that is social profiling if I dont say so myself. Maybe they should be the ones to put up the fence and maybe electrify it. Oh and some barbed wire too. This way they will have no worries. I think the use of the Patterson home would be wonderful for these kids. They need more life skills as they get ready to enter the adult world.

  2. paul portman

    prejudiced? maybe. but pretty much any proposal of any kind has its haters, especially something involving affordable housing, halfway houses, developmentally disabled– anything other than a single-family home. there’s certainly a prejudice against the house next door going from a family to a place where a bunch of residents will be cycling in and out.

  3. Ray Speth

    The program is having an open house on Sept 9th which requires an RSVP by Aug 19th. https://homeofchampionsny.org/
    Well, I think what also needs to be answered for folks is that when we use the broad category of “Foster care” in NYS are we in fact speaking of something closer to a Health Home model, and if so are we kind of talking around the topic of individuals needing complex care that may include serious behavioral conditions? The answer may very well be no , but by defining the program in terms of more of a mission statement than a program type and how it may, or may not, work under Medicaid in strict terms, it’s kind of avoiding addressing folks concerns head on. It’s the life long problem between perception and intent, but also the difference between transparency and putting the best spin on what you’re hoping to accomplish. Also, in which case a program of 8 becomes a far cry from a program of 40 individuals at a single location.

  4. Stacy Watson

    But New Paltz doesnt fight the group home already there in the village of New Paltz right on Wurtz street….It sounds like a great much needed program. I would love love to help!!!

  5. Ray

    First let me stress that my comment is not in opposition to the project, but a desire for clarification and transparency, with some admitted skepticism all around. The question remains that the program is specifically not being called a “Group Home”, at least in the meeting minutes before the town planning board. However, what it is called could, quite frankly, be a subject of the ever evolving jargon that programs that are very much alike are referred to by. That definition may or may not classify it as a “Health Home” by subject of funding and expansion of these programs, but we don’t know. Speaking to the subject of existing local group homes both by the State and non-for-profits, as a program on Wurts is mentioned, local saturation of like programs is a real and valid condition that may be considered. This would be part of the formal planning process, and while there is mention of the project in the New Paltz Planning Committee meeting minutes, it is not clear if a formal application took place. It’s disappointing that the reporting on this matter cites that the Town Board had no awareness of the project, while it clearly appears in Planning Board meeting minutes with no follow up. You’d think someone could have easily checked the files present in the website in a matter of seconds. There is a reference to the need for a future formal application at that time. It is unclear if a formal application took place. Which is a little odd as the program has already scheduled an open house with an RSVP coming up this week. A follow up response from the board in the paper would be indicated. http://www.townofnewpaltz.org/…/20150223_final_planning…

    1. Villager

      With tweedeldedum and tweedeldeedee as chairpersons what do you expect, town employees? Same on the zoning board, and who is the lawyer for that one. You have to personally attend meetings of them all, village included to get a comprehensive understanding of the machinations and exingencies of what you call this operation I believe to be a perpetual motion device but they don’t exist

  6. Judith Halbreich

    Dear All,

    Reading this piece concerns me as I believe it is a misrepresentation of our program and organization, Home of Champions.

    Home of Champions will carefully prescreen youth (18-24) with leadership capabilities and potential. The students will be of the highest academic standards and will be required to be in the top of their class. The focus is on students who are academically motivated and have the desire to become leaders in the community, academy and businesses. Students will be expected to think local and act global; their contributions to the local community as well as the world will be valued actions, so leadership skills will be required.

    We aim to continue the heritage and legacy of this historical symbolic entity by working to emphasize the positive attributes of youth, challenging them to match Patterson, Mohammad Ali and other champions’ tenacious spirit and will power, all while empowering them to become the best versions of themselves they can be.

    The educational program is in a planning stage that takes time to establish a consortium of experts from leading Universities, Colleges and Businesses which will hopefully be based at SUNY New Paltz. In the first couple of years, we will establish and convene a national expert advisory board and conduct community town hall meetings to develop programs that will benefit New Paltz and Ulster County communities.

    Our wish is to enhance the New Paltz community. We want to establish a program that is positive and helpful to youth, amplifying the positive aspects and integrating them in the academic and community activities.

    I want to emphasize that New Paltz currently benefits from a lively community of 7,000 young students who contribute to the town’s cultural life, promoting local businesses and the local economy. They keep New Paltz young and energetic.

    Home of Champions is not an orphanage or a place to house youth that roam the streets of New Paltz. Home of Champions is a leadership program for youth. I can understand the concerns of the neighbors and that is why I invited them to an open house event, first and foremost, to meet them and explain what we plan to do in collaboration with them and the community.

    We wish to be a productive part of the New Paltz community. I have had the marvelous opportunity to serve social services in Manhattan creating programs, and directing agencies that benefit all youth and adults both in New York City and New York State.

    Terence – Would love to grant an interview with your or another hv1 writer to further discuss, in order to present our program more accurately.

    We are open to receiving input and productive suggestions from the community, as we understand that collaborating will be the most successful way forward. We would be very glad if you could join us on Sept 9th at our Open House.


    Judith Halbreich, LCSW
    Founder – Home of Champions

  7. Valley of courage

    Why not attend the open house with your questions and do the research on the success/failures of this type of program located in rural, suburbia and in the inner cities. You might be surprised.
    Sometimes facts outweigh fear.

  8. Stacy

    The children there will “roam the street” as previously stated….less then the college students in town….less then New Paltz residents children already do and will do in the future. This is a positive place where young people will get structured guidance to become important people. Definatly cant say others just because they live in New Paltz will be that LUCKY!!!

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