Bliss board eyes survey on hiring security officer

HUDSON–Rent revenue optimism, security, heating, stairs, elevators and new openings on the board highlighted the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) Board of Commissioners meeting November 13. The HHA both manages the income-restricted Bliss complex and has 131 Section 8 vouchers available for housing elsewhere in Hudson. The City of Hudson Common Council just approved its conversion from Public Housing to a RAD (rental assistance demonstration) partnership.

“It seems as if we collected more rent than expected,” observed Board Vice-Chair Marie Balle at the meeting.

“We might have residents with higher incomes,” said HHA Executive Director Tim Mattice.

“What percent of tenants pay on time?” asked Board Chair Randall Martin.

“I say probably 95%,” answered Mr. Mattice.

Tenant Commissioner Martin Martinez reported that people who attended a recent tenants’ meeting want a security guard. The issue also received attention at the board’s October meeting, where a Bliss resident said that when she comes home late at night, she is afraid to get out of her car, because of the darkness and “people lurking around,” included a “gentleman” who tried to get into her car. In 2017 there had been talk of police providing Bliss with extra police protection, but “that didn’t happen,” Commissioners and Mr. Mattice acknowledged. Now, at the November meeting, Mr. Martin suggested they survey the tenants on whether they want a security guard, or as he called it, a health and safety officer. Mr. Martinez said the voice of the tenants who came to the meeting is sufficient. “There are people coming into the building who shouldn’t be here,” he said’

“This has got be a grass roots initiative from the tenants,” said Mr. Mattice. “We want them to be comfortable here. We have an incredibly safe and secure building. We don’t want it to backslide. We have funds in our budget for a security guard.” He and the board agreed to include a public hearing about hiring a security guard at the December board meeting.

Bliss Tower in Hudson. Photo by Jonathan Preuss

On another matter, Bliss Tower’s heat comes from “four rooftop boilers,” Mr. Mattice reported. They have been here 20 years. Three are failing.

“Could that be the reason that some apartments have no heat?” asked Bliss resident Mary Decker.

“I don’t know,” said Mr. Mattice. “Every high rise is hard to heat.”

“My apartment still has no heat. They gave us space heaters,” continued Ms. Decker. However, the previous week, the heat was “too high.”

“We’re working with Adirondack Combustible whom we’ve worked with in the past,” said Mr. Mattice. “They’re writing up a proposal about fixing and/or replacing boilers.”

Mr. Mattice also reported that city aldermen were concerned about Bliss stairwell doors remaining that can’t be opened except in case of fire. There are some non-fire emergencies where stairs could also be vital. He reported that “we’ve opened” the door to one of Bliss’ stairwells and have ordered a camera at the location. Alarms will still sound when the door is open. And one will be able to open the doors to other stairwells only in case of fire. But “we’re working on that.”

The board also voted to accept a $470,000 elevator upgrade bid from Otis Elevator Company, following a presentation by Paul Merrill of that company. And elevator life span is 20 years and the two, high-use elevators at Bliss are over 20 years old and have had many shutdowns. The plan is to keep the machinery and replace the controls and the doors with Otis brand equipment, which is expected to be more reliable and “less affected by temperature and humidity,” according to Mr. Merrill.

He said the proposed work would take 4 to 6 weeks for approval, 12 weeks after a down payment to get the material and then 12-14 weeks of work per elevator.

The $117,000 down payment can come from the existing operating reserve, Mr. Mattice said. However, with RAD conversation, the HHA is preparing to get a $2 million loan from the private sector, which will pay for the balance of the elevator project and might come fast enough to cover the down payment.

In other business at the meeting:

• The Board of Commissioners has room for three more members. The resignations of two commissioners—former Chair Alan Weaver and Treasurer Peggy Polenberg—were announced at the November meeting. The Board officially has seven positions, and only four are filled

• Mr. Mattice said he had spoken with state officials about the “displacement of residents of Hudson now happening at a record pace”

• “The new intercom system went on without a hitch,” said Mr. Mattice. “It’s cost effective”

• Flyers announced a presentation on stopping pests in housing by the StopPests in Housing Program, on Monday, December 9, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the Bliss Community Room. Earlier this fall, some tenants reported cockroaches in their apartments.

The next meeting of the HHA Board of Commissioners will be Wednesday, December 11, at 6 p.m. in the Bliss Towers Community Room.

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