Three who know Bliss highlight its strengths

HUDSON–Three prominent city residents have recently spoken about Hudson’s Bliss income-restricted high-rise apartment building, and the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) that runs it, based on their experiences related to it. Their comments contained positive and optimistic observations.

Though none of them lives there now, all have had involvement with the housing and its administration.

Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga (D) represents Hudson’s 2nd Ward, which includes Bliss tower. At one time she lived there. She spoke at an October 9 meeting of the HHA’s Board of Commissioners, saying, “I think the board is more willing to discuss things with residents than four years ago.” She mentioned “the uniqueness of Hudson and the uniqueness of this building—a community within a community. We are a building of neighbors who look out for each other. Because of affordability issues, families who come here tend to stay here.”

When children graduate from high school, she recommended encouraging them to go to college—even if for just a certificate class—rather than getting a job, which would cause their parents to lose their income eligibility for their apartment.

Alan Weaver, who sells real estate and recently left the HHA Board after four and a half years, two of them as chairman, said in mid-November, “I’m proud of what was accomplished” while he was on the board. The accomplishments he noted included his role in finding a new executive director of HHA and subsequently “working with the new director [Tim Mattice] to turn things around.”

Mr. Weaver said the best part of his board term was “being exposed to the tenants, learning who lives there and why, and learning what the HHA can do to help fill their needs.”

He said that after the Hudson Common Council approved the conversion of the HHA from public housing to a RAD (rental assistance demonstration) project this fall, “I resigned because had only six months left in my term, and I had accomplished everything I wanted to.”

“Hopefully the HHA will continue to progress as it has for a few years,” Mr. Weaver said. “I feel I left it in a much better condition than it was in when I first joined the board.”

Mary Ann Gazzola, who lives elsewhere in Hudson and came to several recent HHA Board meetings, said at the October 9 meeting, “I’ve been in Hudson since the 1980s and have been looking at and studying Bliss for over 20 years. Bliss has been changing for the better, along with the whole city. [We need] to change the condition and perception of Bliss. A lot of people often think of this as crime-ridden. If HUD approves, we should put people who live or work in Hudson at the top of the waiting list.”

HUD is the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, the agency that administers the Section 8 federal housing assistance voucher program and oversees other federally funded housing programs.

“You also need marketing” Ms. Gazzola said. “There are a lot of people who do not know they are eligible for Section 8. You should encourage upward mobility. It would be helpful if public housing were a way-station for young, able-bodied people. They can take a breather there and then move on.” Anticipating it might be the last HHA meeting she attended, she added, “It has been a pleasure and honor to know some people on the board. Thank-you everybody; it’s been fun.”

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