HUDSON–Pets, security guards, vacant apartments, Hudson’s Youth Center and boilers received attention at the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) Board of Commissioners meeting December 11. The HHA controls Hudson’s 9-story Bliss Tower (120 apartments), the three 2-story Columbia Apartment buildings (15 apartments) on same grounds, and the federal Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 program for housing elsewhere in Hudson.
Bliss tenants criticized inconsistent rules regarding what pets they are allowed to keep in their apartments, what information and documentation–if any–they must provide before being allowed to keep them, and whether they have to pay for them.
The discussion started when Tenant Commissioner Martin Martinez reported that a tenant had told him about being charged $75 for a cat. “I was never told of the policy,” said Mr. Martinez. “When did this start? Did it ever come before the board?”
“I was just charged $75 for a cat,” added Bliss resident Mary Decker. A person at the Bliss administration office had pulled out a “page from 2002” specifying the fee.
“I was on the board in 2002, and I don’t remember it coming to the board,” Mr. Martinez said.
“It’s in the lease,” said Tenant Commissioner Robert Davis. “I read it in mine from two and a half years ago.”
Another tenant reported that when she came in 2012, “it was not in my lease. I read every fine print of the lease. But I was told there were no animals allowed. I had to get rid of my expensive poodle.”
Ms. Decker said that at one time “you couldn’t have a dog,” but now you can if it meets certain weight restrictions.
“The situation predates me,” said HHA Executive Director Tim Mattice. “Charging for pets is typical of public housing. It appears there is a policy in place. We need to research the origin.”
“Why are they being charged now if they weren’t before?” asked board Vice-Chair Marie Balle.
“Either why are they being charged now or why weren’t they being charged before,” said Mr. Martinez.
“If the policy has been in place but not enforced, it’s unfair to impose it suddenly now,” said Chairman Martin.
As a consequence of the discussion the board voted to suspend requirements for keeping pets at Bliss until the board studies past pet policies and determines whether they have been enforced and what the pet policy should be now.
On another matter, the Board approved the hiring a part-time security guard for the Bliss complex and amended the budget to include that cost. Mr. Mattice said that almost 30 tenants responded to a survey sent to them, and all but one approved of having a security guard. This was just the first step, he said. Now the board has to discuss what the security guard’s schedule and duties will be. Mr. Mattice said he would create an outline for the board to use.
Mr. Mattice also said that 25 apartments in the Bliss complex had been taken “off line” because of “damage done to them by tenants.” He said he hopes that by early in the year–after conversion from public housing to a privately owned RAD (rental assistance demonstration) facility–HHA will get a loan for repairs and that will lead to all apartments coming back on line this summer.
He said that using HHA’s existing resources, “We are preparing to lease” six of the apartments “within the next month.” Preparation includes repainting the walls and replacing the floors.
Also at the meeting:
• Tyrone Hedgepeth of Hudson’s Youth Center said he is looking for more parents who live in Bliss to be on the Youth Center’s Board or lead classes there. Many youth from Bliss are involved with the Youth Center. Mr. Hedgepeth and Mr. Martin said they would update each other on events happening in Bliss and the Youth Center that could be of interest to each other.
Mr. Hedgepeth said he lived in Bliss for years starting when he was 8. “You’ve done a great job sprucing it up,” he said. “It’s more like a home”
• The board is exploring the repair or replacement of the Bliss boilers. John Frank of Adirondack Combustion Technologies came to the meeting and spoke about his company’s role in the Bliss heating system, in the past and potentially in the future
• Rebecca Wolff is joining the Board of Commissioners, having been picked by Hudson Mayor Richard Rector. His successor next year, Kamal Johnson, will pick people to fill the Board’s two remaining open seats. Ms. Wolff has been an activist with Affordable Housing Hudson
• Mr. Martin thanked the City of Hudson for its roll in getting the HHA $500,000 from a New York State Housing and Community Renewal program. The funds will be used for repairs
• Mr. Martin said Columbia-Greene Community College is coming to Bliss both to recruit students and to help them apply for financial aid
• The person the HHA hired for accounting has left and Mr. Mattice announced, “We’ve contracted with a CPA firm in Cairo to work in our office once a week and as needed”
• Mr. Mattice said, “We have to stop over-spraying the building with pesticides and concentrate on gel bait.” Pest control companies have to spend a whole day in the building, but right now he said they’re “rushing through” the task. “The key to the problem is keeping your apartment clean.”