Housing board mulls plight of ‘unrecorded’ tenants

HUDSON—Delays in business communication, apartments with more tenants than recorded, a coronavirus response plan and capital projects dominated the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) meeting Wednesday, July 8. The HHA runs the 135-unit income-restricted Bliss complex in Hudson.

HHA Executive Director Tim Mattice reported that it is taking longer to hear back from some entities the HHA does or hope to do business with. “Everybody is behind schedule” because of the business downturn and Covid-19 adjustments, he said. “I’m seeing this across the board,” including from prospective lenders.

Robert Davis, a commissioner on the HHA Board and a resident of Bliss Tower, called attention to people who are not recorded as living in Bliss but are in fact living there with a leaseholder.

Mr. Mattice acknowledged, “This has been an ongoing problem since before I came here. It will probably always be a problem. “

Furthermore, Mr. Davis said, when tenants let friends and relatives live with them unofficially, other tenants feel they can do the same.

Examples mentioned of unofficial residents ranged from a woman living in her mother’s apartment (with her baby) after fleeing domestic violence, to someone with a criminal record. “We have many children in Bliss,” and must not endanger them, Mr. Mattice said.

Bliss leases allow people not on the lease to stay with tenants up to 14 days, said Randall Martin, chairman of the HHA Board of Commissioners. But Mr. Mattice observed that enforcing the 14-day limit “is difficult.” When the HHA suspects that a tenant has long-staying guests, “we call them down,” Mr. Mattice said.

“We can put them on their host’s lease, but first they must apply” for Bliss residence and go through the screening for new tenants. “We want to know who’s in the building and their background.”

‘There’s not enough support for the needy.’

Randall Martin, chairman

Hudson Housing Authority

Previously this policy was enforced on a case-by-case basis. But Mr. Martin noted that “there is a feeling” that when overstays are discovered, “not all people have been dealt with in the same way.”

Michael Bruno, legal counsel to the HHA, advised the board, “You can’t selectively enforce provisions of the lease.”

“It would be to our benefit to deal with this in house rather than by evicting,” Mr. Martin said.

“This is an open building,” Mr. Mattice said, adding, “We can’t deny access to people except if they have committed a crime.” Furthermore, homelessness is a problem in Columbia and Greene Counties and the area needs more affordable housing as well as more emergency and transitional housing.

If a tenant who living without HHA approval is approved, the household’s rent might be adjusted for its new member’s income. And the household might become eligible for a larger apartment.

One commissioner expressed concern about cases where more than the expected number of individuals share a bedroom.

“Being over-housed is better than being on the street,” said Mr. Martin. “There’s not enough support for the needy.”

Also at the meeting the HHA Board approved a Coronavirus Response Plan, which Mr. Mattice had prepared. The board added the condition that the plan be reviewed once a month and amended as necessary. Mr. Mattice also wrote a Business Reopening Safety Plan, to have on hand for health inspectors when they come.

“Are there daily health screenings of employees?” asked board Vice-Chair Marie Balle.

“Yes,” answered Mr. Mattice. “We purchased thermometers. And we keep track of every tenant who comes into the office.

“Are we stockpiling supplies in case we have a resurgence?” asked Mr. Martin.

Yes, Mr. Mattice replied.

In other business:

• Mr. Mattice reported on three capital projects: 1. To make vacant apartments habitable, an engineering firm is “working up” a request for proposals; 2. HHA hopes to order new rooftop boilers within a month. Bliss Tower has two boiler systems: one for heat, and one for hot water. It has boilers on both the “first floor” and the roof. A downstairs boiler was recently replaced; 3. Although Otis Elevator has submitted a bid to rebuild the tower’s elevators, the HHA will seek additional bids, “to make sure we have the best,” said Mr. Mattice

• Mr. Martin suggested coming up with an anti-displacement policy

• Mr. Mattice reported that the person the HHA had hired as an accountant had taken a new job and the authority needs to fill that position

• The director said, “Financially, we’re in position for a lot of money” from lenders.

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