HUDSON—A new board member, moratoriums on fees and evictions, the census and the coronavirus were among the topics that received attention at the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners meeting September 9.
The Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) controls the 135-unit Bliss income-restricted residential complex and supplies federal Section 8 vouchers for housing in Hudson.
The board welcomed its newest member, Claire Cousin, who had officially taken her seat a half hour before the meeting. Ms. Cousin said she is 27 years old and has lived in Hudson all her life. She is president of the Hudson Catskill Housing Coalition.
With the addition of Ms. Cousin, the board has all seven of its seats filled for the first time in months.
The housing authority board instituted a moratorium until the end of the year on its tenant fees. This goes along with the moratorium the state instituted on evictions until the end of the year. HHA Executive Director Tim Mattice reported that the HHA keeps talking with tenants who are behind on rent to keep them “engaged.”
Mr. Mattice also reported on plans to find construction companies to rehabilitate damaged apartments for habitation.
Commissioner Rebecca Wolff asked if the construction workers would be local. Mr. Mattice said that one source the HHA will use to look for a construction company is a directory of businesses owned by minorities or women. But he added, “Our procurement policy requires contractors have certain insurance and workman’s compensation. We start looking with local first, but unfortunately, most local companies are too small to afford the workman’s compensation they need.”
Since most of the damage that has made some apartments uninhabitable was reportedly caused by tenants, a commissioner said, “When people destroy their homes, it’s a mental health issue,” and recommended getting mental health professionals involved.
Representatives of social and human service agencies would come to Bliss regularly before the Covid-19 crisis. Mr. Mattice noted that some do “virtual counseling,” and now “we’re allowing some back in.”
Board members reported that a Census enumerator has been seen going through Bliss Tower and suggested posting a sign in the building to alert tenants to make sure they are counted and to cooperate with enumerators.
The goal of HHA is not only maintaining the housing currently on its property but also “meeting housing needs in the [Hudson] community,” said Board Chairman Randall Martin, adding, “We have a housing emergency crisis.”
“We don’t have enough housing for people with low incomes,” said another commissioner.
Mr. Mattice said that currently there are 77 households on the waiting list for public housing and 93 on the waiting list for section 8 vouchers. Meanwhile, of 135 units in the Bliss complex, about 25 are “off line” and awaiting rehabilitation.
Commissioner Robert Davis reported that when some members of the general public use the Bliss basketball court on State Street, some park in the Bliss residents’ lots and sometimes blocked Bliss residents from using the court. When a Bliss maintenance man asked a person to move a car, the result was “a full scale argument.”
Mr. Martin said people can park on the street. Another commissioner suggested signs explicitly warning people who do not live in Bliss not to use the lot.
“When I made the decision to put hoops back up, at first there was no problem,” said Mr. Mattice. “But then, tenants were kept from the court, and non-residents left behind garbage, drug paraphernalia, and alcohol.
Commissioners reacted with, “How many garbage cans are there on State Street? That’s a city problem,” and “I know people who stay late and pick up trash.”
On another matter, Mr. Mattice reported, “knock wood, we haven’t had any Covid-19 cases to date.”
HHA staff continue to sanitize the public areas of Bliss Tower three times a day. Employees have their temperature taken every two weeks, with the results documented. Office hours have been reduced. Every visitor’s temperature is taken, and those results are also documented. The staff is also “stockpiling” personal protection equipment.
A commissioner implied that the HHA needs to re-evaluate how it spends what is left of the $39,000 it received in COVID relief money, with a priority on helping tenants with rent.
‘When people destroy their homes, it’s a mental health issue.’
Tim Mattice, exec. director
Hudson Housing Authority
Also at the meeting:
• The Board authorized a contract with a company to replace the rooftop boilers. Bliss Tower has two sets of boilers: one on the roof for heat, the other on the first floor for hot water, and this May roof boilers broke down, reported Mr. Mattice. Since then, HHA has paid for upgrades to the boilers. But now they will totally replace the four existing rooftop boilers with two larger ones.
“This will take a lot out of our capital reserves,” observed Mr. Martin. But it will save operating money in the long run, said Mr. Mattice.
“How long will the new boilers work?” asked Mr. Martin.
“I’m hoping 40 years,” said Mr. Mattice
• Board members suggested contacting Congressman Antonio Delgado for help with Hudson’s housing needs
• A commissioner brought up the need to discuss outdoor activities for Bliss children for next summer.
Another commissioner admonished, “There are already a lot of youth programs. Programs designed for what the adults want for the kids, but kids don’t tap in, because they aren’t interested”
• Mr. Mattice reported that the HHA is working with Hunt Real Estate Capital, which has experience in loans for multifamily public housing buildings, for “permanent financing.” Right now, he said, Hunt is “loan sizing” HHA, adding, “We’ve been assured that the process is moving, but it’s slow,” because of a federal government backlog.
• The loan will allow rehabilitating the offline apartments and will allow a cash reserve, said Mr. Martin.
The next HHA regular meeting will be the regular meeting Wednesday, October 14 at 6 p.m.