HUDSON—The Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) Board of Commissioners met November 18 and heard concerns of public housing residents, where roaches have infested some apartments.
The HHA manages the 135-unit income-restricted Bliss complex in Hudson, as well as Section 8 vouchers for housing elsewhere in the city.
This was the first meeting for the newest commissioner, Rebecca Borrer, a multimedia artist. The Board now has seven members, five of whom joined this year. Two commissioners live in Bliss Tower.
“Not only are we board members, but also we represent all the people in Bliss,” Commissioner Claire Cousin stated. “People should come to you,” she said and proposed that the board “educate” Bliss residents about the authority’s grievance process.
Ms. Cousin said that one thing residents complain about is that in some apartments, “It’s raining roaches.”
This topic has come up at several previous meetings and some commissioners suggested treating all of Bliss Tower at the same time, even though this could require tower residents to spend at least one night elsewhere.
Until “Covid set us back,” the HHA was treating individual apartments once a month or once a week, said HHA Executive Director Tim Mattice.
“We can’t spend money on something that isn’t working,” said Ms. Cousin. Having an exterminator treat one apartment won’t eliminate roaches from neighboring apartments.
“If a full building extermination is what tenants want, we should do it,” said Ms. Borrer.
“Some people aren’t mobile,” cautioned Commissioner Rebecca Wolff, who questioned whether the whole building could be fumigated in a single day.
Another concern raised is that some residents do not let exterminators into their apartments.
Mr. Mattice said arrangements can be made with the Fire Department and a bus company for preparing the building and moving the residents. He said he will set up a meeting with Pestech Pest Control of Kingston to discuss possibilities.
Edrick Brown, the board’s other Bliss resident, said that while he has seen improvements in the building, “there are still people doing drugs.”
‘If a full building extermination is what tenants want, we should do it.’
Rebecca Borrer, commissioner
Hudson Housing Authority
“Your concern is valid and needs exploring, but we have to do it in a responsible way,” said Ms. Cousin. “Are you going to start a dialogue as a board member or a resident? As a board, we should be focusing on tenants’ livelihoods. I don’t think we should do police work,” she said.
“How about harm reduction, like a needle exchange,” suggested Ms. Borrer.
“This [topic] would be more appropriate for a tenants association,” said board Chair Marie Balle, who said that the problem might be so bad that police might have to get involved.
“This has been a longstanding problem,” said Mr. Mattice. “It was worse some years ago. We’ve gotten a lot of tenants to deal with addiction issues, and they’ve returned as productive citizens. We’ve tried to engage the Hudson Police Department. But we have to respect people’s privacy.” S
He also recognized that “we have to keep a safe building” and said, “A lot of drug influence comes from outside the building, not residents.”
Board Vice-Chair Revonda Smith, spoke of reviewing HHA’s policies on who may live at Bliss. “I would like to see why some people who applied for housing at Bliss were rejected,” she said. “I would like to see the list of people banned from Bliss,” who also wants information on “impending evictions.”
“I wasn’t aware of a ban list,” said Ms. Balle.
“I heard it’s lengthy,” said Ms. Cousin.
Mr. Mattice said he was only aware of pending eviction. “It’s been pending for some time. We can’t discuss it in public.”
Currently, 25 Bliss apartments are “off-line,” and will stay unavailable for rent until renovated. Mr. Mattice estimated that six of them could be made ready within two weeks.
“I have the capacity to put together a tenants association,” Ms. Cousin said. “Given the amount of complaints I’ve been getting, I feel the people have to have a platform” where they can share concerns.
“We have gone through a few efforts” to get a tenants association, Mr. Mattice said. The most recent was headed by Commissioner Robert Davis, who lives in Bliss, but was suspended because of the pandemic.
“There is interest on the board in strengthening the tenants association,” said Ms. Balle.