HUDSON—New officers, a tenant survey, future construction and current upgrades were among the matters before the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners at the board’s March 10 meeting.
The Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) runs the 135-unit income-restricted housing complex in Hudson. It consists of Bliss Tower (120 units) and Columbia Apartments (15 units in three low-rise buildings).
Marie Balle has relinquished her position as chair of the board, though she is staying on as a board member. Revonda Smith moved up from vice chair to chair, with Claire Cousin becoming the new vice chair.
Ms. Balle said that she wanted to focus on the development of HHA property and this would have left her too little time for the chair’s other duties. She said Ms. Smith would make a good head of the board, adding, “We must always refresh leadership.” It was Ms. Balle who nominated Ms. Smith to succeed her.
Ms. Smith joined the board in spring 2020 and became vice chair in October. She is the Democrats’ Voting Machine/HAVA Specialist for the Columbia County Board of Elections.
Ms. Cousin joined the board in September 2020. She is both president of the Hudson Catskill Housing Coalition and a teaching assistant at Devereaux.
Of the board’s seven members, the only two who joined before 2020 are Ms. Balle and Tenant Commissioner Robert Davis.
Exploring the possibility of developing the HHA’s property could mean rehabilitating or rebuilding Bliss Tower, rebuilding Columbia Apartments, and possibly erecting new buildings on more HHA land.
To help decide what options to pursue, the HHA is preparing a survey for its tenants, asking them what they want.
‘We must always refresh leadership.’
Marie Balle, former president
Hudson Housing Authority
“The main thing is so people don’t feel they’re wasting time filling out the survey” and that their responses will not affect the HHA’s decisions,” said Tiffany Garriga, alderwoman from Hudson’s 2nd Ward, where Bliss is located. In addition, “We need to assure people that their homes will not be taken away,” she said.
Somebody suggested including the question, “How many bedrooms do you need?” instead of “What kind of housing do you want?”
There was also a suggestion that there should be at least two surveys: one to determine what to construct, and later ones about details such as laundry and murals.
Ms. Cousin said that in addition to the survey, she envisioned conversations with tenants. In the survey and meetings, Ms. Cousin advised, “We don’t want to seem as if we’re pushing one option or another.”
But at the meeting participants shared their opinions with each other.
Ms. Cousin said Bliss Tower is in “deplorable condition. It’s not safe.”
“I grew up in Bliss,” said Ms. Smith. But she said the building is sinking into the ground and is “filled with asbestos. It’s time to say goodbye.”
“Bliss Tower is like a good tooth that needs a filling,” said Ms. Garriga. “You don’t want to remove the whole tooth.”
Commissioner Rebecca Wolff said the “outer skin” of Bliss should be replaced. And HHA Executive Director Tim Mattice said the building’s outer cladding absorbs too much water.
Despite the prospect of new housing, the HHA continues to rehabilitate, repair, cycle paint and accept tenants for the existing structures.
Of interest are 31 apartments, the roof, and the elevator in Bliss Tower. The 31 apartments include: six on-line units that tenants recently vacated, six off-line units that would be relatively easy to rehabilitate, and 19 off-line units that will be harder to make habitable. The first two groups are all in Bliss Tower; the third consists of 13 units in Bliss Tower and six in Columbia Apartments.
The in-house staff is working to get the six on-line apartments ready for new tenants, Mr. Mattice reported. Some have already been leased, and more should be leased by April 1.
Of the six easily repaired off-line apartments, “We have secured an asbestos contractor,” set a date for removal and arranged for a building crew to come in the next day, Mr. Mattice announced. “I’d like to think they’ll be complete by the end of the month, but I hesitate to put a deadline. I’m at the mercy of the contractors,” he said.
Ms. Garriga said that when she lived in Bliss years ago and the roof leaked, tenants just “dealt with it” without complaining.
Mr. Mattice reported that Bliss roof had a clogged drain pipe that was cleaned this year.
Both the elevator and the roof of Bliss Tower have had patch jobs, and both need total replacement. A new roof would cost $250,000; Ms. Smith said a new elevator would cost $500,000.
Ms. Balle said, “We can’t move ahead with the roof replacement until we decide how to move forward with loans.” She also questioned whether new elevators would soon be totally rebuilt. Mr. Mattice said that Otis Elevator would see if it is possible to do a “pared down modernization” for less money.
On another matter, Mr. Davis said, “I hate to sound like a broken record,” but people are still complaining to him about youths in the Bliss stairway. Tenants complain about smelling marijuana from the stairway. Maintenance men are cleaning up pizza cartons and soda cans in it. In addition, the “same kids” use the laundry room shopping carts for sitting and racing.
The board agreed to lock the stairways but let Bliss residents open them with fob keys.
The next full HHA Board meeting will take place Wednesday April 14 at 6 p.m.