HUDSON—With the roles of executive director and legal counsel filled for now, the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) turned its attention last month to security and mental health, among other pressing issues.
The HHA runs the 135 income-restricted Bliss apartments in Hudson. Since early in the fall the authority had been temporarily without an executive director and legal counsel. Then, in late October, the HHA’s seven-member Board of Commissioners hired Nick Zachos, the former head of Hudson’s Youth Department, and Aiesha Davie as interim co-executive directors. But after the two had worked together for about a week and a half, Mr. Zachos reported that Ms. Davie decided not to continue.
“Now I will take on the responsibilities myself,” Mr. Zachos concluded at the time.
As the sole executive director, but hired only for 20 hours a week, Mr. Zachos warned board members that he would be reaching out to them for support. And he told the board in December that his last day on the job will be April 1, 2022.
So the board’s search for a permanent executive director continues, with Mr. Zachos and the board devoting their attention to it.
“I’ve been impressed by the way the staff has operated in the absence of a director,” Mr. Zachos said.
Meanwhile the board has appointed the law firm of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP to serve as HHA legal counsel for the duration of Mr. Zachos’ tenure.
The board also approved the 2021-22 operating budget. The previous executive director, Tim Mattice, had drafted most of it over the summer, but the board had put off approving it until his successor could look it over.
Daily concerns continue. Mr. Zachos said that the issues he hears about most from HHA tenants are security and pest management. Over 75% of what he hears could relate to some aspect of mental health, he later added. HHA Board Tenant Commissioner Anthony Bennett confirmed the need for better security. “I see people roaming the halls. All types of things going on,” he said at the December online meeting. At many recent meetings, people have asked about security officers, which the Bliss apartments used to have years ago. Mr. Mattice’s budget contains money for “protective services.” But there are different ideas of what protection, security, safety, health and mental health should include.
‘I’ve been impressed by the way the staff has operated in the absence of a director.’
Interim Exec. Dir. Nick Zachos
Hudson Housing Authority
In April 2020, the board created the position of health/safety officer and appointed one of its members, Tenant Commissioner Robert Davis, to fill it. But the board formally ended that position as “redundant” last month, Mr.Zachos said.
To replace the position they must define a new position or positions, with clearly delineated duties. These are yet to be determined, nor is the question of whether there will be one or more positions, said Mr. Zachos.
Mr. Bennett also reported that a tenant complained that water from the apartment above him keeps flooding into his apartment. Mr. Zachos thanked him for bringing up the issue, said he had spent time on it that day. He noted that this is a health and safety issue.
A commissioner reported that in a survey tenants asked about having a mental health professional on site. Commissioner Claire Cousin, vice-chair of the board, recommended that the mental health professional be independent of social services department.” She envisioned a separate mental health professional working “parallel” to a security/health/safety officer. Mental health resources could be especially necessary when tenants are relocated to develop HHA land, Ms. Cousin added.
Also at the meeting:
• Commissioner Marie Balle noted that for now the HHA gets subsidies for empty apartments and wondered for how long. Mr. Zachos said he would look into that matter. About 20 of the HHA’s 135 apartments are offline pending renovations
• Mr. Zachos said he plans to hold office hours Tuesdays and Thursdays
• Ms. Cousin reported that one day the Hudson Catskill Housing Coalition had photographers come to Bliss Tower to take free family portraits of families. “The kids loved it. The place is a mess, but they had a piece of joy before the holidays.”