HHA taps exec with public housing in Newark

HUDSON—A new executive director, an update on an offer to pay tenant rent, and resident complaints about apartment conditions dominated the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) meeting May 16.

The Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) runs the 135-unit income-restricted Bliss residences, which consist of the highrise Bliss Tower and three low rise buildings on its grounds.

The HHA selected Jeffrey Dodson its executive director. The appointment was announced by Revonda Smith, chair of the HHA Board of Commissioners.

Mr. Dodson has been regional manager of the Newark Housing Authority for 29 years. His position will become official when a contract is worked out, probably in mid-June, said Nick Zachos, HHA interim executive director since October.

Mr. Dodson said he was looking forward to working with the HHA and suggested giving a round of applause to Mr. Zachos. Mr. Zachos told Mr. Dodson he was “excited to meet” him.

“It has been my pleasure to help,” Mr. Zachos continued and said he would be available to help if needed. Mr. Zachos, who served as Hudson youth director before serving as HHA interim executive director, said he is now hoping to start a building company called Build Hudson. It will focus on developing building skills.

Ms. Smith thanked her fellow commissioners for making themselves available to participate in interviews of candidates for executive director.

On another topic, Mr. Zachos reported that lawyers are still working on the details for an anonymous donor to pay HHA tenants’ overdue rent via the Hudson Catskill Housing Authority (HCHC). The HCHC plans to give the HHA a lump sum check, and the HHA will credit each pertinent tenant’s account the amount that tenant owed as of April 18, 2022.

Although the mechanics must still be completed, “There is no doubt this will happen,” said Mr. Zachos, adding: “This is a unique situation. We haven’t found an example from any housing authority.”

“I’ve lived here 11 years, and I’ve paid my rent,” said a man in the audience. “What do you do with my rent money?”

Most rent money goes to “big needs” and “chronic issues” like elevators, roof repair, and asbestos mitigation, Mr. Zachos explained.

The man went on to report that his apartment is in good condition, but the countertops are beginning to warp, and the apartment has “never been painted.”

Mr. Zachos suggested the man submit a work order request, with photographs of areas of concern. “You deserve an apartment that works and is in good order.” The topic of regular “cycle” painting of even occupied apartments has arisen at previous meetings.

‘You deserve an apartment that works and is in good order.’

Nick Zachos, interim exec. dir.

Hudson Housing Authority

Several residents expressed concern about Bliss Towers’ two elevators, which break down. In case neither elevator worked, Mary Decker wondered how to take someone in a wheel chair upstairs, and Ifetayo Cobbins wondered how an ambulance crew could get to higher floors. Elevator repair needs and possibilities have received attention at several meetings in the past couple of years.

Ms. Cobbins also inquired whether Bliss residents could have the option of getting certain notifications by intercom rather than cell phone. What if someone has no minutes left on their phone? What if they have no cell phone? Mr. Zachos said he would look into whether the intercom option is available.

A tenant said she has applied to move to another apartment, because her current apartment has mold in the bathroom and elsewhere. Paint has disguised some mold, but she and her roommate still have breathing problems. To move, she was put on a waiting list.

Another tenant, Leona Muhammad, was moved within Bliss Tower from one apartment to another, because her first apartment had unsealed asbestos. But the new apartment has its own problems, reported a representative of HCHC. These problems include wires coming out of ceilings and walls, mold under the paint meant to hide it, and a toilet that leaks when it flushes. Furthermore, she was promised she could go back to her old apartment in two months, but now it has been eight months. Ms. Muhammad reported the same thing in person at a previous meeting.

Mr. Zachos said, “We hope to provide newer and better apartments for everybody here, on this site, in Hudson.”

At the meeting Mr. Zachos also reported:

•To evaluate asbestos mitigation needs, Ambient Environment did a walk through Bliss, wrote a variance for the Department of Labor, and expects a turn around within two and a half weeks. Once they get the go-ahead, the HHA seek bids for containing and abating asbestos

•Based on what tenants said, the new security guard, Damien Owens, continues to be “a great success.” At night, potential troublesome incidents “have been stopped.”

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