Bliss releases name of back rent donor

HUDSON—The rent donor, the governing board, and elevators and various other issues came up at the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) meeting August 15. The HHA runs the 135-unit income-restricted Bliss Tower high-rise plus the three low-rises on its grounds.

In May the HHA received $65,085.44 to pay the back rent of its tenants as of April 18, 2022. The money came from the Hudson Catskill Housing Coalition, which got it from a source that at the wanted to be anonymous. Now the donor no longer wants to remain anonymous, HHA Executive Director Jeffrey Dodson announced, and revealed its name: The Spark of Hudson.

The Spark of Hudson defines itself as an “educational learning space and home to non-profits.”  It also funds the HudsonUP program, which gives selected people a Universal Basic Income of $500 a month.

(This year, 53 individuals will be chosen, and the deadline for applying is September 22.)

On another topic, Nick Zachos, who served the HHA as interim executive director from October to June, showed up as a new member of the Board of Commissioners, which governs the HHA under auspices of the HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). Mr. Zachos also was Hudson’s youth director and is now starting a building company.

The HHA Board has room for seven commissioners. But since April it had only five. Mr. Zachos makes it six. The seventh member will be chosen with the HHA tenant election, which Mr. Dodson announced will take place November 11.

On the Board, two commissioners must be HHA tenants, and their fellow tenants elect them. The Mayor of Hudson appoints the other five commissioners.  The longest-serving board member is now Rebecca Wolff, who started in January 2020.

Right now the board has only one tenant commissioner, Anthony Bennett. In the November election,  Mr. Dodson said, the candidate who gets the most votes will have the opportunity to serve as a tenant commissioner for two years, and the one who gets the second most votes will have the opportunity to serve in the same position for one year.

Throughout the meeting, Bliss residents called attention to various issues.

“When is the elevator going to be fixed?” asked Mary Decker. “This is the fourth time it’s broken down in the past few weeks.”

“It’s unacceptable” to have to take a chance on getting stuck every time you step into the elevator,  said Mr. Bennett.

People “wait forever for an elevator,” another resident said. And when it finally comes, said Mr. Bennett, it has so many people that they bunch close together.  The weight of all the people can in itself cause breakdowns, said a resident.

Some people live only a few floors up and are able and willing to use the stairs.

The Spark of Hudson also funds the HudsonUP program, which gives selected applicants Universal Basic Incomes of $500 a month.

“Even if it means needing more security, can’t the stairs be open, so fewer people will wait for an elevator that might break down?” someone asked. The door to the stairs should be open at least when the office is open, recommended another.

“I’m aware when folks are trapped in elevators,” Mr. Dodson said. “It’s unacceptable to me, but my staff can’t fix it.  I have requested quotes from three companies on what it would cost” to fix the situation.

Repairing or replacing the elevators has been discussed at several HHA meetings over the past couple of years.

Also at the meeting, Mr. Bennett reported “people in the stairwell again”; one of his predecessors on the board frequently reported non-HHA residents hanging out in Bliss stairwells.

In other business, three residents reported:

•A neighbor’s “smelly dog” doing no good for a tenant’s breathing-related health issues

•Dog “stench… seeping into a bathroom

•Having to use incense to cover dog smells

•Dog hairs in the laundry

•No one’s “picking up” after a neighbor’s dog

•One tenant said that when she moved into Bliss years ago, she had to go through a complicated procedure to get her little chihuahua in.  Now she has no dog, but people appear to be bringing in big dogs too easily. “When did the rule for dogs change?” she asked

•Mr. Bennett reported smoking in the building (forbidden since mid- 2018). And a resident reported that the lobby intercom does not work.  Mr. Dodson said a repair company was already slated to come about it

•Mr. Dodson reported that work “to seek out a partner for redevelopment,” started last year under a previous director, is continuing. The HHA is also talking with the city of Hudson about acquiring land “so we can develop something better.”  Over the past years, HHA boards and executive directors have considered reconstruction schemes, both with and without replacing the current buildings.

“The HHA is a force to be reckoned with,” said Mr. Dodson. “We want people to do business with us.  We are part of the community.”

On September 15 Mr. Dodson said he plans to hold a tenant meeting, the first of what he hopes will be gatherings that take place every two or three months.

The next meeting of the HHA Board of Commissioners will take place Monday, September 19, at 6 p.m.

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