HHA looks for help with Bliss rebuild

HUDSON—The Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) has submitted a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to find partners for redeveloping its existing property and developing potential new properties. HHA residents also elected representatives to its governing Board of Commissioners, officials reported at meetings October 17 and November 21.

The HHA runs the 135-unit income-restricted Bliss Tower high-rise and three low-rise apartment buildings on its grounds. In 2021, HHA officials determined that these buildings, at 50 years old, have outlived their usefulness and need to be replaced. To do so, it needs partners to help with designing the new residences and carry on the construction.

It also needs additional land because new units could require more land than the existing ones. And before the existing buildings come down, the HHA must rehouse all of its current tenants. HHA Board Vice-Chair Clair Cousin, who is also the supervisor from Hudson’s First Ward and executive director of the Hudson Catskill Housing Coalition, assured HHA tenants on October 17 that they will “not be displaced” and that they will be able to stay in Hudson.

‘This is exciting. It’s one of the reasons I came to Hudson.’

Jeffrey Dodson, executive director

Hudson Housing Authority

In 2021 the HHA began drafting the RFQ. In 2022 it worked out an agreement with the Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HDCPA), securing the option to buy three specific parcels of land for new housing construction. Which and how many of these parcels the HHA will actually buy, as well as what it will do with land where its existing buildings stand, depends on the construction design it works out with the development partners it finds.

For now the HHA will pay the City of Hudson $25,000 a year to keep the option open. This payment will be credited toward the land purchase price. The arrangement is valid for one year, with the option of renewing it for another year twice, said the HHA attorney Brian Lawlor on October 17.

The three pertinent parcels are on State Street across from HHA’s current buildings and Schuyler Court on Columbia Street across Second Street from HHA’s current buildings, and across Front Street from the Chamber of Commerce building.

“This is exciting. It’s one of the reasons I came to Hudson,” said Jeffrey Dodson, HHA’s executive director since June 2022.

The HHA formally approved the agreement on October 17 and submitted the RFQ on November 3. Developers have until March 3, 2023, to respond. As of November 21, Mr. Dodson reported, there had been one response.

Also at the November 21 meeting, Mr. Dodson reported that HHA tenants had elected Mary Decker and re-elected Anthony Bennett to represent them on HHA’s Board, starting January 1, 2023. Ms. Decker’s term will be for two years; Mr. Bennett’s for one year. The tenant election took place November 10. The board has seven commissioners, two of them HHA residents elected by fellow tenants and five picked by the mayor of Hudson. Mr. Bennett has already been a commissioner since mid-2021. Ms. Decker has had served several stints as commissioner, the last one ending in 2019.

Mr. Dodson also reported that the New York State Public Housing Association of Directors will offer a $2,500 scholarship for higher education to a high school senior who lives in public housing or in a section 8 rental arrangement.

Mr. Bennett reported that the same issues that have been going on for several months are persisting. There are still questions about people who should not be there hanging out in and around Bliss Tower. And Bliss elevators still have problems.

Mr. Dodson in November reported that an elevator’s emergency phone has been repaired. In October, he reported researching what housing authorities do about their elevators, as well as frequent attempts to reach the current elevator provider.

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