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Bliss OKs Catskill’s help paying overdue rents


HUDSON—The Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners voted to accept a grant from the Hudson Catskill Housing Coalition (HCHC) on behalf of its tenants, to pay overdue rent, at its meeting April 25. Other topics at that meeting included a mural proposal, the search for an executive director, and changes for tenant commissioners. The Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) runs the 135-unit income-restricted residences consisting of Bliss residential complex.

In February, the HCHC proposed to pay overdue rent for HHA tenants. Since then, the HHA, the HCHC, and lawyers have been discussing this matter. Now, both the HCHC and the HHA have provided enough information to bring the payment even closer to happening, HHA Interim Executive Director Nick Zachos reported at the April 25 meeting.

The HCHC will give money to a law office, which will credit the money to the pertinent tenants’ accounts, explained Brian Lawlor, HHA’s legal council. With enough details in place, the HHA Board voted to accept the grant. HHA Board Vice-Chair Claire Cousin abstained, because she is also Executive Director of the HCHC Board.)

“This is very exciting on behalf of our tenants,” Mr. Zachos said.

On another matter, two artists and a teacher presented a proposal for a new mural on the wall of the handball court across State Street from Bliss Tower. The teacher, Bridget Smith, instructs Enrichment Expanded Learning Time for fourth and fifth graders at Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School. She plans to have them create pictures and recordings based on interviews of key Hudson residents, who told what they like about the city of Hudson and hope for its future.

For each picture, the recordings will include the associated interview, mixed with sounds such as music and playing children. Artists Louise Smith and Victoria Emanuela are to help the students. Based on the students’ creations, under the proposal, local artists are to paint the mural on the wall. Electronic material that can activate cell phones to play the recordings will be embedded in the mural. The artists may leave part of the wall blank, to enable community members to add their own art.

An intended audience are the many drivers who pass it every day. It is a heavy-traffic area, the teachers said. But people who pause at the mural can scan their cell phones over the mural and hear the recording.

Ms. Cousin restated her proposal for a beautification day, where people plant flowers and paint the playgrounds on Bliss property. Now she suggested combining that day with the unveiling of the mural, hoped for in late June.

On another topic, the HHA has information on four candidates for permanent executive director from a search firm. The firm wants to set up interviews for April 28, announced Revonda Smith, chair of the HHA Board. She asked other board members their time availability for that date. Accordingly, Mr. Zachos announced he had changed his last day as Interim Executive Director from April 29 to two weeks after the hiring of the permanent executive director.

The board also agreed to change when HHA tenants elect their representatives to the board and to pay these representatives a stipend. The law requires the Board to include two HHA resident tenants, elected by their fellow tenants, for two-year terms. These two are called tenant commissioners. However, as of April 25, the Board has only one tenant commissioner, Anthony Bennett, elected last December.

The Board decided to hold another election for tenant commissioner in July. In addition, it decided to pay the new tenant commissioners a stipend of about $160 a month. To “be fair and start fresh,” Mr. Zachos said, Mr. Bennett will have to run again, if he wants to stay on the board.

Mr. Lawlor explained that the candidate who gets the most votes in July will serve a two-year term. The one who gets the second most votes will serve for one year, until 2023. But the person elected in 2023 will serve a two-year term, until 2025. From 2023 on, one tenant commissioner’s terms will begin in odd years and the other’s will begin in even years. Starting this year, tenant commissioner election month has changed from December to July.

Ms. Smith foresaw efforts to drum up tenant participation in the elections. Mr. Bennett voiced concern about collecting enough petition signatures to run (again) and whether enough people would come to “meet the candidate” events.

In total, the HHA Board has room for seven commissioners. As of April 25, it has only five.

Also at the meeting:

•Robert Michel, an HHA tenant, reported said that he has been able to “sleep at night” since Daniel Owens became security guard earlier in April. Before he started, he would hear trouble going on at night, but now things are “much better”

•Some board members attended the meeting in person, some remotely. One remote participant had trouble connecting by the recommended method and had to connect by another way

•The Board authorized Mr. Zachos to negotiate an extension of the agreement with the law firm of Whiteman Osterman and Hanna LLP from May 1 to November 1.

The next meeting of the HHA Board will take place Monday, May 16, at 6:00 pm in the Bliss community room.

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