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Bliss poised to start all over again


HUDSON—Concerns raised by residents of Bliss Tower and Columbia Apartments dominated the late winter meetings of the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) Board of Commissioners.

The HHA runs the buildings, which together contain 135 income-restricted units. Now that may be about to change with the HHA’s redevelopment vision. The vision will probably include demolishing the buildings and rehousing the residents. But as long as the buildings are standing, “We want it decent for the people who live there now,” a resident told The Columbia Paper on March 21.

At HHA meetings February 27 and March 20, HHA Executive Director Jeffrey Dodson, and Mary Decker, a commissioner who lives in Bliss, recounted what residents had told them at earlier get-togethers and how Mr. Dodson replied.

Resident questions, suggestions, and concerns covered a wide range, including: Apartment repairs, hall cleaning, asbestos abatement and apartment painting. Mr. Dodson responded that work orders for apartment repairs should be submitted to the HHA office, and that the hallway floor is cleaned regularly. Apartment painting, however, is on hold, “as we move toward development.”

Checking regularly on elderly residents is great idea, Mr. Dodson said, and sometimes the HHA office checks on certain people at the request of their significant others. “But we are a neighborhood, a community, and people check on each other.”

Bliss tower has two elevators for its residents: one big, the other smaller. The elevators work, break down, get fixed, work, and the pattern repeats. Several past meetings covered various proposals to renovate the elevators. Mr. Dodson has spoken with elevator companies several times. But on March 20, the big elevator had been down for a prolonged period. An emergency medical team had trouble bringing a person down from an apartment, because its stretcher goes best in the big elevator. And when the big elevator is down, Mr. Dodson said, “We can’t get the cleaning machine up” to clean the hall floors.

Who monitors security when the security guard is off? If it’s an emergency, call the police; otherwise, notify the HHA office, Mr. Dodson said. Later, a resident suggested getting a security guard who does not live in Hudson and knows fewer of the people he might have to confront.

Where does the money go when tenants pay a fine to open their doors after locking themselves out? The operating budget, Mr. Dodson said.

Unauthorized cars in Bliss parking lot, some without license plates? Cars that do not belong in the parking lot will be tagged, Mr. Dodson said. “If the HHA finds out who the owners are, it will try to contact them. Otherwise the cars will be towed.

‘We are a neighborhood, a community, and people check on each other.’

Executive Director Jeffrey Dodson

Hudson Housing Authority

When a resident is caught smoking in an HHA building the first time, there is a warning; the second time the person is fined $50; subsequent times, there are more fines and addiction eviction proceedings might start, Mr. Dodson explained. Some residents claimed that some people get away with smoking undiscovered.

In addition, a resident later said, people who do not live in HHA buildings smoke marijuana in Bliss’ stairwell. The smoke and smell permeate hallways. Some residents have asthma.

Non-residents eat, leave food wrappers, and use the stairwell for a bathroom, contributing to an “ant and roach” problem the resident said, adding that other income-restricted apartments in Hudson and Greenport do not have this problem.

What about increasing the number of tenant commissioners from two to three? The board now consists of seven commissioners: two HHA building residents elected by their fellow tenants, and five appointed by the mayor of Hudson.

Where will HHA tenants live while HHA’s property is undergoing its intended redevelopment? That depends on the development plan, which will not be crafted until the HHA gets development partners. The partners will be chosen April 17 from among qualified applicants.

On March 21, a resident said the top priorities are security and the elevators. Security should step in when assaults allegedly occur, as well as stopping outsiders from coming into Bliss and misusing its stairwells. Still, the resident said, under Mr. Dodson, everything is “slowly falling into place.”

On another topic, in addition to running its own apartments, the HHA supplies Section 8 vouchers for apartments elsewhere in Hudson. Somebody who meets both the requirements for an HHA apartment and the requirements for an HHA voucher for a non-HHA apartment can be on the waiting list for both simultaneously.

In February, the board voted to increase the maximum amount the HHA is willing to pay towards the rent of non-HHA apartments for households using HHA Section 8 vouchers. As rents rise, it gets harder to find apartments in Hudson, where the HHA’s maximum contribution plus about a third of a household’s income covers the charged rent. With the higher maximum contribution, the household can take apartments with higher rents, and more apartments are available to it.

In addition, Columbia County has its own Section 8 vouchers for apartments throughout the county.

Also at the February meeting:

•Mr. Dodson announced that no new HHA tenants may bring pets until further notice, because the pet policy is under review

•Mr. Dodson reminded everyone that tenants who are behind in rent should come into the HHA office immediately and discuss their situation. Those who make arrangements within 10 days of the due date will suffer no late fee. Mr. Dodson said he has contacted those residents with the highest outstanding balances, and some have responded. He said he has also spoken to the Hudson Catskill Housing Coalition (HCHC) and Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood about the situation.

All due rent was accrued after April 18 of last year. Rent due before then was paid via the HCHC by the Spark of Hudson, in May 2022.

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