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Bliss tenants welcome arrival of security guard


HUDSON—The Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) has hired Damien Owens to be its first security guard in several years. The announcement was made by Interim Executive Director Nick Zachos at the HHA Board of Commissioners meeting April 18.

After just a week on the job, “We’ve had great feedback” from HHA residents about Mr. Owens, Mr. Zachos added. “People like having him there.”

The HHA runs the 135-unit income-restricted Bliss Tower and Columbia Apartments in Hudson.

Mr. Owens once did security work in Washington, DC. Now he lives in a HHA apartment, and he was on HHA’s maintenance staff, until HHA promoted him to security guard effective last week. He is in the process of obtaining his New York State Security Guard license, Mr. Zachos reported.

The desire of some HHA tenants for a security professional has come up at several recent HHA meetings.

Mr. Owens is at his post daily from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. “Historically, four o’clock for has been the worst time for us,” Mr. Zachos said. “People hang around waiting for the office staff to leave before doing what they were planning to do. HHA is happy to have a security guard on duty at that hour.”

Already, Mr. Zachos reported, Mr. Owens may have thwarted some potential trespassing.

‘People like having him there.’

Interim Exec. Dir. Nick Zachos

Hudson Housing Authority

Also at the meeting:

•Mr. Zachos reported that the Hudson Catskill Housing Coalition’s offer to pay HHA tenants’ overdue rent “is getting closer and closer” to happening. The parties are discussing the matter with lawyers

•Revonda Smith, chair of the Board of Commissioners, reported that the search firm of Gans, Gans, and Associates is about to give the HHA a list of candidates for executive director. As of now, Mr. Zachos’ last day at HHA will be April 29, she said.

To prepare the recruitment material, Ms. Smith continued, an employee of Gans, Gans did research on Hudson, reported that she fell in love with the city and said she was tempted to take the job herself because of Hudson

•Ambient Environmental has completed its inspection of 12 Bliss Tower apartments with known asbestos issues, Mr. Zachos reported. Ambient has determined that in seven of these apartments the asbestos danger can be removed by simple containment. The other five apartments need full abatement, which requires gutting

•The Bliss community room will be unlocked and open during the main office hours, “as a result of community input,” Mr. Zachos reported

•Claire Cousin, vice chair of the HHA Board and supervisor of Hudson’s First Ward, suggested having a community day on HHA grounds, for people to paint the playground and plant flowers. Reasons include improving the appearance, giving residents something to be proud of, and making sure “kids have some place to play that’s safe”

•Brian Lawlor, HHA’s attorney, reported that the law requires housing authorities like the HHA to have two tenant commissioners who live in the authority’s buildings, and are elected by their fellow residents. Each commissioner’s term must last two years. Each tenant commissioner is to receive a stipend of $2,000 a year, paid in monthly installments. The stipend will count as income for many purposes but not when determining eligibility for living in an HHA apartment.

Preferred but not required is that the two tenant commissioners’ terms are “staggered,” with one term starting in even years and the other in odd years.

The Board agreed to consider how this information might change HHA elections for its two tenant commissioners.

It also discussed how to increase tenant participation in these elections. Suggestions included holding a candidates forum and assuring it will be easy to vote by several methods.

Because of on-going issues, the HHA Board scheduled its next meeting Monday, April 25 at 5 p.m. in the Bliss community room.

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