HUDSON-Apartment openings, emergency grant use, Hudson’s Affordable Housing Strategic Initiative and elevators are all topics that received attention at the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) meeting June 10. The HHA runs the 135-unit, income-restricted Bliss complex in Hudson and a Section 8 program for housing elsewhere in that city. This report is based on an audio recording of the meeting.
Twenty-five Bliss apartments are currently empty, but all should be ready to rent by September, reported HHA Executive Director Tim Mattice. Three of them have always been vacant and used for purposes such as storage, but HHA has “decided to rent them out.” The others went “off line” because of damage their last occupants caused, Mr. Mattice said. Of the 25 units, HHA has already rehabilitated seven for $140,000. It will get an additional $117,000 for apartment rehabilitation as one reward for converting to RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration) status earlier this year.
Addressing another matter, Mr. Mattice announced, “We have not have one case of Covid-19 in our building. This is great.” He attributed the good news to the hard work of staff, saying, “I’m drafting a long term Covid emergency plan. Maintenance and administrative staff will continue to wear face masks,” he said, and employees will be taking the temperature of people who come into the building seeking to lease a unit.
The HHA received $39,000 from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as part of an emergency grant to public housing for dealing with the Covid-9 crisis. Of this, the HHA has already spent $5,000, with $3,600 used for “hazard pay” for staff working during the crisis and the rest for necessary equipment. Of the remaining $34,000, upon Mr. Mattice’s recommendation, HHA’s Board of Commissioners voted to spend up to $4,500 to buy an extra freezer and tables for the food pantry that has an office in Bliss and serves residents of both Bliss and the surrounding community.
Somebody at the meeting suggested exploring the possibility of buying the freezer from a restaurant that is going out of business.
The board and Mr. Mattice also discussed possibilities for spending the remaining money. That might include the things that other public housing authorities have used emergency grant funds on, a list that includes child care, back rent and counseling services.
On another topic, the board directed the HHA to partner with other local entities to pay a consultant to advise on building and renovating affordable housing, contingent on whether the expenditure falls within HHA’s guidelines, after Board Chair Randall Martin brought up the possibility. The consultant could be hired within 30 days and is part of an Affordable Housing Strategic Initiative.
Tom DePietro, president of Hudson’s Common Council, suggested that the consultant might help coordinate the affordable housing intentions of what he called “competing” entities. He reported that the Columbia Economic Development Corporation and the Galvan Foundation have already pledged to contribute. The more entities that contribute, the less each one has to pay.
‘We have not have one case of Covid-19 in our building.’
Exec. Director Tim Mattice
Hudson Housing Authority
Mr. Martin estimated that the maximum the HHA would have to pay would be $5,000. “We want to be in the forefront in building affordable housing,” said Mr. Martin. “This is what we’re here for.”
Last November the board voted to pay $470,000 to upgrade the two elevators in Bliss Tower. The need to rebuild the elevators has become urgent, since the HHA had to take one of the elevators offline for a week, because it needed a part which had to be sent for from California, Mr. Mattice reported. The HHA is seeking a $2-million capital loan. But getting the loan will take time. Meanwhile, Mr. Mattice said that an electric company can provide a loan just for elevator repair more quickly, because the rebuilt elevators will use less energy.
If the HHA takes out that loan, it could pay it back in installments as part of its electric bill. And when the big loan comes through, the HHA can pay off the elevator loan all at once, if it wants, with no pre-payment penalty. Mr. Martin suggested a financial comparison of taking the elevator loan versus waiting for the big loan.
Also at the meeting, Mr. Mattice reported:
• One result of conversion to RAD is that the new legals status means HUD gives the HHA more “rent” above what the tenant pays for each apartment. The rents existing tenants pay stay the same
• HHA has had an unexpected expense in the fiscal year that ends June 30 in the amount of $63,000 to replace a hot water boiler.