At the monthly meeting of the board of the Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency (HCDPA) on Thursday, board member Tiffany Garriga brought up the letter Congressman John Faso had written to the HUD secretary Ben Carson, calling his attention to the living conditions at Bliss Towers, which he said "have deteriorated well beyond livable." The letter was the outcome of a tour of the apartment building Faso and Mayor Rick Rector had taken with Garriga in January. Garriga told the board that Faso has assured her he is "staying on top of HUD." She said she has heard from other elected officials who want to help.
Alan Weaver, chair of the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) board of commissioners, which oversees Bliss Towers, who also serves on the HCDPA board, told Garriga that Timothy Mattice, who took over as executive director of HHA in September 2017, had done a reassessment of the entire building, resulting in a 47-page report. He said the problems in individual apartments had been resolved, but buildingwide issues were still to be addressed. He chided Garriga for bringing Spectrum News into the building without informing Mattice.
Weaver spoke briefly about the "RAD conversion" of Bliss Towers. RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration) is a HUD program created to allow public housing authorities to work with developers and to borrow money to make capital improvements to public housing. In December, Mattice told the Housing Task Force that HHA was looking for a developer to "rebuild new public housing or rehabilitate what is." On Thursday, Weaver reported that an RFP (request for proposals) for such a developer had been released, and they expected proposals to be submitted by developers at the end of March.
After the HCDPA board meeting on Thursday, Garriga, in a conversation with Gossips, alleged that nothing has been done to address the problems at Bliss Towers. She stressed that, in an inspection of the building, Bliss Towers had scored 14 out of a possible 100. She acknowledged that the lobby has been repainted, "so it looks like the entrance to a hotel," but insisted the problems that make the living conditions in Bliss Towers unacceptable persist. Garriga plans to introduce a resolution in the Common Council to "do away with the entire board" of HHA. The HHA board has seven members--two elected by the residents of Bliss Towers; five appointed by the mayor. Those currently serving on the board are Weaver (chair), Barbara Hall, Mary Decker, Tracy Brown, Randall Martin, Anthony Pastel, and Peggy Polenberg.
The next meeting of the HHA board takes place on Wednesday, March 14, at 6 p.m., in the community room at Bliss Towers. The Common Council Housing & Transportation Committee, which is chaired by Garriga, is scheduled to meet for the first time at 6:45 p.m. that same evening in City Hall.
Gossips Note: The board of HCDPA is made up of five members, all of whom serve ex officio: the mayor, Rick Rector; the Common Council majority leader, Tiffany Garriga; the Common Council minority leader, Eileen Halloran; the chair of the Planning Board, Walter Chatham; the chair of the Hudson Housing Authority board of commissioners, Alan Weaver.
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