Thursday, January 28, 2021

Planning for Public Housing

The Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) Board of Commissioners is planning a development project, and toward that end an Affordable Housing and Development Committee of the board has been formed to explore the options and craft a plan. The committee started its work on January 20 and continued it yesterday. Both meetings took place on Zoom. There's another meeting planned for next Wednesday, February 3, at 1:00 p.m., but after that, the meetings are moving to 5:00 p.m. in the hope that more members of the public will attend.

The committee is resolute about making the planning process a model of community engagement. At yesterday's meeting, the group mapped out a timeline that begins with a draft RFQ/RFP to be ready in March 2021 and ends with construction commencing in early spring 2022. The timeline includes opportunities for community engagement throughout the process. 

At yesterday's meeting, Tim Mattice, executive director of HHA, observed, "The biggest part of this is community engagement. We need to build a community engagement strategy." To this end, they are completely rebuilding the HHA website to make all meetings and documents accessible there, and they plan to take Michael Hofmann up on his offer to build a public information platform. There are also plans for surveys to gather community input. In the words of Rebecca Borrer, who appears to be chairing the committee, "Building out is going to be community process."

But it is yet to be determined what the project is and where it's going to be. The committee is currently considering several options and combinations of options.
  • rehabbing Bliss Towers
  • demolishing Bliss Towers and relocating tenants to new, smaller buildings constructed on the site
  • demolishing Columbia Apartments and building something new there
  • constructing new buildings, smaller than those proposed in 2018, on State Street across from Bliss Towers
Marie Balle, who chairs the HHA Board of Commissioners and is a member of the committee, told Gossips, "There may be more options, but they haven't emerged yet. Darren Scott is coming next week and he may have more to add. Another scenario may emerge as we go through the public comment period." Darren Scott is the director of development for Upstate East at NYS Homes and Community Renewal. He is expected to be in attendance at the committee's next meeting, which is to take place on Wednesday, February 3, at 1 p.m.

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