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Tenants need a true voice

October 4, 2019 07:55 pm

On Wednesday, Hop-O-Nose tenants voiced their concerns to the Catskill Housing Authority board after last week’s meeting had to be rescheduled. But the main concern was the nebulous role of the board when it comes to matters of grievances, evictions and the overall condition of the creekside federal housing complex.

Most of the job is policymaking and prioritizing items in the budget. Well and good there, but the board as a whole seems to be uncertain about what its duties and responsibilities are. That’s no way to run a railroad — or a housing development funded by big federal dollars.

The board isn’t even allowed to call meetings to hear tenant grievances, according to board member Patrick McCulloch.

“The last time we held one of these meetings was two years ago,” McCulloch said. “We were told that’s not our job.”

Huh? If listening to grievances is not the board’s job, what is?

Members of a housing authority board should attend all board meetings and participate in discussions and decision-making, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“Board members should ensure that the organization complies with applicable laws and regulations, which includes insuring that the organization carries out its purposes and does not engage in unauthorized activities,” according to HUD.

Members should also be familiar with HUD’s rules and regulations pertaining to the Regulatory Agreement and Subsidy Contract, which includes Fair Housing Laws.

Essentially, then, HUD wants the Catskill Housing Authority board (and others, we presume) to serve as a police agency, not as men and women sympathetic to the concerns of tenants. Hudson affordable housing advocates such as 2nd Ward Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga are supporting the Catskill Housing Authority and the Hop-O-Nose tenants. The tenants need a true voice and an ear to listen. Without those, they are just voices in the wilderness.