HUDSON — After assessing 25 offline apartments, the Hudson Housing Authority determined seven Bliss Towers units will be ready for occupancy by the end of January.
The other 18 units in Bliss Towers and Columbia Apartments, all at 41 N. 2nd St., require significant repairs.
Hudson Housing Authority Commissioner Rebecca Borrer showed the findings at the Wednesday night meeting after visiting the apartments with other staff and commissioners Nov. 30 and again Monday. Damaged floors, ceilings and walls, broken heaters, broken tiles, damaged window frames and damaged bathrooms with gutted appliances and built-up rust were displayed in photographs Borrer presented from her visit to offline Bliss Towers units. Office storage could also been seen in some of the units.
The seven soon-to-be-habitable Bliss Towers apartments include Apt. 202, a studio; Apt. 602, a one-bedroom; and Apts. 413, 710, 711, 713 and 912, each with two bedrooms.
“They’re prepared to start the work,” Hudson Housing Authority Executive Director Tim Mattice said. “We have all the materials.”
He expects them to be ready by the end of January.
Rents in federal housing developments such as Bliss Towers and Columbia Apartments are income driven.
Maintenance for the seven apartments include painting, floating floor installation, window treatment and deep cleaning, Borrer said.
The tiles can’t be ripped up without an additional costly service because of asbestos underneath, Borrer said. The housing authority must utilize floating floors until a loan is secured for larger renovations.
“In order to make these apartments even habitable you just have to put the other floors on top of these floors, so that’s an issue,” Borrer said.
The housing authority is working on securing a construction loan for gut renovations, elevator replacement and roof repairs, Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Marie Balle said. M&T Bank representatives presented loan options earlier in the meeting and the commission is considering its options.
The 12 other offline Bliss Tower apartments, which consist of a studio, six three-bedroom apartments; two one-bedroom apartments and three two-bedroom apartments will need gut renovations that could cost around $50,000 each, Borrer said.
Those renovations would include drywall, new appliances, water damage repair, bathroom renovations, painting, floating floor installation, window treatments and deep cleaning, she said.
Borrer noted overall issues she saw in Bliss Towers units during her presentation.
The windows are made from a fragile material that breaks easily, Borrer said. Second Ward Alderwoman and Common Council Majority Leader Tiffany Garriga said residents have cut their hands on the material. Other public housing buildings in the state have metal window frames, Garriga said.
“I can’t even tell you how many residents have been to Columbia Memorial Hospital to receive stitches in their fingers and their hands and would not report it because of fear of eviction,” Garriga said.
Floorboard heating covers, which were detached in units Borrer visited, are not the most effective option for heating, she said. But the housing authority does not install those anymore because they take up too much floor space, Mattice said.
Bliss Towers apartment numbers ending in “9” had slanted floors and ones ending in “13” have water damage on the same corner likely due to the building’s configuration, Borrer said.
The building is made from fractured split-face rock, which retains water that can seep into the building, Borrer said. There are visible cracks on the outside of the building and the blue panels that cover old air conditioning openings allow water to leak into apartments, she said.
The six vacant Columbia Apartments, which are low-rise buildings located behind Bliss Towers, would all require gut renovations to be habitable, which could cost $80,000-$100,000 per unit, Borrer said.
Broken tiles, a floorboard heater detached from the wall, rusty bathrooms, trash on the floor, damaged walls and a broken ceiling are shown in Borrer’s photos from the Columbia Apartments.
Snow came down through a large hole in the ceiling of Apartment 1A, Borrer said of her visit Wednesday.
The offline Columbia Street apartments have more space for families than the Bliss Towers units, as Apt. 2E and 2B have three bedrooms, Apt. 2D and 1C have four bedrooms and Apt. 1A and 2A have five bedrooms.
The Columbia Street apartments had asbestos under the floor tiles and likely in the glue used to place the tiles, Borrer said. Lead is also present in the apartments.
Additionally, broken or off-grid electrical outlets, plumbing issues and drafty and broken windows were regular issues in the units. Separate boilers for each apartment created space issues and the land is not being used to its full potential overall, Borrer added.
Plywood subflooring will need to be hammered in after asbestos remediation, she said.
It may be wiser to build completely new units in their place because of the high price tag for renovating them, Balle said.
“As a board we have to ask ourselves, would we be better off building entirely new units?” Balle said.
The commission would need to discuss the idea further. The board did not have time for the conversation at Wednesday’s meeting, but will discuss soon, she said.
Borrer’s presentation brought attention to issues many people have heard about but haven’t seen, Commissioner Claire Cousin said.
“For the record, none of this information would have been illuminated without the work of Revonda Smith, Alderperson Tiffany Garriga and multiple residents that have been expressing these issues for years,” Borrer said Thursday.
Quintin Cross of Hudson Catskill/Housing Coalition encouraged the housing authority to work with other community groups to ensure they have the support needed to make change.
“The best Board in years!” Common Council President Thomas DePietro wrote in the Zoom chat during Wednesday’s meeting.
Treasurer Rebecca Wolff, Smith and Borrer were reluctant to approve the past month’s expenditures, a task of the board, because they were uncertain about specific line items.
While Balle preferred to approve the spending that night and ensure members of the commission are educated afterwards, the board decided to postpone the approval. The board has fiduciary responsibilities and should feel comfortable with documents presented to them, Balle said. The board should have some financial training moving forward, she added.