Work begins on empty units at Bliss, Columbia | Colombia County
HUDSON – After evaluating 25 apartments offline, the Hudson Housing Authority has determined that seven Bliss Towers units will be ready for occupancy by the end of January.
The remaining 18 units of Bliss Towers and Columbia Apartments, all located at 41 N. 2nd St., require major repairs.
Hudson Housing Authority Commissioner Rebecca Borrer presented the results at Wednesday night’s meeting after touring the apartments with other staff and commissioners on November 30 and again on Monday. Damaged floors, ceilings and walls, broken radiators, broken tiles, damaged window frames and damaged bathrooms with gutted fixtures and accumulated rust were shown in photographs Borrer showed during the his visit to the offline units of Bliss Towers. Office storage could also be seen in some of the units.
The seven soon to be habitable Bliss Towers apartments include Apt. 202, a workshop; Apt. 602, one bedroom; and apartments. 413, 710, 711, 713 and 912, each with two chambers.
“They are ready to start work,” said Hudson Housing Authority executive director Tim Mattice. “We have all the equipment.
He expects them to be ready by the end of January.
Rents in federal housing estates such as Bliss Towers and Columbia Apartments are determined by income.
Maintenance for the seven apartments includes painting, installing laminate flooring, window treatments and deep cleaning, Borrer said.
The tiles cannot be torn apart without an additional costly service because of the asbestos underneath, Borrer said. The housing authority must use floating floors until a loan is secured for larger renovations.
“To make these apartments still habitable, you just have to put the other floors above those floors, so that’s a problem,” Borrer said.
The housing authority is working to secure a building loan for gut renovations, elevator replacement and roof repairs, said the chair of the Hudson Housing Authority board of commissioners, Marie Balle. M&T Bank representatives presented lending options earlier in the meeting and the committee is reviewing its options.
The other 12 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.
These renovations would include drywall, new appliances, water damage repair, bathroom remodeling, painting, installing laminate flooring, window treatments and deep cleaning, a- she declared.
Borrer noted the general issues she saw in Bliss Towers units during her presentation.
The windows are made of a fragile material that shatters easily, Borrer said. The Alderman of the Second Ward and Common Council Majority Leader Tiffany Garriga said residents 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 come to Columbia Memorial Hospital to receive stitches in their fingers and hands and would not report it for fear of being deported,” Garriga said.
Underfloor heating blankets, which were detached in the units Borrer visited, are not the most efficient option for heating, she said. But the housing authority is no longer installing them because they take up too much floor space, Mattice said.
Bliss Towers apartment numbers ending in “9” had sloped floors and those ending in “13” suffered water damage at the same corner, possibly due to the building’s configuration, Borrer said.
The building is made of fractured split-face rock, which retains water that can seep into the building, Borrer said. There are cracks visible on the outside of the building and the blue panels covering the old air conditioning openings allow water to seep into the apartments, she said.
Columbia’s six vacant apartments, which are low-rise buildings behind the Bliss Towers, would all require gut renovations to be habitable, which could cost between $ 80,000 and $ 100,000 per unit, Borrer said.
Broken tiles, heated floors detached from the wall, rusty bathrooms, garbage on the floor, damaged walls and a broken ceiling are shown in Borrer’s photos of the Columbia apartments.
Snow fell through a large hole in the ceiling of Apartment 1A, Borrer said of his visit on Wednesday.
Columbia Street offline apartments have more space for families than 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 chambers.
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 drafts and broken windows were regular issues in the units. Separate boilers for each apartment have created space problems and the land is not being used to its full potential overall, Borrer added.
The plywood subfloor will need to be hammered after the asbestos is removed, she said.
It may be wiser to build completely new units in their stead due to the high cost of renovating them, Balle said.
“As a board of directors, we have to ask ourselves if we had better build entirely new units? Said Balle.
The commission would need to study the idea further. The board did not have time for the conversation at Wednesday’s meeting, but will discuss it soon, she said.
Borrer’s presentation drew attention to issues that many people have heard of but not seen, Commissioner Claire Cousin said.
“For the record, none of this information would have been illuminated without the work of Revonda Smith, Alderman Tiffany Garriga and several residents who have been voicing 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 they need to make change.
“The best board for years! Joint Council Chairman Thomas DePietro wrote in the Zoom chat during Wednesday’s meeting.
Treasurer Rebecca Wolff, Smith and Borrer were reluctant to approve last month’s spending, a board task, because they were unsure of certain budget items.
While Balle preferred to approve the spending that evening and ensure that committee members were educated afterwards, the board decided to postpone the approval. The board has fiduciary responsibilities and should feel comfortable with the documents presented to them, Balle said. The board should have financial training in the future, she added.