Friday, September 25, 2009

Bliss Towers: A New Future for Residents and for Hudson

Thanks to many people, but primarily to Bill Hughes and Wanda Pertilla, a process has begun to evaluate the possibility of replacing Bliss Towers with low rise mixed use housing and a unique senior housing complex. On Thursday evening, September 24, the first of many meetings was held to describe for Tower residents what could happen with renewed interest, thanks to the administration of Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress, in expanding financial support through the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for low and moderate income housing.

A great deal was described at the first meeting about the quality of the proposed housing (rents would not change, apartments would be larger, and townhouses will have yards), and that understandable fears about displacement could be set aside since the Federal government strictly prohibits displacement when old housing is replaced with new. What is so refreshing about this possibility is the important role it can play in improving the standard of living and sense of opportunity for over 130 families in Hudson. A sound strategy for economic growth and development in Hudson, as the professionals readily say, is that a workforce that is attractive to new employers must have decent housing. You can't have one without the other.

I visited the Towers with Wanda and Bill, about six weeks ago and got a good look at the physical facility and talked to residents. It will be important for many people to get to know the Towers because HUD will want to know that the entire City supports this plan, not just the Bliss Towers residents. So it will be important for a coalition of concern to get behind this proposal, to attend the meetings that will be called once application is made by the City Housing Authority for funds to undertake the replacement. And a coalition is building. It was clear at the meeting that replacing the Towers will have the support of the Mayor Scalera and Treasurer Halloran as well as many local Democrats, Republicans, Bottom Liners, and Independents. This is all to the good. We will also have the support of Congressman Murphy. Senator Schumer is a cosponsor of an important, comprehensive bill, The Livable Communities Act, that will likely become the funding program to which we will apply. The process could take at least five years, but the journey has begun and it will be one of which we can be proud when it is completed.