Faso Sends Letter to HUD Secretary Carson Regarding Bliss Towers’ ‘Deplorable Living Conditions’
Washington D.C. – Congressman John Faso (R-Kinderhook) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson regarding deplorable living conditions at Bliss Towers in Hudson, NY.
Congressman Faso recently took an unannounced visit to Bliss Towers to witness the living conditions and general condition of the facility. Bliss Towers consists of 135 residential units and is home to at-risk residents who have little access to proper recourse in response to health and safety deficiencies in the building.
“The living conditions at Bliss Towers are completely unacceptable,” said Faso. “What I saw during a recent visit combined with reading the recent inspection reports made it clear that Bliss Towers needs immediate intervention from HUD. By bringing this to the attention of Secretary Carson, it is my hope that immediate progress will be made and HUD’s regional office in Buffalo will step up to the plate in order to solve this problem.”
“I am very appreciative of any and all efforts being made to address the needs of Bliss Tower to ensure that the residents are provided a safe and quality place to reside.” – Rick Rector, Mayor, City of Hudson
“Bliss Towers has been neglected for far too long and needs immediate intervention from the federal level. Bliss Towers can be saved all nine floors and the low-rise Apartment Homes, funding is needed. I thank Congressman Faso for elevating this issue to the Secretary level at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The residents of Bliss Towers deserve far better and HUD needs to account for how Bliss Towers were allowed to get to this point and how HUD can help to correct these conditions.” – Tiffany Garriga, Alderman, 2nd Ward
“Bliss Towers is past the point of needing significant rehabilitation. A recent inspection graded the facility as a 14 out of 100 and found numerous deficiencies that are considered life-threatening. As the new executive director, the housing authority is doing the best it can to address the substandard conditions despite HUD Buffalo’s lack of accountability with this ongoing problem. Thank you to Congressman Faso for involving the Secretary of HUD and I am hopeful this brings positive change for not only Bliss Towers, but for all housing authorities struggling with HUD Buffalo’s lack of oversight.” – Tim Mattice, Executive Director, Hudson Housing Authority
A signed copy of the letter can be found here.
The full letter is below:
The Honorable Ben Carson
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20410
Dear Secretary Carson,
Living conditions at the Hudson Housing Authority’s (HHA) Bliss Towers project have deteriorated well beyond livable. HUD is aware of this building’s many issues, yet the situation continues to worsen on the agency’s watch.
On August 11, 2017, HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) conducted a physical inspection of HHA’s five buildings including Bliss Towers, which occurred nearly eight months after HUD had decided the site needed a visit. I have attached for you the inspection report, which reviewed 23 of HHA’s 135 residential units. In this sample size, HHA received a 54/100 failing grade marked by 35 health and safety deficiencies, of which 13 are considered life threatening. It was projected that if the entire building were inspected, the review would have resulted in 153 health and safety deficiencies. An additional in-depth inspection contracted by HHA with The Inspection Group, Inc. yielded a 14 out of 100 score for the property.
I recently visited this housing facility and witnessed for myself vulnerable citizens living in an exceedingly unsafe and uninhabitable environment. My staff and I have been in contact with HUD representatives from your Buffalo Field Office, but it is still unclear how HHA’s condition was permitted to get to this state. Moreover, I am concerned that the regional HUD representatives have not responded appropriately to the deplorable conditions at HHA. For example, when I spoke to HUD representatives in January, Bliss Towers still had not been inspected by a HUD engineer. Following this conversation, HUD notified my office on February 15 that the agency would not be sending an engineer. In addition, it is my understanding that recent emails by HHA’s new Executive Director, Tim Mattice have gone unanswered.
It is unacceptable that Bliss Towers has been allowed to reach its current state and continues to decline each day. I have spoken directly with Executive Director Mattice and have learned that he has already reached out to HUD with detailed information on HHA’s urgent problems as well as a request for HUD to conduct an entity-wide audit of HHA’s financials, tenant files, procurement, and use of public housing funds over the last three years. I urge HUD to fulfill this audit request to help HHA operate in full compliance of federal regulations.
In addition to an audit, I also request a meeting with you to personally discuss conditions at Bliss Towers and the unresponsiveness of the Buffalo regional office staff. I hope to work with your agency and HHA on solutions that will protect the at-risk constituents living in Bliss Towers and stabilize its operations. Please have the appropriate HUD staff reach out to my Chief of Staff, John Billings (202-225-5614) so that we can arrange a meeting and work together to address this urgent matter. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
John J. Faso
Member of Congress
Washington, DC Office
1616 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5614
Fax: (202) 225-1168
Delhi District Office
111 Main Street
Delhi, NY 13753
Phone: (607) 746-9537
Kinderhook District Office
2 Hudson Street
Kinderhook, NY 12106
Phone: (518) 610-8133
Kingston District Office
Kingston, NY 12401
Phone: (845) 514-2322