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Former housing authority head denies rent allegations

Sep 14, 2018 7:45 am
Amanda Purcell is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media former executive director of the Hudson Housing Authority, Jeffrey First, has denied allegations that he failed to collect back rent from tenants at Bliss Towers, and caused the authority to lose $750,000 over a 15-year period. First managed the housing complex, located on Second Street in Hudson, for more than 20 years prior to his retirement in December 2016. First has filed a Freedom of Information Law request for documents and sent a letter to the housing authority following statements made members of the Board of Commissioners during a June public meeting and subsequently published in the newspaper. First is seeking documents dating back to 2003, board president Alan Weaver said September 12. First stated in the letter, “Please be advised that this exercise involves allegations that were made attacking my integrity, capability and reputation at a public meeting that were blatantly false and nonetheless published in the local newspaper without opportunity for rebuttal.” Tim Mattice, the authority's current executive director, has stated in June that rent losses averaged between $15,000 and $30,000 each year for the past 10 years. First said those claims are not true. “If it had been that much, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would have stepped in,” he said. First said his administration attempted to collect rent every month and probably took "at least" 50 tenants to court every year. He said he "probably evicted three" because he was more likely to enter a payment agreement with tenants rather than removing them. The state Comptroller's Office gave the housing authority a clean bill of health following an audit in 2015, First said. “The staff and I worked long and hard to take a run-down public housing project that even HUD was thinking about putting into receivership and turn it into a healthy thriving neighborhood,” First said. Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.