Trumbull Housing Authority
January 23, 2017
Community Room of Stern Village
Commissioners Present: Commissioners Suzanne Donofrio, Susan Fatse, Janice Kopchik
Also Present: Executive Director Harriet Polansky
Commissioners Absent: Deborah Dowd and Paul Niebuhr
The meeting was called to order at 4:06 pm by Mrs. Kopchik. Roll call was conducted followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Motion was made by Mrs. Kopchik to approve the minutes of December 28, 2016. Ms. Polansky noted two changes to the Commissioners’ names – Susan Fatse and Suzanne Donofrio. Page 1 under Unfinished Business, second to last sentence should read – “voting to elect a Tenant Commission”. All references to the State in New Business #2 should be capitalized. Seconded by Mrs. Donofrio to approve as amended. Approved unanimously.
Ms. Polansky reported in the absence of Mrs. Dowd for the six months ending December 31, 2016. Stern Village and Stern Center currently has an overall loss of approximately $11,840. This is attributable to the numerous vacancies in the Village and Center, reducing the rental income, as well as additional legal expenses, costs of advertising for the wait list openings and necessary credit checks. Currently the reserve balance is $1,519,219, which is approximately $6,843 for each unit in the entire complex.
Executive Director’s Report
Ms. Polansky noted the overall cash position as of December 31, 2016 showed a balance of $1,008,455, including the investment account. As of December 31, 2016, Accounts Payable was approximately $72,976, including the PILOT accrual for the current year.
The loss has decreased from last month. The biggest issue is the loss of rental income which will be made up. Water usage has increased as well as the fee, maintenance costs have increased due to overtime with snow, plumbing issues and rehabbing units and some additional legal fees.
Ms. Polansky noted they are off to a great start this year. Vacancies have been filled and new residents have joined the Stern Village family. Many have already moved in and have participated in activities. There are two vacancies in the Congregate. Ms. Polansky will continue to look at other projects to further improve the facility within the realm of affordability, need and security.
Several issues have been tackled and she is doing her best to prevent additional problems before they arise. Since December they have:
- Replaced a roof on one of the buildings in the village
- Started to replace the subfloors as deemed unsafe
- Looked at several potential contractors for the heat pumps at Stern Village, looking at the electric panels and units. Jeff Holt (Manager) has answered several questions. The information for bidding on the heat pumps is on the Town’s website.
- Started to compile the necessary documents and associated costs to apply for SSHP 2017 for the Congregate and 2017 Small Cities Application.
- Worked on implementing a new lease for the Village and Congregate when tenant recertifications are conducted in March. A draft lease has been reviewed with approximately 50 residents at 2 separate meetings and they had positive feedback.
No unfinished business.
- Ms. Polansky noted the Town is applying for the 2017 Small Cities Grant for Stern Village. They are looking at $800,000 to be used to replace the windows. Ms. Polansky is working with UI to offset some of the cost through incentives. George Wiles, from Wiles Architects, is working on this initiative as he has been involved with the project from the beginning. Mr. Wiles spoke on improving the building envelope to include changes in the energy codes implemented in October 2016 noting that any window over 5-7 years in age is not up-to-date according to code. The windows in the complex are much older and they will be replaced with high efficiency windows which will improve thermal performance. He reviewed the replacement procedure and the scope of his firm with regard to the installation. 905 windows are planned to be replaced. Mr. Wiles will provide information to UI as the scope of work needs to be described in the RFP. Ms. Polansky noted the DOH requires different on-site visits which makes the architectural firm a part of the project.
After discussion, Mrs. Kopchik motioned to approve Wiles & Architects to provide constructions, bid documents and construction administration services for the replacement of all exterior windows in 186 units of Stern Village. Seconded by Mrs. Fatse and approved.
Stern Village Resident Association Update
Mrs. Fisher noted there will be an election to fill a vacant position on the Association Board. This will be in held in February and supervised by Kim. Nominees will not be held to the prior list but will include any resident who wishes to submit their names.
The Board will need to devise a plan for others to report to the THA Commission in the absence of the elected official. It was suggested by Mrs. Donofrio that the Association plan on making a report at all Commission meetings whether by the elected official or a stand-in.
Paul Littlefield read the following statement: “With all due respect, let it be spread on the minutes of this meeting that the Stern Village Tenants’ Association, Inc. strongly urges this Board stop the installation of mini split heat pumps in the apartments of Stern Village to replace the efficient electric-resistance baseboard heating and window AC units, out of concern for the safety and wellbeing of elderly leaseholders.
Consider that the large body of objectively based studies, including the Eversource electric company, conclusively demonstrates that heat pumps are not a safe alternative for use in elderly housing as they fail to adequately heat the apartments. They create drafts and they are not dependable.
Heat pumps are notorious for their inadequate production of heating and cooling, when heating and cooling are needed the most. The literature states that when the outside temperature drops below 25 degrees F, the heat pumps fail to maintain adequate heat for elderly tenants. Heat pumps fail to adequately distribute sufficient heating to the bathrooms.
An architect and an engineer were hired but you failed to get a consultant in gerontology, one who specializes in the knowledge of the elderly. Installing heat pumps will but the elderly tenants at risk.
Heat pumps are high tech and high maintenance. They need to be cleared of ice and snow to function. Can you see an elderly heart patient going out in a snow storm to clear off the snow and ice? The costs to maintain and service heat pumps will not be cheap and will add to the pressures for rent increases.
This Board and the First Selectman have a duty to do due diligence. You need to do your homework and, if you do, you will find out that the installation of heat pumps will not accomplish what you intend and that they will have the unintended consequences of putting the elderly leaseholders at risk. It is your obligation and responsibility to provide decent, safe and sanitary facilities. Considerable time has been put into research and we leave with you a token of such research from Eversource and the Cold Climate Housing Research Center. Respectfully, Paul Littlefield”. Mr. Littlefield provided additional information to the Commissioners to review.
Sandra Fisher – stated she understands the current heating system will remain in the event of a failure of the heat pumps. She believes that anything the Board would approve would not be detrimental to the residents. She also noted that the Maintenance staff is great and would like a letter to be written to acknowledge what they do.
Kim has helped with the meetings of the new Tenant Association and has guided them as a new Board. She will be with them for the next six months and will be able to help them know what to do in the future.
Joan – Agreed about the windows. Her concern is air conditioning in the summer with respiratory problems. She requested that the next issue to be addressed be the walkways because people are falling.
There being no further business, motion was made by Mrs. Kopchik to adjourn the meeting at 4:41 pm. Seconded by Mrs. Fatse. Approved unanimously.