Minutes THA February 2017

Trumbull Housing Authority – February 27, 2017

Trumbull Housing Authority
February 27, 2017
4:00 pm
Community Room of Stern Village

Commissioners Present:  Chairman Janice Kopchik, Susan Fatse and Deborah Dowd

Also Present:  Executive Director Harriet Polansky

Commissioners Absent:  Commissioners Suzanne Donofrio and Paul Niebuhr

The meeting was called to order at 4:05 pm by Chairman Kopchik followed by Roll Call and the Pledge of

Past Minutes
1. Motion was made by Mrs. Kopchik to approve the minutes of January 23, 2017 as written.
Seconded by Mrs. Fatse and approved unanimously.
2. Approval of the minutes of February 13, 2017 was moved to the March meeting.

Treasurer’s Report
Ms. Dowd reported for the Trumbull Housing Authority for the period ending January 31, 2017.  Stern
Village and Stern Center had an overall loss of approximately $54,293.  This is attributable to the
numerous vacancies in the Village and Center, reducing the rental income by $36,000, as well as
additional legal expenses of $10,000 and costs of advertising for the wait list opening and necessary
credit checks totaling $8,000.  Currently our reserve balance is $1,482,284 which is approximately
$6,677 for each unit in the entire complex.  It was explained that the increase in legal fees was due
partially to evictions.

Director’s Report
Ms. Polansky reported the overall cash position as of January 31, 2017 showed a balance of $948,640
including the investment account.  Accounts Payable is approximately $63,397, including the PILOT
accrual for the current year.  Ms. Polansky will continue to look at other projects to further improve the
facility within the realm of affordability, need and security.
Ms. Polansky is working on the 2017 Small Cities Grant to be used for new windows for 186 units.  She
will meet later with a sub‐committee of the Town Council to ask them to approve the Small Cities Grant
to be used for this purpose.
Ms. Polansky is applying for funds with the State for exterior improvements to the Village buildings as
well as for the Congregate.

Neil is working on a 501(3)(c) that will be used to get additional money into the property by getting
HTCC money and money from other sources.  Under the HTCC program, a non‐profit corporation can
receive up to $500,000 annually in State tax credits which can then be sold to State business firms in
return for cash contributions to the non‐profit corporation’s housing program.  Each year CHFA allocates
up to $10 million in State HTCC tax credits on a competitive basis to non‐profit corporations.  Neil, Ms.
Polansky, Frank and Bruce from Millennium and George Wiles met with CHFA and DOH for a pre‐
application meeting.  The State does not have Rental Assistance any more so we are looking at health
and safety issues which are the roads, pathways, curbs, sidewalks, sewers, roofs, doors, insulation, etc.
For the Congregate it is more mechanical systems such as replacing the generator, adding attic
insulation, replacing the boiler – things that affect all residents.  We are asking the State to provide us
funding to fix our infrastructure issues that affect every resident.  There is not enough funding available
to tackle the inside of each unit at this time.
At the present time, the Village has five vacancies and the Congregate has three vacancies.  May have to
open up a wait list again but Ms. Polansky is waiting on directive from the State based on the meeting

Unfinished Business

New Business

Update from the Stern Village Resident Association
Ralph Claudio reported the following:
1. Resident Association Board Vacancy Filled –Two nominations for the vacant Member‐at‐Large
position on the Stern Village Resident Association Board were received at the February 7, 2017
Resident Association Meeting.  Nominations included Ralph Claudio and Judith Restieri.
Members had an opportunity to hear from both candidates.  A vote was conducted and Ralph
Claudio was elected to serve the remaining term for the Member‐at‐Large position on the
Resident Association Board.
2. Request for Funding of Resident Association – The Stern Village Resident Association
respectfully submitted a request for funding.
3. Road/Sidewalk Repairs Petition and Town Hall Meeting – The Resident Association has been
collecting signatures to be submitted to the Town of Trumbull to repair the roads and sidewalks
of the Stern Village community.  A total of 180 signatures of support have been collected.  The
Association is seeking to coordinate a Town Hall Meeting which would afford residents the
opportunity to speak with town representatives to engage their support in addressing this issue.
4. Welcome Packet Committee – The Resident Association will be developing a Welcome Packet to
provide to new residents upon move‐in.  The Association has established a committee and will
be working to develop the materials to be included in the packet.  All residents’ ideas and
suggestions are welcome.
5. Sunshine Club – The Resident Association has formed a Sunshine Club which will recognize
residents for birthdays, anniversaries, when ill or hospitalized and upon moving in or moving
out.  A Sunshine Club Participation form will be distributed to all residents during March.
Residents will be able to select if and how they will participate.
It was noted by the Board that the Association must have a Treasurer before this funding will be

Resident Comments
1. Joan – requested if the Maintenance Department could plow out to the parking lot so that
people can get to the cars and the Congregate.  She requested a more direct route over the
grassy area be cleared.
Ms. Polansky will speak with the Maintenance Department to see if this would be a problem.  It may
become slippery and cause a falling hazard.
2. Bob – also requested some type of path to the circle by his apartment so that residents do not
have to walk all the way around to get to the sidewalk.
The Board suggested that a work order be done so that the Maintenance Department will know the area
to work on.  Ms. Polansky will walk with the residents to see exactly what needs to be done.
3. El – spoke about the sidewalks and noted that the sidewalks are bad with cracks and are
uneven.  This is a health issue.
Mrs. Polansky noted she met with the State regarding the application for the 2017 State‐Sponsored
Housing Program Funding Round to talk about the acute health and safety issues that have to be
addressed which includes roads, paths, curbs and sidewalks.  This work would be over $800,000.
4. Christine – noted that she spends a lot of money on her clothes, socks, towels.  Complained that
her personal belongings have disappeared.  Someone comes in every day when she is walking
her dog and takes her belongings.  She stated the stealing has to stop.  Someone is searching
into her medications, clothes, money, wallet – she has had enough.
Ms. Polansky asked if a Police report had been done.  Christine said yes.  Christine noted she has a sign
on her door not to come in but when they see her walking her dog they come in.  Ms. Polansky asked
who has a key.  Christine replied that Ms. Polansky did.  Ms. Polansky noted she has a master key for
everyone’s apartment.  Christine does not know how people get into her apartment but she does know
that Ms. Polansky and Maintenance have keys.  Ms. Polansky assured Christine that her staff is not going
into her apartment to steal her belongings.  Christine stated that it could also be Ms. Polansky that is
stealing her belongings.  Christine also has a list of others who have things missing.
5. Dorothy – asked if the Housing Authority provided land lines to the residents.  She noted she has
a problem with her T‐Mobile cell phone service and would like a land line.  She also asked about
a traffic light as you come out of the village.
It was noted that land lines are the responsibility of the resident.  It was also noted that T‐Mobile is
building a tower in Trumbull Center within the next few months that will help with service.  A traffic light
would be a State issue.
6. Donna – noted that the snow from her front roof melts onto the area in the front of her building
and there is a lot of ice when it refreezes.  The walkway is on a hill and it is dangerous.
Mrs. Polansky will do a work order for Maintenance to see if they can find a way to help this situation.
7. John – noted the Resident Association does not have a specific Treasurer or Secretary as it is a
shared responsibility at this time.
Kim from TOVAH noted that the Association is allowed to have separate or shared responsibility for
these positions.  They need to open up a bank account and deposit funds.  A financial statement will be
provided to the Board and the Association members.

There being no further business, motion was made by Mrs. Kopchik to adjourn the meeting at 4:37 pm.
Seconded by Mrs. Fatse and approved unanimously.

Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Crandall

Meeting Agenda November 9, 2016


DATE:                November 9, 2016

TIME:                10 AM

LOCATION:     Stern Village (Community Room), 200 Hedgehog Circle, Trumbull, CT 06611

  1. Call to Order
  2. Roll Call and Pledge of Allegiance
  3. New Business

Discussion/Action regarding an updated THA Grievance Policy

  1. Resident Comments

Stern Village Residents (only) may speak for a maximum of 3 minutes. Stern Village Residents (only) must sign-up to speak prior to the start of the meeting.

  1. Adjournment


Addendum to Agenda– New Business


All disputes concerning the obligations of the Tenant or the THA shall be resolved in accordance with the THA’s grievance procedure in accordance with the regulations of Connecticut State Agencies.

The THA’s grievance procedure is not intended as a forum for initiating or negotiating policy changes between a group or groups of Tenants and the THA.

Informal settlement of grievances is encouraged and every effort will be made to minimize administrative costs associated with informal settlements.

Meeting Agenda November 9, 2016

THA Recap: January 1, 2017 – June 30, 2017

Heat Pumps – The process to select a contractor for the Heat Pumps was extremely time consuming. We worked with the Town of Trumbull to select the lowest and most responsible bidder. Barry Associates was selected and thoroughly vetted. The installations went very smoothly and each unit has a heat pump.

New Lease for Stern Village and for The Congregate – I spent months on crafting a new lease with our THA Legal Counsel. The new lease includes several CT Statutes which protect the THA and our residents from improper activities.

Resident Volunteer Breakfast – This was my fourth consecutive year of having our volunteer breakfast to thank our residents for all they do. The food was provided by Creative Culinary.

New Roof for Stern Village Building–We replaced the roof over apartments 13 – 16. If we get the SSHP funding, we plan on replacing all the roofs for Stern Village.

Non-Profit – We fulfilled the documents to become a non-profit entity, called Trumbull Housing Corporation a 501(c) 3. We are waiting approval from the IRS.

2017 Small Cities Grant – The Town of Trumbull applied for another Small Cities Grant for new, energy efficient double pane windows for Stern Village. I worked closely with Larry Wagner, Consultant (selected by the Town of Trumbull), to fulfill all the required documentation. This included going in front of the Town Council to explain why we need the windows.

Applications for Stern Village – We received applications for Stern Village from April 1 – April 30. These are for non-smoking units only. We had approximately eighty applicants and approximately forty seven applicants passed the initial national credit screening and criminal background checks. We currently rented six units starting July 1 and we are interviewing applicants for the remaining vacancies.

 2017 SSHP Application – After several meetings and conference calls with CHFA and DOH, we applied for approximately $4 million from the State to allow us to:

-Repave roads and parking lots

-Repave walkways

-Repair sanitary system

-Repair storm sewers

-Make the community room ADA accessible

-Install new domestic hot water tanks

-Put new roofs, fascia, gable siding, and gutters on all units

-Increase attic insulation

-Get new exterior doors and master locksets

-Convert 19 units into ADA apartments

New Maintenance Person – We hired John Fox to join our maintenance team. He is part-time only.

Recertification and New Lease – Most of our residents have satisfied their recertification requirements and signed the new lease.

Healing and Community Garden – Thanks to Home Depot in Trumbull, we have raised gardens filled with flowers, vegetables, and herbs for the congregants. Our Garden Committee will tend to the garden and the herbs will also be used by our Chef in meal preparation.



Besides our regular activities including but not limited to:

Bingo, Pokeno, Pinochle, Adult Coloring with Gus, Nostalgia with Nick, Yarn Arts and Chair Exercises with Romy, Arts and Crafts with Allison, Game Night, and Movie Night, we also had:

The Monthly Garden Therapy Club, thanks to the members of the Long Hill Garden Club.

Super Bowl Brunch courtesy of Crossroads Community Church, Trumbull.

Charul and Alok Bhatt and Kaiser of Trumbull Pharmacy discussed medications and provided a healthy lunch.

Chinese New Year Celebration at Stern Village with Tom Megna from Goodwill who discussed Chinese cultures and the THA provided lunch.

Kathleen Godwin of Blue Cross & Blue Shield provided information on Medicare and Medicaid.

Shannon Shlash from the Witness Project discussed mammograms and cancer prevention.

THA Mother’s Day Breakfast sponsored by Creative Culinary.

THA Father’s Day Luncheon sponsored by Ed Henrich of United Healthcare.

Download: THA Recap January 1, 2017 – June 30, 2017

Community Support is Key – Thank You Cooperative Education Services

Every day the THA benefits from the help and support provided to us by members of the community and various organizations.  I would like to thank Cooperative Educational Services (CES) located in Trumbull, CT for their on-going assistance. Their “DSL” students are truly remarkable, thoughtful and friendly. On Fridays, they deliver Bruegger’s Bagels to the community room, along with their job coaches. Every month, students staple our monthly Stern Village Voice Newsletter and another group of students delivers them door-to-door to our 186 residents, along with their job coaches. Holiday time, they helped our residents decorate our Stern Village tree. These talented students even provided personalized gift wrapped, hand-made ornaments for our residents! If you or your organization is interested in helping the THA, please email [email protected]  #CES #Coorperative Education Services

Heat Pumps for Comfort

A heartfelt thank you to the Town of Trumbull for applying for the Small Cities Grant in 2016 in order to get heat pumps for 186 units in Stern Village and for the State of Connecticut for approving it!

Over the course of several months, I conducted resident meetings to discuss the benefits of the ductless heat pumps to improve residents’ quality of life and savings on electric bills.  I have answered many questions. Experts have attended Board Meetings to discuss how efficient the heat pumps are.

The Facts

-We are not taking out the old electric baseboard heat.

-If residents do not want to use the Heat Pumps to reduce their heating bills we can turn it off and they will remain on the old electric baseboard heat.

-If residents do not want air-conditioning at a minimal cost we will not turn on the Heat Pump system.

Residents have the freedom to choose.

Installation of Heat Pumps Has Begun – Residents are Raving about their Heat Pumps!

-Ductless heat pumps are small and mounted high above your living space delivering even heating and cooling throughout.

-Heat pumps use a small, exterior condenser to transfer heat from the outside air directly to the inside unit, offering a number of tangible benefits

Money savings ­– High on the list of benefits is the money residents will save.  Residents will see significant savings on their UI bills.

Live in Comfort- Ductless heat pumps provide heating and air conditioning to your space giving you comfort all year round with one unit. No need for window air conditioners.

Better air quality – Ductless heat pumps have multiple filters and deliver air directly from the outdoors to your room, avoiding allergens. Those with allergies and breathing issues will also enjoy this benefit

Lowers the carbon footprint – A ductless heat pump reduces your carbon footprint through the significant reduction in energy usage. Each system meets UI guidelines and reduces energy usage by 60% over traditional electric options.

The heat pump control is easy to use. Set it and Forget it! If residents need to increase or lower the temperature, point it and use the arrows.

Energy efficiency, cost savings, and positive environmental impact are all benefits of ductless heat pumps. 


Stern Village Resident Association

The residents of the Trumbull Housing Authority now have resident representation, thanks to the duly elected Stern Village Resident Association. The Resident Association acts as a voice for Stern Village and works closely with the THA Board of Commissioners and Harriet Polansky, Executive Director. This new association has monthly meetings in the Community Room and welcomes all residents to attend. They are currently planning activities for residents to get acquainted.




Stern Village Resident Association Members:


Maureen Bova

Vice President

Joyce Aquino


Gloria Lanham

Josephine Rivera

Nicholas Vertucci

John Vogele

Welcome to the Director’s Corner – It Takes a Village

Hi, I’m Harriet Polansky, Executive Director of the Trumbull Housing Authority and I am using this blog to provide additional information about the Trumbull Housing Authority (THA) – Stern Village.  I am passionate about Stern Village and committed to improving the health, safety and well-being of our residents. Our Board of Commissioners work tirelessly on residents’ behalf. Our five commissioners are volunteers, appointed by the First Selectman of Trumbull. The Trumbull Housing Authority is under the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority’s Housing Portfolio, a quasi-public agency. We are not Federally Funded or part of HUD. We are the Public Housing Authority for the Town of Trumbull, providing affordable housing to low income adults. For the Village, one must be at least 62 year old (Elderly) and/or 18-62 years old (Young Disabled). Stern Village is truly the “jewel of Trumbull” acting as a community within a community.  For Stern Center-Congregate, one must be at least 62 years old and have one or more difficulties with daily living. The Congregate is not a nursing home or assisted living. It is an independent living facility with supportive services. We have 186 residents in the Village and 36 residents in the Congregate. We offer numerous activities, presentations and events for our residents. We even have a small food pantry located in the Community Room.  Our residents are kind and caring individuals. They come from different regions and walks of life. They all have great stories and can entertain you for hours! Stop by and get acquainted.


Minutes THA January 2017

Trumbull Housing Authority

January 23, 2017

4:00 pm

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.


Past Minutes

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.


Treasurer’s Report

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:

  1. Replaced a roof on one of the buildings in the village
  2. Started to replace the subfloors as deemed unsafe
  3. 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.
  4. Started to compile the necessary documents and associated costs to apply for SSHP 2017 for the Congregate and 2017 Small Cities Application.
  5. 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.


Unfinished Business

No unfinished business.


New Business

  1. 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.


Resident Comments

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.


Respectfully submitted,




Barbara Crandall





THA Recap: July 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016

$800,000 Received Through Small Cities Grant
In July the Town of Trumbull received a Small Cities Grant from Governor Malloy to be used for heat pumps for the 186 units in Stern Village. The application process was long and arduous, involving several department heads from the Town of Trumbull and their consultant Larry Wagner of Wagner Associates. Since July, we have been finalizing the specs and working on the bid process. We had a pre-bid meeting on Wednesday, December 28 at Stern Village to review the bid documents with interested parties.

CHFA Asset Manager Visits the THA
Our Asset Manager visited us in July to review our protocols, methodology and requisite forms. We met all the criteria established by CHFA.

Harriet’s Monthly Resident Meetings
Harriet’s Tuesday Teas are still going strong. I continually update the residents on happenings and we discuss pertinent issues involving their well-being. Jeff Holt our Maintenance Manager has attended a couple of my meetings to discuss work orders, sewer issues, i.e., what to flush and what not to flush down the toilet, alternating sections for mowing and snow removal, and the like.

Security Guard Service
In July we outsourced ICS Security for the Congregate. We have and will continue to work very closely with the owners of ICS Security and their guards to update protocols and deal with potential security issues. Additional cameras were installed in the Congregate to enhance the safety of the residents.

We replaced fifteen windows in the Congregate with new, energy efficient ones.

Partnering with Goodwill Industries
Goodwill Industries provided the THA with part time assistants, at no charge, as part of their Employment Training program. We have had assistants for the Congregate and for our Maintenance Staff.

Wait List 2016
We opened the Wait List for the month of August. We received 82 applications and 49 out of 82 applicants made the Wait List. We had 12 vacancies (not including units 5, 6, 7 and 8), and filled 11 units. Units 5, 6, 7 and 8 have been set aside to evaluate the potential for a straight rehab with the Board’s approval.

We worked with GBT and Michelle Jakob, Director of the Senior Center to develop a bus transportation schedule to meet the needs of THA residents. We have a dedicated bus driver twice a week for 5-6 hours. For the coming year, we will be working with GBT on improving scheduling and transportation.

Key Fob for Congregate
We implemented a key-fob automatic door system for the Congregate. This has made a huge difference for the Congregants, alleviating the need to manually open the heavy door.

Solar Power
The installation of equipment for solar power was started in September. This was a long, arduous process. The THA will see a savings which will help the Congregate overall. This is a significant achievement for a CT Public Housing Authority to have solar and to implement a green initiative.

Kim Pietrorazio from TOVAH
Based on a grant from the state, Kim has been working very closely with the residents to form a duly elected Stern Village Resident Association for all the residents of the THA.

THA Annual Picnic
Our 2016 picnic was a success! The weather was perfect, the food was outstanding, our DJ Tony Castle got everyone up dancing and we received several donations from our vendors and suppliers to off-set the costs.

Fire Drill
Alex Rauso, Trumbull Deputy Fire Marshall, informed our Congregants about fire drill procedures. We are in the process of creating “What to Do in Case of a Fire” instructions and a “you go here map” for every Congregate. We are going to have several drills in 2017.

Grievance Policy
The THA now has a Grievance Policy based on State statutes. This new policy should help alleviate the need for attorney fees and make any eviction process smoother. Attorney Mike Jankovsky and I diligently worked on this policy for several weeks prior to THA Board approval. Each resident was also provided with a copy of the policy.

Tree Removal
Several dead trees were removed, roots pulled up, bushes pruned, and stumps removed. This should alleviate several problems we have had due to overgrowth and roots disturbing our sewer lines.

Sewer Issues
We continue to have sewer issues and we have hired a company to flush all the lines quarterly. However, it is up to the residents to make sure they are mindful of what goes in the toilet or down the drain.

Circuit Breakers
We updated several circuit breakers since many were obsolete and could cause the panels to burn out.

Funding for Redevelopment and Revitalization
The THA did not get the funding necessary to redevelop and revitalize Stern Village. Our application was flawless – it came down to the necessity for rental assistance. Funding for rental assistance is currently not available. This is not going to impede our constant fight for funding and we are looking at additional ways on how we can rehabilitate Stern Village and the Congregate.

On December 17th, Neil, Daisy and I had a conference call with CHFA and DOH to discuss some funding alternatives and we have provided information for CHFA and DOH to review.
The THA is committed to improve our infrastructure within the realm of affordability.

Annual Inspections
Our annual maintenance inspections started in October. Heather and I updated our inspection form to make it easy to use without losing thoroughness. Maintenance fixed any issues found during inspection and I met with residents who failed some of the categories.

Rent Stratification
We implemented rent stratification for incoming tenants in order to get additional money into the THA. Neil and I worked closely with CHFA on this and with Board approval the new rent is $400 for an efficiency and $450 for one-bedroom.

Volunteers from CES (Cooperative Educational Services)
We had student volunteers from CES to help collate, staple, fold and distribute our newsletter. These remarkable students also decorated our Christmas tree and made gifts for our residents. They will continue helping us in 2017.

Job Coaching Program from the State
The THA has partnered with the State to provide job coaching to select individuals that meet certain criteria. In January we will have a CNA at the Community Room and at the Congregate to take residents’ blood-pressure and discuss certain issues. All information is proprietary.

Small Cities Grant for 2017
We have started the ideation process for a small cities grant in 2017. We are contemplating new windows (and maybe doors) for every unit in Stern Village.

THA Elections
We had elections for our THA Resident Commissioner and for the Board of the Stern Village Resident Association. Both elections went smoothly thanks to Kim Pietrorazio, who oversaw the entire process. We also had Trumbull residents Lisa Labella and Jon Green help with the election, as well as an intern from the Trumbull Senior Center and Maureen Bova from the Stamford League of Woman Voters.

Wellness Coach
Romy Ganser is our Wellness Coach for the residents of the Congregate and Stern Village. Romy’s weekly chair exercises and special yoga classes have been well attended. Romy has worked with several residents on healthy eating, providing techniques for reducing stress and anxiety, and Romy has worked with our Chef to introduce quinoa and other healthy foods to the menu. Starting next Friday, Romy will be teaching knitting, crocheting and felting classes at 10:30 am in the Community Room

Arts and Crafts
Allison Spitzer London has worked with our residents to create beautiful and useful items during her creative expression classes. Our residents are working with a variety of mediums and love attending Allison’s classes.

Long Hill Garden Club
The members of the Long Hill Garden Club come to Stern Village on a monthly basis to work with our resident on creating magnificent floral arrangements, based on the season. The members donate their time and often bring homemade food and drinks made from fresh herbs.

Sacred Heart University
We have partnered with Sacred Heart University to provide an internship to one of their students majoring in Social Work. Megan will work with our residents beginning the middle of January. She will do some innovative programs with our residents and be available to discuss issues.

Special Activities
-Susan Pinto from Griswold Home Care Agency held a Make Your Own Strawberry Shortcake Event for the residents.
-Michelle from the Scents-A-bility Project discussed the power of scents and residents made necklaces and were given a healing necklace.
-Unity Pharmacy provided a delicious lunch and discussed Medication Safety.
-Wheel of Fortune was presented by Home Instead Home Care.
-Kaitlin, an Intern from the Trumbull Senior Center, discussed the importance of the File of Life.
-The Residents’ Holiday Party was coordinated by residents June Leonard and friends.
-The Trumbull High School Choir sang for our residents.

Download: THA Recap July 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016

Minutes Special THA May 2016

Trumbull Housing Authority
May 9, 2016
4:00 pm
Community Room of Stern Village

Commissioners Present: Chairman, Janice Kopchik, Commissioner Thelma Burr and Suzanne Donofrio

Also Present: Executive Director Harriet Polansky

The meeting was called to order at 4:02 pm by Chairman Kopchik. Roll call was conducted followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Mrs. Kopchik moved the Resident Comments to the end of the meeting.

New Business
Discussion and Possible Action regarding the Stern Village Tenants Association – Mrs. Kopchik noted that at the February 22, 2016 Trumbull Housing Authority Board meeting, Kim from TOVAH discussed Project Reach and her role in working with the residents of the Trumbull Housing Authority through Project Reach. On behalf of the residents of the Trumbull Housing Authority, Kim requested that the Trumbull Housing Authority Board of Commissioners engage the legal counsel of the Trumbull Housing Authority to act upon the interests and desires of the residents who wish to participate in their community via the Tenant Association and ensure that they are provided with equal opportunity to do so. Minutes are available from that meeting for review.

Mrs. Kopchik introduced Attorney Chris Russo who provided the findings of the Stern Village Tenants Association (SVTA).

Mr. Russo stated he was asked to look into the compliance aspect of the Stern Village Tenants Association with regard to state and federal law. The laws were reviewed and he corresponded with multiple attorneys that were representing Mr. Littlefield who is a resident here and the Stern Village Tenants Association. They requested a number of documents from each of them.

He noted the basic path the law goes through starts with Chapter 128. Sec. 8-41(b). This Chapter of the CT General Statutes deals with zoning, planning, and housing community development. This particular chapter also talks about municipal housing projects. The section deals with tenant commissioners but also deals with tenant organizations. This was reviewed as to what direction would be an appropriate tenant organization at Stern Village. Section 8-41(b) reads

“The authority shall designate a tenant organization as a recognized jurisdiction wide tenant organization only if the members of the governing body of such tenant organization were elected through a jurisdiction wide election and such tenant organization satisfies the requirements for election jurisdiction wide resident councils pursuant to regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Housing Development HUD.”

The Connecticut law directs to the federal law for standards that must be followed. CT 24 CFR 964 is the federal regulation they refer to. This lists a number of requirements.

The purpose of the regulation is to recognize the importance of resident’s involvement in creating a positive living environment and actively participating in the overall mission of public housing. The policy on tenant participation is that HUD promotes resident participation in the active involvement of residents in all aspects of the housing authority overall mission operation. As long as proper procedures are followed, the housing authority shall recognize the duly elected resident council to participate fully through a working relationship with the housing authority. HUD encourages housing authorities to work together. The federal law is connected to the state law and they say the same thing. The important thing is that proper procedures are followed. The housing authority has a duty to make sure that proper procedures are followed and these procedures are laid out in regulation. Mr. Russo focused on the procedures which are related to the Stern Village/Trumbull Housing Authority situation.

One section is 964.115 and it deals with resident council requirements. Resident council and tenant organizations are really interchangeable. It states a resident council must meet each of the following requirements in order to receive official recognition from the housing authority. Mr. Russo stressed the requirements that were important:

1. Must adopt written procedures such as bylaws which provide for the election of residents to the governing board by the voting membership of the residents residing in the housing. This has to be on a regular basis at least once every three years.
2. Written procedures must also provide for a recall election by the voting membership and the threshold for a recall election shall not be less than 10 percent of the voting membership.
3. Must have a democratically selected governing board that is elected by the voting membership. At a minimum, the governing board should consist of 5 elected board members. The voting membership must consist of heads of household and other resident of at least 18 years of age and older and whose name appears on the lease. The term voting membership is key because if there is not a proper voting membership and your bylaws call for a voting membership, it is a fatal flaw in the bylaws. This must be according with the federal law.
4. Election procedures and standards section is about bylaws and how those organizations are constituted. A resident council shall use an independent third party to oversee elections and recall procedures. This is not the housing authority or the tenant organization. The following minimum standards for election procedures must be followed:
a. All procedures must assure fair and frequent election of resident council members at least once every three years for each member.
b. Each member of the resident council shall adopt and issue election and recall procedures in their bylaws.
c. Election procedures shall include qualifications for office, frequency of elections and procedures for recall and limits, if desired.
d. All voting members of the resident community must be given at least 30 days notice for nominations and elections. The notice should include a description of election procedures, eligibility requirements and dates of nominations and elections.
e. If a resident council fails to satisfy HUD minimum standards for fair and frequent elections, or fails to follows its own election procedures as adopted, HUD shall require the housing authority to withdraw recognition of the resident council.

The Stern Village Tenants Association would need to meet these requirements. Mr. Russo was contacted by Attorney William Palmieri who represented the Stern Village Tenant Association and Mr. Littlefield. He was requested to provide documents related to these requirements and he was unable to produce any. Next Attorney William Whewell was contacted on 3/15/16 for documents relating to meeting these requirements and several other documents. Response was received on 3/29 and no documents were provided. Mr. Russo read the response which is attached to these minutes.

A copy of the original bylaws was also reviewed but there is no evidence they have been revised. There are several requirements missing with regard to elections and voting threshold. There is also a problem with member dues being required to vote. This is not a requirement under HUD. With HUD, you have to be head of household with a lease with Stern Village. This all compromises whether the Stern Village Tenant Association should be recognized. No election information has been received. If it was not in compliance with one of these requirements, the housing authority would need to withdraw recognition. In this case, none of the requirements have been met.

Mr. Russo has instructed the housing authority, even if there was never any recognition given to the SVTA, to make clear they are withdrawing any recognition of the SVTA. It does not follow with federal or state law and violates the standards in numerous areas. Unfortunately, the attorneys for the other side did not provide any documentation or cooperate with requests. The federal law encourages the housing authority to be active in engaging a tenant organization. It was the opinion of the SVTA that the housing authority had no oversight of the SVTA. Some internal topics are not within the oversight of the housing authority but making sure it is duly elected and the voting membership is appropriate is on the housing authority to make sure it is done in accordance with the law.

The housing authority has been advised to proactively move to a duly elected and constituted organization. The housing authority and tenant organization should be working together on decisions and the law actively encourages the housing authority to do so. He is advising the housing authority to withdraw recognition of the SVTA and also push to get a properly constituted tenant organization.

This meeting was noticed by agenda and a robo call was sent out. A document request was sent to his lawyer which stated the housing authority needed this information. We did not believe this organization was duly elected and this information would let us determine if this is the case. It was made clear they did not feel it was duly elected and that a new one should be formed. There has been a lot of time put towards this issue.

Mrs. Kopchik made a motion to approve the findings of Attorney Russo detailed in the submitted Opinion Letter addressed to Harriet Polansky, Executive Director of Stern Village, on May 2, 2016 and pursuant to those findings, to formally withdraw recognition of the Stern Village Tenants Association as a duly elected tenant organization pursuant to Chapter 128, Section 8-41(b) of the Connecticut General Statutes and 24 CFR 964 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Motion was seconded by Mrs. Donofrio and approved unanimously.

Kim from TOVAH applauded the efforts of the Board of Commissioners. This situation is not typically seen and by making this motion and decision it opens up the door to work towards and establish a duly elected resident association. Kim presented a time line of events to move this forward which is attached to the minutes. She also discussed the updating of the bylaws and elections.

Question was asked regarding the League of Women Voters and the legality of the election. The issue has been that since the people were elected they have not functioned in a way that is consistent with State and Federal law. Mr. Russo noted he had requested this material from the attorney and it was not provided. It is unknown if the election was done properly. If Mr. Littlefield wants to contest anything, he would need to provide information for review. It was noted in the Opinion Letter that the association was not in compliance. Mrs. Kopchik noted that Mr. Littlefield was reminded at all the meetings that he could only speak for himself, not the tenant association.

Resident Comments
In moving forward, we will not be mentioning tenants association. Kim noted that all correspondence will be written on TOVAH letterhead until the bylaws are approved. There is no reason to address the old tenant association.

Jackie Hyzynski –hopes that this is an end to the situation and that we can move forward before the State doesn’t have any money to help us.

There being no further business, motion was made by Mrs. Kopchik to adjourn the meeting at 4:48 pm. Seconded by Mrs. Donofrio and approved unanimously.

Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Crandall

These minutes are considered a draft until approved at the next meeting of the Trumbull Housing Authority.