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North Adams Housing Authority Wins HUD Appeal

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Housing Authority has successfully appealed its Real Estate Assessment Center score and has regained 10 points.
"We won so we went from 79 to an 89," Housing Authority Executive Director Jennifer Hohn said at last week's Housing Authority meeting.
Hohn reported late last year that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development hit the Housing Authority with a much lower REAC Score. Typically, it scores in the mid- to high 90s, however, this round it only scored a 79.
The inspector noticed paint flecks on some of the sprinkler heads in one of the units, she said, and automatically knocked off 10 points. 
Hohn decided to appeal HUD and was successful.
This brings the score for the Ashland and Spring street complexes up to 89. Greylock and Riverview apartments had a 91 physical score.
The REAC score also took into account the Housing Authority's finances, management, capital fund and late penalty points in which it either scored the highest possible amount of points or was in the top percentile.
This brings the authority's total score to 94, designating it as a high performer.  
Housing Authority member Christine Naughton asked why it didn’t score a 96, like in the previous year.
Hohn said HUD chooses a different independent inspector each year. 
"Different inspector, different company, they look at different things, but we are still good," she said.
In other business, Hohn said the authority may have to reassess the Greylock Community Center project.
Although the Housing Authority does have the funds to build the center, the project must be cleared by HUD.
Hohn said she was concerned that the project just did not meet HUD's standards.
"I think eventually we are just going to have to sit down and look at all of the work and weigh whether or not, especially in this recent climate, if HUD would allow something like this," Hohn said. "To be honest with you I don't know if they will allow something like this." 
The board held its meeting of the Housing Opportunities Inc. immediately following.
Hohn said she is still waiting on the 21E environmental report for the Sun Cleaners property on River Street.
"We have no further updates and they are still waiting for the ground to thaw so they can take more samples," she said. "So once that is done we should be fine."
For the past few years, the Housing Authority's board members, who also comprise the board of HOI, have been trying to dissolve the housing program and transfer its assets to the city.
All properties have been given to the city except for the Flood House that was transferred to the Louison House shelter.
Before accepting Sun Cleaners, the city wanted to make sure there was no contamination, which Hohn anticipates there won’t be.
"We still need more samples but as of now there is no clean up required so that is good," she said. 
Once cleared and transferred, HOI can finally dissolve. 
Although HOI cannot yet dissolve, Hoosac Valley Community Development Corp. can. Hohn said the organization that never had any assets or even a commission is no more. 
Former Housing Authority member James Canavan spearheaded the creation in 2012 of the non-profit that would address the need for affordable housing in North County. However, nothing ever came of it.
Note: updated on March 7 to include more information on the REAC scoring.

Tags: Housing Authority,   

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