North Adams Housing Agency Approves More Flood House Funding

By John DurkaniBerkshires Staff
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The Housing Authority approved an additional $20,955 grant for the Flood House, which will likely fund Americans with Disabilities Act related issues.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Housing Authority approved an additional $20,955 — $66,304 over the next three years — in funding for the Flood House at Monday's meeting, but the site's future is still uncertain.

The funding, which came from the state Department of Housing and Community Development, will likely go to Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, Executive Director Jennifer Hohn said, because the DHCD dictates the spending, unlike the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funding.
Hohn said she has been in contact with Paul McPartland, the asset management coordinator for the DHCD, about the possibility of renting out the space, but terms regarding work on the site, qualification, uses and income information need to be decided on.
"So we're in the process right now of seeing if that's a workable situation," Hohn said.
Another possibility is the Housing Authority leasing to a nonprofit to provide a similar housing service and sublease to the tenants.
Chairman James Canavan and Hohn agreed selling the Flood House is their ideal situation, for which they would need permission. In addition, Canavan said Mayor Richard Alcombright told him they need to execute the bidding process carefully, making sure to give every nonprofit a chance.
Board member Marie Harpin recalled David Cullen of the Turner House for veterans in Williamstown could be a prospective owner. Canavan, however, said he has spoken to him and although Cullen could fund it, he wasn't sure how he could make it work.
"The other thing I have suggested to them is to do what you do well, and just keep doing that," Canavan said. "Stick with what you doing, serve the vets the way you have been."
The Housing Authority also addressed the heating issue, which Hohn said was solved in the three apartments that were underheated this winter, the first winter with the new energy efficient system. However, the authority now looks to addressing the issue of the current 72 degree cap.
"The bottom line, the real problem that you're hearing about, you're refering to is that people want their heat up above and beyond 72," Hohn said. "They're not happy with that at 72. The problem isn't that it's below 72."
The authority met on Monday afternoon to discuss heating issues, Flood House plans and other topics.
"I think we have the spring, the summer and the fall to think about these few, frail elderly and what we might be able to do specifically for them," Canavan said. "And then you're going to have the vast majority of tenants who seem to be fine with the way things are. I think that small percentage of frail elderly, with whom we may be able to do something different, and then you've got the folks who will complain no matter what you do."
On the political side of the heating issue, the authority was unhappy that correspondence sent from state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal to the regional director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has been kept secret.
Canavan was displeased the representative and congressman contacted federal agencies, which provides their funding, while keeping them "out of the loop."
Harpin said Cariddi is busy with budget hearings and has been in Boston mostly, and board member Christopher Tremblay downplayed the letter's significance because of its timing.
"A solution to this problem was already in action prior to correspondence between our state representative and our new congressman," Tremblay said.
In addition, the authority discussed the new smoke-free regulations, which will be enforced by terms of lease on Sept. 1. No smoking signs will be placed at the entrances on May 1. Hohn said the enforcement will follow a three-strike rule.
The Public Housing Assessment System also released its latest scores, in which the Housing Authority received an 89, one short of high achieving status, a huge leap since scoring a 79 in 2010, after the government changes its rating criteria.
"Of course, once we get to 90, 95 is our next goal," Canavan said.
Amy Carman was scheduled to present updates regarding heat resolutions and Northern Berkshire Community Coalition's "Organizing Your Neighborhood" tax deduction business but was absent. The next meeting will be on Wednesday, May 22, at 4:30 p.m.

Tags: Flood House,   Housing Authority,   

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