North Adams Housing Agency Delays Grant Transfer

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The board of Housing Opportunities Inc. wants more detail on how the city would use its leftover grant funding before signing it over.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Housing Opportunities Inc. is delaying the transfer its grant assets to the city until full documentation has been provided.

The nonprofit agency, which functions as an arm of the Housing Authority to promote home ownership, was asked to amend its articles so an asset transfer could be made to the city from leftover block grants dating back 30 years. Board members, who are also Housing Authority commissioners, met Monday night.

The commissioners say they have yet to see the recapture agreement that would support the transfer and felt it was important to receive the information before making the asset transfer.

"We are about to hand the city of North Adams a substantial amount of money," Chairman Christopher Tremblay said. "… We keep reverting to this recapturing agreement, yet it is a mythical document that none of us have seen."

A statement outlining the money's transfer says it must be used for public purposes, however the commission felt this was to vague and would prefer the money to be put directly toward housing.

"Public purposes could be anything that the city could use the money for," committee member Marie Harpin said. "… It has to be earmarked for certain things; that’s the way I see it."

Tremblay said he would prefer transparency and did not wish to take action until the agreement was in the commissioners' hands. He added that there are many projects the money could go toward.

"I can think of a million things we could use this money for and a number of different properties around here that the Housing Authority could acquire," he said. "… I am not saying I don't want to give this money back to the city, I just want to see where this recapture is."

The commission decided to attempt to retrieve the document again for its next meeting.

Housing Authority Executive Director Jenifer Hohn said the authority’s wait list will open up for one day on July 15 to replenish names on the current list. Applicants with an 01247 ZIP code get priority, however, said she would like to expand the area covered.

"You end up with people who live in Adams and Cheshire that go into the same category as people who live in Springfield and they will never be housed by us," Hohn said.

She also said properties on Church Street and East Quincy Street will go out for advertisement July 16 after Housing and Community Development approve the locations.

The committee also discussed a five-year plan that addresses goals and a vision for the Housing Authority in the future.

Tremblay said he would like to increase the number of security cameras that are directly linked to the Police Department by next year. He said the cameras will increase safety and security for all residents and is part of a crime prevention initiative in the plan. He added that already the installed cameras have been responsible for arrests.

Hohn updated the committee on new no-smoking policy that was adopted May 1 and was part of the five-year plan.

"It's slowly working out better, and it has dwindled out a lot," she said. "There were a lot of people who were still smoking in the beginning, but I haven’t smelt any smoke in this building in a while."

Tags: affordable housing,   CDBG,   Housing Authority,   

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