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North Adams Housing Gives OK on Free Internet for Tenants

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Housing Authority Board of Commissioners approved a $333,621 expenditure to install the infrastructure needed to provide base internet, free of charge, to all tenants.
Information Technology Director Jason Morin told the commissioners last week that he has a proposal with Dojo, the contractor chosen to execute the installation, and he hopes to start the process in the coming months.
"Everything is pretty solid," Morin said. "We have the initial proposal."
Some months ago, the commissioners committed to providing internet to all tenants. They believed the internet was an essential utility that many tenants could not afford. 
Morin said the proposal will likely cost less as he goes through the proposal and negotiates with Dojo.
The commissioners agreed it would be best to outright purchase the equipment needed to avoid additional financing costs. It also would give NAHA more control over the equipment.
Housing Authority Director Jennifer Hohn said the equipment would be purchased with NAHA's healthy reserves. 
This is contingent on U.S. Housing and Urban Development approval and RAD acceptance.
Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD, allows HUD housing authorities to move their units to the Section 8 platform and to leverage debt and equity for re-investment without affecting tenant rights and rents, or housing authority control.
For over a year, the Housing Authority has pursued this conversion. 
However, the process has been complicated by the reconstruction of some damaged units in the Greylock Valley apartments. 
In January, an apartment block in the housing project was severely damaged by fire leaving several families homeless.
This work has been paused.
Currently, NAHA is waiting for some completed drawings and on the city to approve some additional permits.
Hohn said the units need to be ready for occupancy, because if there are not, it will trigger more environmental reviews and other reports the bank will require in order to move forward with RAD. This could cost NAHA more money.
RAD consultant Nathan Bondar said this is delaying the full conversion process. HUD would like these units to come fully online before approving the full conversion.
"We have to push the city some more to get that in," he said. "Hopefully we can get through this."
Bondar said once NAHA has the proper building permits and drawings, construction would likely take four to five months. This means with paperwork and other logistics the RAD conversion would take longer.
Hohn said this could draw the process out until winter or early spring.

Tags: Housing Authority,   Internet,   

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MCLA Volleyball Tops Mass Maritime Academy

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- MCLA's Chloie Garber collected 14 kills and 16 digs to lead the Trailblazer volleyball team past visiting Mass. Maritime 3-0 in MASCAC action Saturday afternoon.
The Trailblazers picked up their first conference win (1-1) as they improved to 5-3 overall. MMA dips to 1-10 overall and 0-2 in the league.
The Trailblazers fell to Trinity (CT) in the nightcap 3-0.
Garber had a productive day with her 14 kills on 39 attacks aganst MMA. She was the only Trailblazers in double figures. Natasha Stewart added 35 assists to fuel the offense. Kelly Moczulski and Reagan Scattergood each ended with eight kills.
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