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Houses at 8 Hynes and 10 Hynes St. in Lenox will be sold via lottery.

Lenox Housing Trust Holding Lottery for Two 'Affordable' Homes

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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LENOX, Mass. — A housing lottery will be held for two affordable homes on Hynes Street.

This is an opportunity for first-time homebuyers at 80 percent or less of the area median income, which amounts to $60,600 for a family of three, to own a house in the town that is known for Tanglewood and various other destinations.

Construct Inc., a nonprofit provider of affordable housing and supportive services in the Southern Berkshires, will be administering the lottery for the Lenox Affordable Housing Trust.

The sale price for each home is $254,000 with a tax rate of $10.84 per $1,000.  With all other associated costs and paying five percent down or $12,700, it amounts to a little over $1,400 a month, which is less than a person would pay for rent in Lenox.

The houses are located in a cul de sac off of Housatonic Street. The home at 8 Hynes Street is a two-story, 1,168 square feet structure on a 10th  of an acre with three bedrooms, one bath, and a brand-new kitchen. The 10 Hynes St. home is a 1,550 square foot, three-bedroom, one-bath home with a new kitchen and is also on a 10th of an acre.

Applications were available beginning on Thursday are due on April 25, with the lottery drawn on May 2.

The early 1900s-era homes were bought by a realty company, completely renovated, and sold to the trust.

"We looked at this and we said, 'If we want to make it affordable to a family at $63,000 a year, then the asking price, including the taxes and those other expenses has to be x,'" Housing Director June Wolfe explained.

"And then the trust looked at what they could afford to sell it for and keep it at that."

Construct became involved in the process to ensure that the houses will be counted towards Lenox's affordable housing inventory. To do so, it has to go through a local initiatives procedure with the state Department of Housing and Community Development and the organization provided its expertise in that area.

Wolfe said the lottery is being held because the state identifies it as the fairest way to do it.

Applicants can qualify based on a maximum allowable household income that is adjusted for household size ranging from one to six household members. Families of three or more are preferred.

There will also be a local preference on one of the units and the lottery will be racially balanced to ensure equity in the process.  Minority outreach will be conducted through Multicultural Bridge and the Berkshire Immigrant Center.

Applicants must be first-time homebuyers that are defined as not owning a residential property for three years and must be pre-approved for the home's mortgage.  



Every town in the state is required to have 10 percent affordable housing according to a rule that was put into place in the late 1970s and as of December 2020, Lenox is at about 7 percent affordable housing.

According to Realtor.com, the median house price for Lenox is over half a million dollars. Rental units currently on the market range from about $1,800 for a one-bedroom apartment to $3,500 for a three-bedroom home.

In 2021, the average household income in the town was about $90,000 yet the median income was about $49,000. For those in the median range, a rent of $2,000 is half their monthly earnings.

U.S. Census data from 2015 to 2019 also revealed that a majority of Lenox residents are aged 60 to 64 years old, taking up about 11 percent of the population. In contrast, under 3 percent of residents are ages 25 to 29.

Wolfe highlighted the importance of having enough producers in the town or people under the retirement age who are contributing to the local economy with work.

"If a community has all of its housing taken up by nonproducers, people who are not contributing to the economy, then it's going to affect your economy," She explained.

"Restaurants can't stay open if they don't have enough waitstaff. etc., we got a really good example of that during COVID, that lesson was driven home, suddenly we started calling our workers essential, they've always been essential but we just started calling them that recently and so we started to see what would happen if we didn't have enough."

During the COVID-19 market boom in the Berkshires, many locals fund themselves missing out on houses to out-of-towners paying above the asking price.

Wolfe recognizes that Lenox and the county as a whole are not alone in this struggle. She explained that any community that is a vacation or second home destination is being affected.

Public information sessions will be held over zoom on Feb. 25 and Feb. 28.  This is a time for interested parties to receive a summary of the lottery with time for questions.

Complete information and applications can be found on Construct's website.


Tags: affordable housing,   

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Herberg Middle Schoolers Thank Firefighters With Gift Baskets

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Firefighters were all smiles on Wednesday as they received tokens of appreciation from four Herberg Middle schoolers.

Emirhan Ozdemir, Aidan Underdown, Markus Carpenter and Stevie Kazimierczak gifted each of the city's five stations with a basket of coffee, hot cocoa, tea, and snacks after raising $425 as part of a civics project.

Crews gathered at the department headquarters on Columbus Avenue for the exchange.

"That was a great thing you guys did.  You came up with this idea, you got the whole school revved up and that's awesome.  Everybody got together and that's great," Chief Thomas Sammons told the students, adding that it was a great civics lesson and shows how far an idea can go with dedication.

"We are very thankful that you guys thought of us," he said.

The boys, who are all sports fans, were inspired to raise money because of the outpouring of support to a charity started by Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin after he went into cardiac arrest on the field early this year. The football player's heartbeat was restored on the scene and due to the nation's generous response to his community toy drive, Chasing M's Foundation, which has currently garnered more than $9 million, his family suggested that efforts be directed toward local first responders.

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