Pittsfield Earmarks $8.6 million in ARPA funds for Housing Initiatives | MA

Pittsfield Earmarks $8.6 million in ARPA funds for Housing Initiatives | MA
PITTSFIELD, Massachusetts (AP) —Since the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been more housing instability and more people living on the streets, according to Mayor Linda Tyer, who has given $8.6 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help.

The funds will be used to build 37 new permanent supportive housing units and 41 new affordable housing units in the city.

“Throughout our community forums and our surveys and all the conversations that we’ve had with our community partners, the guidance that we’ve received from the city’s Homeless Advisory Committee and even the mayor’s ARPA Advisory Council placed housing as a top priority for the American Rescue Plan,” Tyer said at a press conference on Monday.

The $8.6 million is split up as follows: $354,500 for the Fenn Street Emergency Shelter; $6.5 million for Pittsfield Permanent Supportive Housing and Housing Resource Center; $750,000 for White Terrace Apartments; $500,000 for an affordable housing trust; and $500,000 for the mayor’s At Home in Pittsfield program.

The majority of the funds will be used to build eight units of permanent supportive housing on the second floor of Zion Lutheran Church’s hall, as well as 37 additional homes at 111 West Housatonic St., a vacant site given by John Wendling.

“These apartments, which will be approximately 350 square feet, are single-occupancy units and have all the amenities of a typical apartment only on a smaller scale,” Tyer said.

“The apartment buildings will also have common spaces that will function like living rooms, and West Housatonic Street will include community offices and consulting space.”

It will also support a housing resource center for people at both sites on the church’s restored basement level (7,700 square feet). A lobby with mailboxes, a quiet lounge area, a tech area for computer usage and phone charging stations, a commercial kitchen, a communal room, laundry facilities, lockers, toilets with showers, and office and consulting space will be available.

Following a devastating structural fire last year, the historic White Terrace buildings at 592–596 North St. will be given new life as 41 new affordable flats.

It will be fixed up by Regan Development Corp., a family-owned company in New York that focuses on commercial, residential, and affordable housing development.

“I drive through Massachusetts a lot; I think there’s a lot of opportunity,” the company’s development coordinator, Jeremy Regan, said.

He also mentioned that the business works on a lot of old structures, which contributed to the property’s attraction. The developers have also set up strict rules to make sure that the historical parts of the building are kept.

The entire cost of the project exceeds $15.5 million, and it is presently undergoing a funding procedure known as a “mini round” via the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development. The developers are expected to hear back this autumn, and if money is secured, building might begin in the spring.

The Fenn Street Emergency Shelter, which is housed at First United Methodist Church, has been in the works for some time. It will take the place of the ServiceNet shelter at the former St. Joseph’s High School.

In the 6,000-square-foot plan, there will be up to 45 bedrooms, conference rooms, common areas, bathrooms with showers, and access to a completely remodeled commercial kitchen and a dining area of about 3,000 square feet.

“Upon its completion, the new shelter will represent a major step forward towards a more livable, welcoming, and engaging space for the city’s most vulnerable neighbors who are experiencing homelessness, and it will provide them with access to essential local services,” Tyer said.

The entire cost will be around $904,500, with the state earmarking $200,000, the city contributing $200,000 through Community Development Block Grants, and another $150,000 in contributions.

Berkshire Housing Services Inc.’s President and CEO, Eileen Peltier, said that permission has been granted and building can start. The goal is to finish the project in the next four months.

She said that the construction timeline was subject to change “bby the time the snow flies.”

The St. Joseph’s shelter will stay open until the Fenn Street site is ready to accept guests.

The City Council created an affordable housing trust last month to assist the city in addressing housing challenges that disproportionately affect low-income residents. It will contribute to the availability of rental assistance programs, first-time homebuyer programs, and workforce housing programs for people in need.

Tyer’s At House in Pittsfield project, which pays for home improvements on the outside, is now a $1 million investment, with $500,000 from ARPA and $500,000 from the Economic Development Fund as a first commitment.

“I am deeply grateful to and have learned so much from our partners who have professional expertise and experience in this work,” Tyer concluded.

“None of these investments wouldn’t be possible without your guidance and without your equal commitment, and together we are responding to the needs of our community using this once-in-a-lifetime resource.”

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