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New England News

Massachusetts Funds New Housing Construction

  Construction work on publicly funded housing developments in Massachusetts should be booming in coming months. The Patrick administration has committed tens of millions of dollars to build or preserve affordable housing across the state. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

        $105 million in tax credits and subsidies from federal and state programs is being awarded for 36 housing developments in 28 communities.  State officials say this will build or preserve almost 22 hundred housing units and create an estimated 3000 construction jobs.

        In western Massachusetts, projects include a development in Agawam for homeless military veterans and in Springfield repairs to tornado damaged buildings with close to 50 apartments

        This followed an earlier announcement by the Patrick administration’s top housing official, Aaron Gornstein of a $43 million grant to modernize almost 4000 state public housing units.

        Gornstein, undersecretary in the Department of Housing and Community Development, said the renovations, which will be paid for in part by grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will bring the units up to HUD quality standards. This will make the housing eligible for increased federal funding.

        Three public housing developments in Springfield have received modernization grants totaling $19.25 million with  $2.2 million of that federal stimulus funding.

        Springfield Housing Authority Executive Director William Abrashkin said increased federal operating subsidies will mean better maintained properties and increased services to residents.

        Work that is to be done at the 136 unit Robinson Gardens development includes installing new screen doors, thermal pane windows, siding, sidewalks, gutters and downspouts.  Thomas Wilbon has been a resident for twenty years, and says the place needs that kind of work.

        Officials say the  improvements will create 50 jobs that should last through the summer and into the fall.  State Senator Gale Candaras of Wilbraham, said it will be an economic lift.

        The Springfield Housing Authority recently received a HUD planning grant, one of just a dozen awarded nationwide. It could lead to a $30 million project to improve a public housing development and its surroundings in Springfield’s South End, a neighborhood devastated by last year’s tornado.