Agencies vie for Block funds

  • Amherst Town Hall

Staff Writer
Published: 12/30/2018 9:58:30 PM

AMHERST — Building two multi-use paths in South Amherst, renovations to existing affordable housing and construction of new apartments, and various programs that serve low- and moderate-income residents, are among projects seeking Community Development Block Grant money.

Amherst will be getting $825,000 from the program as one of 11 mini-entitlement communities designated by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development due to its “high statistical indication of need, poverty rate and size.”

The CDBG Advisory Committee will meet Jan. 10 to begin reviewing the applications, and a public hearing will be held Jan. 24, said Senior Planner Nathaniel Malloy.

By the noon Friday deadline, $886,628 in non-social service projects were submitted, though just $536,250 is available, based on 65 percent of the total CDBG funding available. Eight social service agencies are seeking $350,000, but this portion of the CDBG funding is capped at $165,000, or 20 percent of the $825,000. Administrative overhead will use 15 percent of the grant.

The biggest request for non-social services is $250,000 for the town to complete the third phase of the East Hadley Road multi-use path, which is already under construction. This 8- to 10-foot wide path will be a safer way for pedestrians to get from the apartment complexes, such as The Boulders and Southpoint Apartments, to West Street/ Route 116.

Another $225,000 is being sought by the town for a multi-use path that would enhance an existing sidewalk and unpaved walkways on Mill Lane. The aim of this is to encourage people to walk and bike to Groff Park, the recreational area that will be getting the town’s first spray park in 2019.

The Amherst Housing Authority is asking for $211,628 to install new siding on Watson Farms at 693 Main St. This siding will help prevent deterioration of the housing stock.

Finally, Valley Community Development Corp. is asking for $200,000 for the predevelopment of 28 units of affordable, small studio apartments planned for a site on Northampton Road. These enhanced single-room occupancy units would be the first of their kind in Amherst and be used for individuals at risk of becoming homeless.

Valley CDC has previously developed and owned four SRO projects totaling 53 units in Northampton and Florence.

The eight social service agencies seeking money range from the $25,000 request by the Center for New Americans, to assist with making immigrants economically self sufficient and providing them support services, to the $60,000 request by Craig’s Doors: A Home Association to provide case management at the Craig’s Place shelter and resource center.

Others asking for funding include the Amherst Survival Center for its food pantry and Kids Boost program, The Literacy Project for its adult literacy and job readiness skills program, Amherst Community Connections for its resource center for low-income individuals, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County for youth mentoring, Family Outreach of Amherst for support of families and the Amherst Boys & Girls Club for youth programming.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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