Good News For Hampshire County Hilltown Families!
Northern Hilltowns Awarded $1.073 Million in Federal Block Grants
On August 13, 2009, the Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) awarded $1,073,340 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to support affordable housing, social services, and community facilities projects in five Hampshire County hilltown communities. Hilltown Community Development Corporation (HCDC) successfully applied for these highly competitive grants on behalf of the towns of Chesterfield, Cummington, Plainfield, Williamsburg and Worthington. Groups of four or more eligible small towns can currently apply for a maximum of $1.1 million in CDBG funds. Hilltown CDC will administer the FY 2009 regional grant over the next eighteen months.
Projects funded by the grant include:
- $409,614 for a Housing Rehabilitation Program that will provide zero-interest 15-year deferred payment loans to repair health and safety hazards in at least 14 homes owned and occupied by low and moderate income families in the five communities.
- $175,846 for a First Time Homebuyer Program that will benefit at least 65 low to moderate income households by: (1) conducting homebuyer training workshops; (2) providing individual homebuyer counseling; and (3) offering grants up to $4,500 for down payment /closing costs and zero-interest 15-year deferred payment loans of up to $35,000 to reduce mortgage costs and assist with repairs. First time homebuyer counseling and workshops are available to the general public. Homebuyer financial assistance is available to income eligible residents of the five Northern Hilltown communities.
- $69,863 for a community facilities project to design an elevator at the 22-unit Nash Hill Senior Housing facility in Williamsburg to make the 2nd floor apartments handicapped accessible.
- $39,405 for a community facilities project to purchase a new police cruiser for the Town of Plainfield. The Plainfield Police Dept. and Plainfield Volunteer Firefighters Assn. are contributing $13,648 toward the new vehicle and equipment, which will replace the town’s no longer operable 20-year-old cruiser.
- $220,000 for four Social Service Programs, including:
- The Hilltown Elder Network program, administered this year by Hilltown Community Health Centers, Inc. (HCHC), which provides in-home assistance with chores and transportation to low and moderate income seniors;
- The Health Outreach Program for Elders, also run by HCHC, which provides in-home nurse visits, podiatry and healthcare for frail and housebound seniors;
- Families Together, a comprehensive family support, education and counseling system also coordinated by HCHC;
- The Hilltown Food Pantry, operated by the Northampton Survival Center, which provides low and moderate-income hilltown families with weekly boxes of nutritious food at its Goshen Town Hall distribution site;
According to Hilltown CDC Executive Director, Andrew Baker, “The federal CDBG program provides help with affordable housing and social services that is increasingly needed to help lower income families maintain their foothold in the Hilltowns. We are very pleased to be able to help our Hilltown communities access and manage these funds and provide funding for needed community facilities.”
Hilltown CDC does not receive municipal funding and relies largely on its success at winning state and federal grants in order to continue serving the Hilltowns each year. Altogether, Gov. Patrick’s office announced awards of $40.3 million in CDBG grants to 84 communities across the state. The increase over last year’s $26.7 million CDBG awards was made possible by “economic stimulus” funds provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which benefited 18 additional communities this year.
Charlene Nardi, Town Administrator for the town of Chesterfield – the lead community for the Northern Hilltown CDBG program – added: “The Northern Hilltowns CDBG funding award is fantastic news. These funds provide our small rural towns with additional capacity to assist our lower income residents. Each year we are awarded funding we breathe a sigh of relief that we are be able to continue these much needed social services and affordable housing programs, with help from Hilltown CDC.”