PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Mayo Linda Tyer stood outside a home at 41 South John Street on Wednesday to provide an update on her At Home in Pittsfield program, which provides exterior renovation loans to homeowners who do not have access to traditional financing for repairs.
Nineteen owners were approved for funding under the $ 500,000 initiative at the end of September after its launch in April. Repairs total approximately $ 420,000, leaving approximately $ 80,000 for new claimants.
The average amount per household is around $ 20,000.
Ten of the 19 properties are located in the West Side or Morningside neighborhoods, which have been identified as being disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In November 2020, city council approved a $ 500,000 credit in Pittsfield economic development funds for the At Home in Pittsfield program and $ 500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds were allocated to the pot last week. .
It is also funded by local lenders including Berkshire Bank, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Lee Bank, and Pittsfield Co-op Bank.
The South John Street residence, owned by Barbara Skalski, is receiving $ 25,000 through the program for a new roof and back porch.
“Without the funding for this program, I wouldn’t be able to afford it on my own,” Skalski said. “I also took another program across town to help keep it up to date so things didn’t get out of hand to the point of falling apart on me.
“I’m just so thankful that there are programs like this.”
Skalski bought the house in 2006 and received help from the city for its siding and windows in 2007. She recently saved up to have her slate roof fixed, but ran into problems when the cost got a lot. higher than expected.
As soon as the weather permits, Skalski will start the renovations.
She urged residents who need help with repairs to apply, adding that the worst that could happen is to be found to be ineligible and the best-case scenario is to get the loan.
Tyer said the program was close to his heart and was one of his administration’s flagship initiatives.
“Each of these projects is a powerful symbol of transformation that is happening in real time, right here in our neighborhoods, and from the start we knew At Home had the potential to bridge this gap and dismantle some of the barriers that are occurring. showcased how our residents improve their quality of life and our inner city neighborhoods, ”she said.
“And I’m so happy to share that we’re doing just that, At Home has made it clear that this is a program that actively works to remove these barriers, it reduces the instances of deferred maintenance, and it broadens the path to take. ‘access. “
To date, At Home in Pittsfield has received 83 applications. Tyer said this demonstrates the need for it.
Eight of the applicants have received assistance from other funding sources, including community development block grant funds set aside to match program conditions, and 13 applicants are on hold. Twenty-two were deemed ineligible and 22 others are still working to complete the application.
The program aims to cover exterior repairs to the house that are difficult to finance with traditional financing. These include the roof, windows, siding and porches.
The total annual gross income of an eligible household must not exceed 120% of the region’s median income. At Home in Pittsfield is for homeowners who are not eligible for other existing programs.
Properties must be owner-occupied and can be single-family residences or owner-occupied multi-family homes with up to two units. To be eligible, residents must also own the home for at least two years.
Tyer championed the use of economic development funds for the initiative. It was first proposed in 2019 and rejected because councilors supported the idea but disagreed with it from the economic development fund provided to Pittsfield by General Electric.
She initially requested $ 250,000 from the GE account to start the program so that homeowners could get loans of up to 10% of appraised value after renovations, or a maximum of $ 20,000, but then doubled the amount. amount requested.
“What we thought from the start was that the Economic Development Fund was the right resource because it was putting money into the hands of our own residents in our own neighborhoods,” Tyer said.
“Of course, we appreciate the use of economic development funds to strengthen businesses and develop businesses, but this was a program meant to serve people and where they live in their neighborhood, also extremely important for economic recovery and growth, having a community of valuable homes is economic development.
She added that it also gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to engage in work and employ people. Seven local contractors are currently working for program participants: Diplacon Builders, Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, J. Smegal Contracting, Johnston Builders, Salco Construction, Saunders and Sons and Geary Builders.
Tyer also revealed that the program is expected to receive an additional $ 500,000 in the next round of ARPA funding.
At the press conference, she was joined by housing specialist Henide Harvender, rehabilitation specialist John Carchedi and director of community development Deanna Ruffer. She thanked the city staff for their work on the program, especially with residents and contractors.
Application and program details can be viewed on the city’s website website; for more information, contact the Department of Community Development at 413-499-9368.
Key words: home improvement,