Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

March 13, 2014

Housing Authority wins $137K in grants

By Bill Kirk
bkirk@andovertownsman.com

---- — The Andover Housing Authority recently learned it will be receiving nearly $140,000 in state grants to make improvements to some of its properties.

According to Christine Metzemaekers, executive director of the AHA, the grants will be used for a variety of projects, including energy sustainability projects and health and safety improvements at some of the authority’s 282 units of public housing.

The state office of Housing and Community Development announced on Feb. 24 that it was providing almost $11 million to housing authorities across the state to “improve, preserve and reoccupy” state-funded housing units.

The capital funding will be used for a number of initiatives, including supporting repairs required to get current vacant units back online, creating more accessible units for persons with disabilities and preserving the current housing stock by making the units more sustainable, according to a press release issued by the state.

“Affordable public housing is in high demand across the state,” Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Aaron Gornstein said. “These additional dedicated funds will provide local housing authorities with new tools and funding to extend the life of our current housing stock and also more quickly house seniors and families looking for affordable housing.”

The various types of funding awarded to 170 housing authorities include:

$3.6 million in sustainability funds to upgrade building components in order to save energy and water. Andover will be getting $110,000 of that, with $100,000 going toward siding for Stowe Court and another $10,000 for boiler repairs at Grand View Terrace.

Metzemaekers said Stowe Court was built in 1985 and hasn’t been re-sided since then. She said the new siding will improve energy efficiency while also making the property more attractive.

“A lot of our property is older,” she said. “We get funding sources from wherever we can to make them look nicer.”

$4.1 million in health and safety funds have been doled out to reduce site and common area hazards that could pose a danger to residents. Andover got $27,200 under that program, with the money earmarked for Memorial Circle, to remove old fencing for laundry line enclosures as well as to remove hot-top used in the laundry-hanging areas.

“The jagged fencing will come down and the broken hot top will be removed,” she said. In addition, some remaining fencing will be repaired and trees will be trimmed at properties throughout town. The property was built in 1949.

Contractors will replace the hot top with loam and grass will be planted, she said.

Finally, rear-door thresholds at Memorial Circle will be replaced. Front-door thresholds were replaced last year.

The latest round of funding does not include a $400,000 project to replace windows in the 96 units at Frye Circle. Built in 1975, the complex had crank-out windows which will be replaced with more reliable and energy-efficient vinyl, double-hung windows. That project is slated to get started in May.

“We expect to see energy savings but it’s also good for tenants — they can open their windows all the way,” she said. The old window units had a fixed bay window flanked by two crank-out windows. They will be replaced with three double-hung windows which can all be opened.

Other local communities also got state grants, including North Andover, which got $20,000 in health and safety funds, and Methuen, which got $38,700, and Haverhill, which got $44,630.

In addition, $721,053 was handed out in Vacant Unit Funds to renovate and reoccupy units needing costly rehabilitation that have been vacant for more than 60 days. Methuen got $24,875 under that program, while Haverhill got $4,260.

The state also gave out $2.5 million in Accessible Unit Funds to help housing authorities make progress toward having five percent of their units fully accessible.