MassWorks grant gives boost to Central Berkshire Habitat condo project in Pittsfield

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PITTSFIELD — Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity has received a $425,000 grant to help realize its vision to build an energy-efficient, $1 million condominium project.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito was in Pittsfield on Thursday to announce the MassWorks grant for the project, which will consist of six condo units on Elm Street, between Deming and Gordon streets. The group hopes to start building in the spring.

Mayor Linda Tyer called the project, eight years in the making, "a vital building block to enriching the lives of so many in the city."

Polito said Pittsfield received the competitive grant because its strong leadership team and business community make it "ready to do transformational things." She said housing will fill a need within "a downtown area that's definitely on the move."

"You have a true champion in Mayor Tyer," she said of the mayor, who lobbied the governor's office for the grant. "You're really setting this community up for great success."

The state funds will cover road infrastructure for the shovel-ready project, which is scheduled to break ground in April. 

Carolyn Valli, executive director of Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, said the agency will now accept applications for buyers of the affordable units, which don't yet have a cost estimate attached to them.

Candidates will be selected based on need and credit history. 

Valli said the units will be inexpensive to fuel, and would be self-sustaining, or "net zero" energy with the addition of a solar array. She said lawn maintenance is also included in the costs.

Valli said the project is about more than providing housing that's energy-efficient, but about ensuring the success of the families who end up living there. 

"The house is just sort of the manifestation of it," she said.

Tyer said the project is an example of different segments of the community — city, state and the private sector — coming together to make a positive change in Pittsfield. 

"I'm really excited to watch this come to life here in our city," she said.

Berkshire Gas donated the land on which Habitat for Humanity plans to build, and a private donor provided a house that Habitat for Humanity sold and turned into $425,000 in seed money for the project.

Valli said they also have pledges and hope to fill the rest of the funding gap, around $150,000, with fundraising. 

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, said Berkshire County is exceptionally good at working together to stretch dollars.

"We collaborate here in Berkshire County, really more than anywhere in the state," she said, praising Habitat for Humanity for the work they do."They bring it all together to focus on family and to raise that family up. That's how we build a stronger community." 


Reach Amanda Drane at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter or at 413-496-6296.


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