Kudos from Neal, others for new affordable, modern senior housing in Great Barrington

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GREAT BARRINGTON — It's bright, modern and the rents are reasonable at a new affordable housing complex for seniors that was unveiled Thursday off South Main Street.

And there are still a few apartments left to lease.

The 31-unit addition to Bostwick Gardens' 28 existing low-income units was hailed by local, state and federal officials as an example of what can happen amid a statewide housing shortage, and particularly in towns like Great Barrington, where 40 percent of the population is older than 50 and most housing stock is old.

Developer Elton Ogden of Pittsfield-based Berkshire Housing Development Corp. told about 75 people who attended the dedication that there is a "massive waiting list for more housing," and that it takes ingenuity and government help to get projects like this done. One such helper is U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, who explained that he has been a "defender of the low-income housing tax credit," and "new markets of tax credits," to give incentives to those willing to fuel housing developments — always a difficult endeavor, he added.

The $14 million development required a patchwork of funding that included federal and state money, and money through the town's Community Preservation Act.

The existing 28 units were remodeled and the two buildings connected during the project, which took about one year to complete. Rent prices in the new addition range from just over $900 per month for a one-bedroom, and just over $1,000 monthly for a two-bedroom.

Eight of the 31 new units are for residents who qualify for subsidized, Section 8 housing.

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It's a boon for the town, said local officials, who have undertaken long-range planning to rectify the shortage of affordable housing and new units.

At the event, Select Board Vice Chairman Ed Abrahams said the new units brings the town very close to its goal to have 10 percent of housing that is affordable, and pointed to other projects in the pipeline. Board member Bill Cooke is chairman of the Affordable Housing Trust, which helps with down payments for those who qualify, and is currently working to secure 7 acres for 30 to 40 affordable units, he said.

All of this and other town planning efforts led the Massachusetts Housing Partnership to crown the town as a "Housing Hero."

Janelle Chan, undersecretary of the state Department of Housing and Community Development, praised town officials for their commitment to fixing the affordable housing crunch, noting that projects like this one can't happen without a local push.

And Chan encouraged the support of Gov. Charlie Baker's Housing Choice Initiative, geared to make it easier for developers to work with towns to invest in more construction, since home prices statewide have skyrocketed.

Given this, Abrahams said affordable housing is something that unites.

"You don't hear neighborhoods coming out against affordable housing."

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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