Photos by Jean Vankin.
by Stephen Dravis
02:49AM / Thursday, September 03, 2015
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The marketing team behind the Cable Mills apartment complex was at Town Hall on Wednesday to urge anyone interested to inquire about applying for one of the project’s 13 affordable housing units.
“A lot of people think they’re not qualified,” said Debbie Anacki of property manager Hall Keen of Norwood. “Always ask. We want folks to call us with those questions. You’d be surprised who could qualify.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with having $100,000 in the bank or $200,000 in the bank.”
It does have to do with household income, and households earning up to 80 percent of the area median income (as determined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development) qualify to rent one of the one-, two- or three-bedroom apartments at a reduced rate.
The 13 affordable units in the 61-apartment complex are the result of the $1.5 million in Community Preservation Act funds that are subsidizing the renovation of the historic Water Street mill.
A single person qualifies with an income between $37,020 and $46,100. A family of four qualifies with an income up to $65,800. More income levels are available on the town’s website.
A lottery to determine the first 13 households who will occupy the affordable units will be held Oct. 15. The deadline to enter the lottery is Sept. 30, Anacki said.
As of Wednesday, developers had received a few applicants, but none that qualified. That should not stop other potential tenants from applying for the units, which David Traggorth of Mitchell Properties emphasized are “affordable, not low income.”
“If you’re a family of four making $60,000 a year, there are a lot of people who fit within that category,” Traggorth said. “Teachers, nurses, police officers.
“When we were trying to figure out when to have this presentation, we [decided on 5:30 p.m.] because all the people who qualify have a job, unless they’re retirees, we need to make this at an accessible time for folks. So here we are.”
Wednesday’s presentation in the Selectmen’s Meeting Room appeared to draw just one participant who was asking questions on her own behalf. Other attendees included members of the town’s Affordable Housing Committee.
Anacki and Hall Keen’s Anne Dooley have been giving similar presentations around the area, seeking to drum up interest among qualified applicants, the said.
“We’ve spread out to the college, certainly there are members of the Williams staff who would qualify,” Traggorth said. “We’re also talking to larger employers further south. We’ve reached out to Bennington and Albany. We’re casting the net pretty wide.”
For more information about the Cable Mills project, visit www.cablemills.com.
Link to the article on iBerkshires.com
The Berkshire Eagle
August 26, 2015
To the editor:
The anniversaries this week of Hurricane Katrina (10th) and Tropical Storm Irene (4th) carry lessons for a nation and for a community that cares about its most vulnerable members.
Here in the Berkshires, we learned on the fly how to pull together to support neighbors hit by disaster. When, in Williamstown, five percent of the non-student population all at once became homeless, the town government, faith communities, college, and individuals rallied to shelter them, to help salvage their possessions, and to support them in handling their shock. Most of the approximately 300 people lived in The Spruces, a retirement mobile home community.
The Red Cross and FEMA then helped move the recovery forward. Most of those displaced are now in permanent housing (though, sadly, for some that has meant leaving the area). And in the coming weeks, applications will be open for Highland Woods, the new senior affordable housing complex made possible by Higher Ground, with state, town, and college support.
This experience, and the relationships that it built, have opened our eyes to the challenges of responding to disasters.
There is another lesson worth noting, though. Somehow, as was the case in New Orleans and is true across America, our most vulnerable citizens live in the most dangerous places, by economic necessity.
The most effective, and most humane preparation we make, therefore, is the difficult but vital work of identifying and moving people in jeopardy before the next disaster strikes.
David Mangun, Williamstown
The writer is president of Higher Ground, the nonprofit group formed to support survivors of Tropical Storm Irene and to advance affordable housing in the region.