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$4.3 million makes it to Berlin


September 30, 2009
BERLIN — Berlin gained access to $4.3 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds last week after Governor Lynch and Executive Council signed for the grant. The city now has two and a half years to spend the money on buying and removing dilapidated buildings and renovating buildings in disrepair.

The money will go toward stabilizing the Notre Dame High School area, the Granite Street area and the lower East Side. The first projects to be addressed using the funds will be 844 Third Ave. and the two properties on Main Street destroyed in the fire last January.

Some houses will be demolished using the money, and other properties will be rehabilitated into low and moderate income housing.

"We have more target properties than we have money already," said Housing Coordinator Andre Caron.

Money will also be made available to people who want buy houses and live in the targeted areas. The NSP funds allow the city to give a buyer $20,000 towards the down payment of a house in the targeted area if the buyer will live there. The city then puts a $20,000 lien on the property, which is reduced by $1,000 for each year the person lives there. The buyer can still move or sell the house, Mr. Caron said, they will just have to pay what is left of the lien.

The funds are targeted towards people making a maximum of 120 percent of the region's average median income, or AMI. AMI for the area is about $30,000 for a family, Mr. Caron said, so the newly developed housing will be for families making $36,000 or less.

The program requires the city to maintain records of every acquisition and demolition. It also requires the number of livable units are not reduced. That means for every two bedroom apartment destroyed, either one two bedroom or two one bedroom apartments must be created.

New England Family Housing (NEFH), a property management and redevelopment company based in New Hampton, will deal with managing the properties. The city still has to discuss the program with contractors, Mr. Caron said, but the bulk of the paperwork and the bureaucracy associated with funds will be handled by the city and NEFH.

The city has had programs that have replaced windows or helped with smaller projects, Mr. Caron said, but this is by far the largest rehabilitation effort the city has seen.

"This is going to be fixing the whole house," he said.

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