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20-unit elderly housing project awarded HUD funds

November 22, 2011
LANCASTER — Federal grant funding for 20 units of affordable housing for the elderly to be built on the vacant six-acre vacant lot at 2 Bridge Street (Route 2) in front of the Lancaster School was announced on Wednesday by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The nonprofit Southern New Hampshire Services (SNHS) Management Corporation will receive a capital advance of $3,245,500, allowing it to build a connected single-story building.

The award also includes a three-year rental subsidy of $243,300, designed to cover the difference between the residents' contributions toward rent and the cost of operating the project.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen explained in a Wednesday afternoon telephone interview why she had worked hard to secure funds for this North Country housing facility.

"There is a real need for affordable housing," Shaheen said. "In addition, the construction industry has been among the sectors hardest hit by the economic downturn. This worthwhile project will also provide much-needed jobs in northern New Hampshire."

The senior citizens will live near to a pre-school-to-grade-eight elementary school, and Shaheen spoke warmly and enthusiastically about the possibility of intergenerational friendships as well as the volunteer opportunities for both youth and elders.

The Lancaster School has a new walking trail along the river that likely will also appeal to senior citizens and their friends and family members.

SNHS has sponsored many successful elderly housing projects around the state, including the Echo Valley Village in Pittsburg. County commissioner and Pittsburg selectman Burnham "Bing" Judd pointed out recently that the Village is not only very well managed but has also brought a group of lively senior citizens into town who stay year-round and volunteer their time in various community activities.

The Lancaster housing project will benefit from recent bipartisan changes to this supportive housing program, explained HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan in a prepared statement. Residents must be "very low income" with household incomes less than 50 percent of their median for that area. Most households that receive Section 202 assistance earn less than 30 percent of the median for their area. Generally, this means that a one-person household will have an annual income of about $13,500. Monthly rents typically are in the $300 to $400 range, depending on income. Heat and utilities are included in the rent, except for telephone and cable. A Payment in Lieu of Taxes would be made to the town.

Town manager Ed Samson said in a Thursday morning telephone interview that it is wonderful that more affordable housing will soon become available but that other needs of senior citizens remain unmet, especially for a senior center. A group of interested citizens with whom he has been quietly working will continue their efforts to achieve this goal, he said.

Another SNHS Management Corp. Section 202 grant for a capital advance of $2,596,400 with a three-year rental subsidy of $194,700 was also awarded: a 16-unit supportive housing project for the elderly in Manchester which is the third and final phase on property that was the former site of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish. The 34-unit Phase I was completed and occupied in August 2010; Phase II, with 20 units, will be completed and occupied this month. SNHS is also constructing an on-site park to honor the Roman Catholic Church that once stood there.

SNHS third application for Section 202 housing in Derryfield did not make the cut this year, said SNHS spokesman Phil Grandmaison.

Jeff Woodburn of Dalton, who is a reporter for this Salmon Press newspaper as well as the Berlin Reporter, is the buyer's representative involved in this transaction.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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