2010 CDBG Mini-Entitlement Award Non-Social Service Activities The Town is using 2010 funds to contribute to on-going projects to construct and preserve affordable housing in Amherst:
Amherst Housing Authority: The Amherst Housing Authority is embarking on a major project to modernize and preserve 22 units of their affordable rental stock. CDBG funding will contribute to this effort by providing funds to modernize and preserve 4 units of rental housing on Olympia Drive. Additional funding will come from the Town's Community Preservation Act funds and the Department of Housing and Community Development will match these funds for a total of over 1.2 million dollars.
Olympia Drive Infrastructure Development: The Town requested and received these funds to contribute to infrastructure development for the construction of 42 units of affordable housing at Olympia Drive. As the $750,000 was not sufficient to complete infrastructure development (see below), the town requested additional funds as part of the 2010 CDBG grant application.
Social Services Activities
$55,000 - Childcare tuition Assistance: The Town will continue to provide tuition assistance to low-and moderate-income families for their children to attend area childcare programs and continue to work or attend school.
$25,000 - Big Brother Big Sister mentoring program: The Town has a long history of providing support for Big Brother Big Sister of Hampshire County. These funds will be used to support their school-based mentoring program, “Kids to Campus” (see below).
$20,000 - Amherst Survival Center: The Town also has a long history of providing funding for the Amherst Survival Center. These funds will support the Amherst Family’s Center Family Night.
$75,000 - Permanent Shelter: The Town will provide $55,000 to contribute to the operation of a permanent shelter for single homeless men and women.
$37,000 - LSSE Primetime: Funds will be used to provide financial support for low- and moderate-income families with children attending the Leisure Service and Supplemental Education and afterschool program (Primetime).
2009 Community Development Fund Award
$750,000 - Architectural Design and pre-development costs at Olympia Drive: The Town was awarded these funds from CDBG reserve funds for infrastructure development of affordable housing at Olympia Drive. These funds will allow the Town to prepare the Olympia Drive site for housing development, a CDBG eligible expense. The award was in addition to the Town's 2009 Mini-Entitlement award. The total cost of infrastructure development was on the order of 1 million dollars.
2009 CDBG Mini-Entitlement Funding Award Non-Social Service Activities
$450,000 - Housing for Homeless Individuals: The Town requested $450,000 to provide permanent housing for homeless individuals. Valley Community Development Corporation, as part of a feasibility study to determine preferred locations to house homeless individuals, identified a property on North Pleasant St., known as Mt. Pleasant Apartments, as the most suitable place to house homeless individuals. Based on this assessment, and working with the Interfaith Housing Corporation, the Town began to investigate this property in earnest. It was determined that the most appropriate approach would be for the Interfaith Housing Corporation to become the owner of the property and they in turn began negotiating with the owner to reach terms for a sale. Interfaith Housing determined that Valley Community Development Corporation would be the preferred developer for this project. Unfortunately, after prolonged negotiation, no agreement could be reached.
As the Town is required to spend a significant portion of this award by December 10, 2010, it was forced to reallocate these funds to other projects.
At a public hearing on August 24, 2010, the Community Development Committee heard several requests for funding from Town Committees and citizens. After review of these suggestions the Committee decided to recommend (to the Town Manager) funding for the following:
$200,000 - Olympia Drive housing architectural design and pre-development expense: The Town has owned this property for over 20 years which was originally taken by eminent domain for affordable housing and conservation purposes. It has been supported numerous times by the Amherst Housing Partnership/Fair Housing Committee, the Amherst Select Board, the Community Preservation Act Committee, Amherst Town Meeting and the Community Development Committee. The need for additional affordable rental housing has been documented by the Town’s 2003 Affordable Housing Update. As the Town proceeds with this project, providing additional funding for architectural design and pre-development expense will improve the chances of further funding for this project.
$75,000 - Amherst Survival Center: The Town has provided support for the Amherst Survival Center for many years and it is clear to most that the current space in the North Amherst School is in adequate. The Amherst Survival Center has purchased a property that with substantial renovation and new construction will provide additional space so that they may continue to focus services on the most vulnerable citizens of Amherst. The Amherst Survival Center will use these funds for architectural Design that will then allow them to develop a capital plan to raise the funds they need to rebuild a state of the art facility for their clients.
$26,000 - Installation of Audible Crossing Signals: The Disability Access Advisory Committee (DAAC) requested funds to improve accessibility within the Town Center and village centers by installing audible crossing signals at major intersections. This request furthers efforts by the Department of Public Works to improve public infrastructure within Amherst, and is identified as a priority within the Town's Disability Access Transition Plan.
$80,000 - Amherst Community Childcare Center: The Town used CDBG funds to construct this childcare center in 1990 and is in need of funds for capital repair, including painting inside and out and carpet replacement.
The CDC will review their recommendations for additional items in order to allocate all of the $450,000.
Social Service Activities
$25,000 - Big Brother Big Sister of Hampshire County: To support the “Kids to Campus” project, which will create and support 1-to-1 site-based mentoring relationships for 30 children (grades 4-8) referred to us by the Amherst Schools, with college students from Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts, and will take place on the 2 campuses.
$20,000 - Amherst Survival Center: The Amherst Survival Center will use funds to operate Family Night Program which will welcome 20-25 families to the Center twice monthly. The Center will provide a simple supper and arts and crafts activities for the children, while parents are able to get a monthly food box from the Pantry and shop for clothing and house wares in our Free Store. We also have information available about all of our services, and we have prepared a simple questionnaire so that we can get a better sense of what people might like to see at future Family Nights.
$9,587 - Cambodian Outreach Worker: Funds were used to provide support for the Cambodian Outreach Worker as this service was in jeopardy of terminated prior to the end of the fiscal year. This small amount of funding enabled the service to continue until June of 2010.
$13013 - LSSE Prime Time: Funds will be used to provide financial support for low- and moderate-income families with children attending the Leisure Service and Supplemental Education and afterschool program (Primetime).
$75,000 - Childcare tuition Assistance: The Town continued to use CDBG funds to provide childcare tuition assistance for low- and moderate-income households with children attending childcare centers.
2008 CDBG Mini-Entitlement Funding Award During the fall of FY 08 the Town was notified by DHCD that it will be designated a mini-entitlement community for 2 years after which the Department (DHCD) will reevaluate each communities status. The Town’s FY 08 CDBG grant request included the following:
$480,143 - North Amherst School: The Town requested funding for building repair and improvements at the North Amherst School that included re-pointing bricks, fixing window trim, the front steps and all handicapped accessible ramps. The Town requested a variance from the Architectural Access Board’s requirement to construct a handicapped accessible ramp at the east entrance to the building. Due to the fact that the actually cost of this activity was $331,832, the Town was able to complete other important projects: funding was provided to Valley Main Street LLC to comply with the Building Department requirements that front and back entrances of the Main Street Housing Project are accessible for disabled individuals; funding was also provided to the Amherst Housing Authority to replace 10 boilers at Watson Farms Apartments as the useful life of these heating systems had expired.
$85,000 - Homeless Outreach: The Town requested funding to provide case management and outreach services for homeless individuals. The Center for Human Development was contracted to provide services as specified in the grant agreement. $11,690 of these funds was used to contribute to the operation of the Town’s warming place/emergency shelter for the period through April of 2010.
$75,000 - Childcare Tuition Assistance: The Town requested $75,000 to continue to provide childcare subsidies for low-and moderate-income households with parents working or attending school.
2007 CDBG Mini-Entitlement Funding Award
During the summer of FY 08 the Town received notification that its FY 07 grant was approved for $275,000. The Community Services Department began program implementation during the fall of FY 08 by responding to a series of special conditions and completing an environmental review as required by CDBG and HUD regulations.
The Community Services Department began program implementation of this program during the fall of FY 07 by responding to a series of special conditions and completing an environmental review of each activity for the above activities.
Barrier Removal: The Town received $23,400 in order to modify the elevator and 2 bathrooms in the Bangs Community Center in order that they are usable by individuals of all abilities. The elevator modifications will be finished this fall but it appears that the bathrooms are already in compliance and therefore these funds will be reallocated to other activities.
Mortgage Subsidy Program: The Town was awarded $150,000 to provide funding for an additional 3 low- and moderate-income households to participate in the mortgage buy-down program. These homes will also be permanently deed restricted and therefore be affordable in perpetuity. To this date 2 households have received funding to purchase homes and Amherst; it is hoped another household will be able to purchase a home by December 31, 2008.
Childcare Tuition Assistance: The Town received $55,000 to continue to provide childcare subsidies for low-and moderate-income households with parents working or attending school.
2007 Housing Development Support Grant Program
Chestnut Ct. Kitchen Renovation: As part of the Town’s FY 05 Community Development Block Grant, the Town provided funding for the design phase of a renovation project of kitchens at Chestnut Court Apartments, a disabled and elderly housing development owned by the Amherst Housing Authority. During the fall of FY 07, the Town responded to a request for proposal from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development for funding to complete this renovation project.
During the fall of FY 08 the Department completed all the paperwork required to begin contracting for services for the renovation of the kitchens at Chestnut Ct. Apartment. The Town, during January of 2008, first signed a contract with the Amherst Housing Authority, which was required to develop bid specifications that complied with Chapter 149, the state’s construction law, but also with all federal CDBG and HUD requirements, The Town was also responsible for relocating tenants while their kitchens are being renovated - this involved bidding and contracting with movers and packers, locating appropriate hotel space, contracting for food, cleaning of units after renovation and other miscellaneous services. The general bids were due on March 12, 2008 - the low bidder was Thayer Street Associates. As the project was ready to begin, it turned out that the cabinets that were ordered were not correct and therefore as of June 30, 2008 construction had not begun.
2006 CDBG Mini-Entitlement Funding Award
In July of 2006, the Town was awarded $600,000 to begin its second CDBG grant. Activities included:
$350,000 - Valley Community Development Corporation: These funds were be used to help fund the construction of 11 units of rental housing for low- and moderate income Amherst residents. Construction of these housing units was complete during the fall of 2008 with occupancy beginning on November 1, 2008.
$66,912 - Family Outreach of Amherst: These funds were used to sub-contract with Family Outreach of Amherst, a program of the Center for Human Development, to hire a Family Service Coordinator who helped families obtain resources, develop supportive connections, and reduce social isolation and improve access to services that will promote the healthy psychosocial and emotional development of young children. This support, for families with children attending grades 6 - 12, addressed social service needs by providing a way for families to locate the services they are in most need of that include; short-term mental health counseling, parent education workshops, case-management services, and parent-child home visiting education, health services, childcare and others.
$75,000 - Childcare Tuition Assistance: $75,000 was used to provide approximately 10 low- and moderate-income families with an average grant award off $7,500 per year. The amount of funding each household received was based on the Massachusetts Early Education and Care sliding fee scale that establishes parent fees based on household size and income (attachment, state sliding fee scale). The Amherst program pays providers the difference between their published rate and the amount that each household is required to pay. 100% of the families receiving financial tuition assistance will be low and moderate-income; they will all be certified income-eligible by submitting third party documentation, verifying their gross household income as described above. The program serves income-eligible households with infants (0 - 15 months), toddlers (15 months - 2.9 years of age) and pre-school age children for whom no other funds are available. All Daycare Centers or Family Daycare Providers are required to be licensed or registered with the Massachusetts Early Education and Care Department.