June 06, 2018MEREDITH — The town will hold public hearings to apply for a federal grant on behalf of a local affordable housing project.
The town will apply for a Community Development Block Grant for Lakes Region Community Developers' project to rehabilitate 25 housing units at Deer Run on Pleasant Street.
On Monday, Community Development Director John Edgar said to the board of selectmen that last fall he was approached by the former Laconia Area Community Land Trust about whether the town had an interest in supporting a grant application. Edgar said when this came up in the fall the town was in the middle of its budget preparations and didn't have time to address this. The LACLT, now called Lakes Region Community Developers, approached the town again about the grant application, which is now being brought to the board.
Sal Steven-Hubbard, Real Estate Developer for Lakes Region Community Developers, said in fall of 2016 the mortgage at Deer Run Apartments was about to be paid off. As a result the complex would no longer be required to be designated affordable by the federal government. Lakes Region Community Developers purchased the property with a new mortgage through USDA Rural Development and will keep with a subsidy period of 40 years.
"(The) property is 40-years-old, it's in not great shape; it could use a lot of upgrades," Steven-Hubbard said.
They are aiming to do some significant upgrades to the complex, including siding, roofing, interior upgrades, improved handicap access, a meeting room for tenants, redoing the playgrounds, resurfacing the parking lot, and more. She said they want to bring it up to 21st century standards.
The organization would like to apply for a Community Development Block Grant for the project through the town.
Town Manager Phil Warren said the town is eligible to apply for CDBG funding and the organization is not. He said there would be an understanding that if they receive the grant all costs for the project would be the responsibility of the organization and not the town.
As work will be done in the individual units, residents will be temporarily relocated for as much as three months. Steven-Hubbard said they would be relocated to a vacant unit in the building or to another property owned by Lakes Region Community Developers. If that isn't possible they would be relocated to a vacant apartment somewhere else or put up in a hotel. Steven Hubbard said the organization will cover all relocation costs and none of this will fall on the town.
Work in the individual units will include life safety upgrades as well as upgrades to flooring and kitchens. They will examine whether a sprinkler system can be installed in the units. Steven-Hubbard said all of this work will overall improve life safety, tenant comfort, and energy efficiency.
Edgar said this is going to be a large project with a lot of moving pieces.
Steven-Hubbard said they are pursuing a low income housing grant through CDBG as well as other sources of funding through the federal government. She said these grants will be filed over the summer and they hope to hear positive news in the fall through mid December. They will work towards construction loan closing in March and will aim to start construction in March or April of 2019.
Donna Lane, who is writing the grant application for the project, said the town will need to hold three public hearings on this. One will be to approve the CDBG application, one to adopt an updated Housing and Community Development Plan, and the third to adopt a Anti-Displacement Relocation Assistance Plan. Edgar said the town will make sure language goes into this last plan that the organization will be responsible for any costs and not the town.
"We have to take care of moving them, cover all the costs, make it as painless as possible," Lane said.
Edgar said the town has applied for CDBG funding for different projects in the past and has been successful.
The selectmen gave consensus approval to hold these consecutive public hearings on July 16.