McGovern announces emergency funding for public housing

  • Morton Meadows, part of of the Athol Housing Authority, in Athol. STAFF PHOTO/GREG VINE

  • The Greenfield Housing Authority at Elm Terrace on Elm Street in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority in Montague. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 5/25/2020 2:07:50 PM
Modified: 5/25/2020 2:07:46 PM

Three public housing authorities in this area are among 15 in the state set to benefit from $3.6 million coming from the federal government and being made available through two grant programs.

Increased funding for the Greenfield, Franklin Regional and Athol housing authorities was approved by Congress through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, it was announced earlier this month by the office of U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat representing the Second Congressional District of Massachusetts.

Greenfield will receive $112,258 while Franklin Regional gets $130,126 and $12,886 goes to Athol. Congress approved $3,604,510 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for Massachusetts public housing authorities.

According to McGovern’s office, the CARES Act authorized emergency supplemental grants through the HUD Operating Fund to maintain the operation of public housing, and Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, which funds the Housing Choice Voucher program. Neither have to be paid back.

William “Hank” Abrashkin, a former trial court judge who became the Greenfield Housing Authority’s executive director March 30, said the money can be used for only federally funded, Section 8 housing. He explained all Section 8 residents must every year provide information about their countable income in order for their housing costs to be subsidized. He said there are roughly 550 residents of Section 8 housing in Greenfield.

Abrashkin said if a resident loses a job due to the strain the global COVID-19 pandemic has put on the economy, a staffer will work with that person to adjust the amount of rent owed. He said the cost of this administrative time will be paid for with the new grant money, which will also cover the expense of mailing information to residents to keep them informed about COVID-19 and how it affects them and to have maintenance crews sanitize workspaces.

News of this grant funding came a week before HUD announced the Greenfield and Franklin Regional housing authorities will catch money in a fourth wave of CARES Act funding. Greenfield will get $19,710 and Franklin Regional will be the recipient of $20,510.

The $4.8 million coming to Massachusetts is part of almost $77 million being awarded nationally to support up to 8,300 additional vouchers. The money will provide affordable housing to non-elderly people living with disabilities, according to HUD.

“This funding will provide stable housing to some of Massachusetts most vulnerable residents, which is critical now more than ever in this fight against COVID-19,” HUD New England Regional Administrator David Tille said in a statement. 

“As we continue to fight this invisible enemy, we are working quickly and effectively to ensure public housing authorities nationwide are receiving the necessary funding needed to keep their residents safe,” HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson said in the statement. “This wave of relief funds will provide additional housing choice vouchers to residents living with disabilities, allowing them to live safely and independently through these unprecedented times.”

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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