Housing Authority Begins Rehab for Units
FITCHBURG — Less than two weeks ago, 47 Leyte Road, a city public housing unit, had a cockaroach infestation and damaged walls.
Now the two bedroom apartment in the Green Acres community boasts clean hardwood floors, a new oven, and is ready to rent. The rehabilitation was completed through state funding that will be used for a total of 40 units at the Fitchburg Housing Authority property.
“It’s like night and day,” said Doug Carpenter, a maintenance staff member who is part of the team that is fixing up the units.
The Housing Authority will use a nearly $250,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development to address vacancies at Green Acres.
Most of the authority’s vacanies have been there because the units — which range from two to four bedrooms and include basements — can be difficult to maintain, said Andrew Skoog, the Housing Authority’s deputy director.
The authority applied for the funding at the end of April, said Executive Director Doug Bushman. It was surprising that the money was approved about a week later.
“It’s one of the biggest awards the Housing Authority has seen in the past few years,” he said.
Bushman attributes the speed that the money was granted to support the authority’s Board of Director, Mayor, and City Council have had for the Housing Authority.
Maintenance staff and outside contractors will spruce up the Green Acres units to help get the authority’s overall vacany rate down to 3 percent from 11 percent.
Since January, overall vacancies have decreased from 15 percent, which was 80 vacancies, according to a May report from the Housing Authority.
The authority will need to complete the rehab work by Sept. 15 —a deadline set by the state — which includes installing new appliances, fixing walls and steps, and applying fresh coats of paint, Bushman said.
“We’re going to get it done,” he said.
The goal of fixing and maintaintaing the Housing Authority’s grounds and units is to help keep clients and attract new ones, Bushman said.
Maintenance staff has been working seven days a week to fix up the Green Acres units.
On Tuesday, they worked on a three bedroom at 90 Normany Road, which is in need of steps on the staircase, a new toilet, and wall repairs in the bedrooms.
Six students from the Shriver Job Corps with skills in painting and carpentry started this week to help at Green Acres during the summer, Bushman said. They are the first group through the paid program the Housing Authority approved last month.
They worked with the Housing Authority staff to cut wood with a circular saw and used plaster to smooth out bumps on the living room ceiling.
Addressing vacancies is part of the authority’s $440,000 Pathways to Success plan that is under consideration by the state.
Repairs and beautification efforts have been going on at the Housing Authority’s other properties, like cleaning up the front entrance to 50 Day St. near downtown.
Residents have noticed the change in appearance at Green Acres and at properties around the city, Bushman said.
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