Julia Gitis, Presidential Management Fellow, HUD’s Boston Regional Office
Every day, local Housing Authorities (HAs) face the challenge of providing affordable housing to their residents. Much of the hard work goes unrecognized. Recently, at the annual awards dinner of the Watertown-Belmont Chamber of Commerce, the Watertown Housing Authority was spotlighted with a Special Recognition Award. This was a day to celebrate the accomplishments and dedication of staff across several agencies in providing affordable housing to the Watertown community. Brian Costello, Executive Director of the Watertown Housing Authority, takes pride in the fact that “the recently renovated elderly complex now known as the E. Joyce Munger Apartments is a shining example of what senior housing should be.”
Watertown, a city west of Boston, has one federally funded development. Originally built in the early 1980s, it was falling apart and even under discussion to be demolished. Staff from the Boston Office of Public Housing worked closely with the HA to discuss possible solutions to address three decades of leaking roofs. The housing authority applied for and was awarded a $3.75 million competitive grant through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA). “If not for President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, this complex would now simply be a concrete pad. Instead we have a beautiful structure that will continue to serve the community for many, many years to come,” said Mr. Costello.
When the HA received the funds, they immediately moved to procure bids and remedy all of the structural deficiencies from the original construction. The work was completed last December. Dwight Hebert, senior facilities management specialist at HUD, remarks: “I had an opportunity to visit this site and was so taken by the metamorphosis. The building is not your stereotypical public housing façade and the interior is equally warm and inviting.” The building includes 50 units of senior housing.
“This is just one example of the successful collaborative efforts taking place throughout our region between HUD staff and our partners to improve the quality of life for residents,” said Regional Administrator Barbara Fields. As residents praise the leadership of both HUD and the Watertown HA in the effective rehabilitation effort, Region 1 is proud to be a partner in these efforts.