HEARING ON COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT FUNDS
BY MELINA BOURDEAU
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13TH, 2018
GREENFIELD — Residents will have a chance to consider and discuss the use of the Community Development Block Grant at a public hearing on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at The Planning and Development Department at 114 Main Street.
Some of the suggestions have been to expand shelter beds at the Wells Street Shelter and single room occupancy (SRO) units, as well as complete some sidewalk projects. Some are proposing that this year’s $825,000 Community Development Block Grant be used to shelter the homeless, among other things.
According to Economic and Community Development Director MJ Adams, the proposed use of funds for the SRO and extra shelter beds is “a response to the problem of homelessness in Greenfield. The mayor made a plan to respond, and we’re working on the plan.”
She said the funds would help address the shortage of beds at the Wells Street emergency shelter and create a pipeline to allow people to step into the next step from a shelter.
“This will allow people to step into an appropriate, sustainable type of housing, one step below a studio apartment,” Adams said.
A single-room occupancy unit is entry-level housing, where people can rent a room and have a shared common area — similar to dorm living, Adams explained. It is proposed that the CDBG funds would be used to establish SROs at 140 High St., which used to be a group home. That location currently needs to be brought up to code.
CDBG funds are also proposed to add 12 to 14 beds in the Wells Street Shelter.
Last month, Senior Vice-president of Shelter and Housing, Vocational and Addiction Services at ServiceNet Jay Sacchetti spoke with the City Council Community Relations and Education Committee about updates to the Wells Street overnight emergency shelter, including information about an addition of 12 to 14 beds for individuals from November through January.
There are a total of 22 beds currently at the shelter, and the increase would bring that number to 34 to 36 beds.
“We are moving forward with our expansion of our Wells Street shelter on the second floor,” Sacchetti said. “The architect finished the site plan on Friday, and today I communicated with the landlord. Hopefully, we will be able to get together to discuss it.”
He said once the bathrooms and alarm systems are completed, the project will be completed quickly, hoping to have the expansion open on Nov. 1.
Adams said the funds towards the sidewalks would go towards what was prioritized in the ADA self-assessment.