ADAMS -- An opportunity to net 25 additional "enhanced" Section 8 housing vouchers escaped the town recently despite willingness from all entities involved to strike a deal.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would have granted the additional vouchers if Greylock Apartments paid their $50,000 mortgage to the department earlier than next month's due date.
"We'd been talking to HUD about it for a long time," said Greylock Apartments owner Donald Sommer on Thursday. " ... We wanted to [pay early] because we knew of 12 tenants here that would have benefited from a voucher. ... We were willing to do that to help our tenants."
Paying the mortgage early would have required borrowing from the bank, Sommer said.
If granted, Greylock Apartments would have received 10 vouchers and Adams Housing Authority the remaining 15.
Problems arose due to the nature of the enhanced Section 8 vouchers. Greylock Apartments' various complexes include 35 designated affordable housing units, all currently in use, that are classified as project-based -- tied to the space rather than the tenant.
Enhanced housing choice vouchers instead travel with tenants, who then choose a place to live.
Because Greylock Apartments is a private business, its rent costs are necessarily higher than other state-aided affordable housing in town.
Therefore, the business might have been borrowing to lose its own tenants.
To this end, the Housing Authority recently received $332,728 from the state Department of Housing and Community Development to repair the roof at Columbia Valley Housing for the Elderly, whereas Greylock Apartments pair $54,000 from its reserve account to re-roof several complexes in late 2011.
"It didn't seem like a very good risk on our part," Sommer said.
Richard Hamblin, executive director of the Housing Authority, called it a "missed opportunity."
"HUD was willing to keep [the vouchers] available to residents of Adams to address the need for affordable housing," he said Wednesday. "When [Greylock Apartments] took a look at the pluses and minuses, they decided not to go forward."
In other business, Sommer noted that next month marks the 40-year anniversary of Greylock Apartments.
"It's good living for people in Adams -- close to churches, schools, shopping," he said.
Rent there has not increased in three years.
Future plans, Sommer said, include additional roof repairs and maintenance work indoors.
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