WINCHESTER, N.H. -- The town has applied for a Community Development Block Grant to help rebuild 15 duplexes of an aging housing project.
Wedgewood, which utilizes U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development money and was purchased by the Keene Housing Authority 10 years ago, is more than 40 years old and sits along Route 10 near the downtown area. The new grant would be administered by the USDA's Pre-Development Planning Grant program, which awards pre-development and planning funds to projects in rural communities.
Keith Thibault, chief development officer for Southwestern Community Services, a non-profit organization based in Keene that develops much of the region's low-income housing and works in collaboration with KHA, told the Reformer the town has applied for up to $500,000 in Community Development Block Grants.
He said the plan is to use the funds to tear down the 15 duplexes, which make up 30 housing units, and rebuild them in a fashion that makes sense for the site. Thibault said the units face some topographical challenges, as some stand on wet land.
He said Southwestern Community Services, which manages low- to moderate-income housing developments and owns 60 units in Winchester, will take ownership of the 15 Wedgewood duplexes once the project is completed.
Thibault said Winchester applied for the same grant last year but was denied. He said the town likely will find out by the end of October if it will receive the money and, if it does, construction could start next April or May.
"We think we're doing good by the town and the town is supporting us by applying for the grant," he said, adding that only towns can apply for the CDBG grants. "I think we have a real good chance this year. I really do."
Winchester Town Administrator Shelly Walker was out of the office last week and unavailable for comment.
But Winchester is just one of the two Cheshire County towns vying for CDBG money. Hinsdale has also applied for a grant -- also for up to $500,000 -- to upgrade Oak Hill Acres Cooperative's sewer and water infrastructure. Town Administrator Jill Collins said a feasibility study conducted a few years ago revealed the need for the improvements. Hinsdale also has applied for $800,000 in Rural Development Grants.
Oak Hill Acres Cooperative, a local cooperative housing park, already has learned it will receive a $11,250 federal grant that will allow an engineer to conduct preliminary engineering and environmental reports to repair its leaking water system, which supports the community's 47 homes.
"Clean water is essential to every community," stated U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster, D-N.H., in a press release. "This funding will help residents of the park repair their water system and remain in their homes. I applaud the residents of Oak Hill Acres for their planning and foresight in seeking these funds."
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