The Revere Housing Authority (RHA) is preparing to embark on an aggressive schedule to repair 14 units at five scattered-site properties throughout the Shirley Avenue area.
Executive Director Linda Shaw and Board Member George Anzuoni announced the $1.6 million project this week, saying that it hinged upon an $800,000 grant from the state that finally came through last month after years and years of requests.
The properties include:
•47 Nahant Ave.
•65 Thornton St.
•174-176 Hichborn St.
•20-22 Thornton St.
•168-170 Hichborn St.
“We’ve already retained GDA Architects to do the work at 47 Nahant Avenue,” said Shaw. “They’re going to do everything in the property except the painting. We’ll do that interior painting in-house. On 20-22 Thornton Street, we’re getting to work right away. One reason we got this money is RHA has demonstrated we can handle this kind of project with our own staff picking up the loose ends. We showed that last year with the rehab of Dana Street and 110-112 Shirley Avenue. We want to expand our low-income housing and we want to be good neighbors to our neighbors. We don’t want our properties to be the ones that people point to as a problem.”
However, that has been just the case for years. The problem with the scattered site RHA properties goes way back and was a problem long before Shaw came to the authority. In the first months she was there, neighbors in the area voiced their frustrations with the boarded up and long-vacant properties – actually sending pictures to this paper and letters to the editor.
Shaw and Anzuoni said they took that to heart, and every since then have requested money from the state to assist them in repairing the units and getting them back online. Last year, the RHA was given a trial run on two properties. This year, they were given the full amount necessary to fix all five.
Now, they are ready to go.
“This will take one year,” said Anzuoni matter of factly. “We’re ready to spend this money right away. We’ve lost these properties for too many years. In one year, we’ll have it fully rented out. Some of these haven’t been rented for a long time. One of the Hichborn Street properties was off line for 4,000 days. If you add up all the day of vacancy on all these units, it equals 33 years. We haven’t received rent during all of that time. We just never had the money to fix them up.”
Anzuoni added that it is particularly exciting to be able to return the units to low-income housing, as there was a time not too long ago when the RHA nearly sold all of the units to a non-profit for $1. It was basically a move to rid them of the properties and put them in the hands of someone who had the resources to fix them.
“The board said ‘no’ to that, and now Paul McPartland at the state developed a financial plan that allowed us to renovate and retain our scattered sites,” he said. “After a back and forth with them, it was forwarded to management and approved. I am very glad we didn’t sell it. We believe in public housing.”
Shaw said the scattered site housing is a great option for low-income families, and that the RHA has had a good track record of those families living in the properties.
“Thus far, we’ve had a good track record with the people who we put in our most recently rehabilitated properties,” she said. “We look forward to fixing up the buildings. It gives residents a sense of ownership and a point of pride. They tend to keep them up both inside and outside. It makes the residents feel there isn’t a property in the neighborhood with a stigma attached to it.”
The project is funded primarily with the $800,000 grant from the state, as well as funds to de-lead units, annual funding awards and emergency funds.