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December 06. 2012 10:42PM

Coos County grants to go to housing

BERLIN - A half-million-dollar housing grant to Coos County and a public facilities grant of more than $400,000 to Berlin top the latest round of New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority funding.

The effort will include creating about 130 new units of affordable housing, CDFA officials said.

The block grants, totaling more than $3 million, will go to seven communities and counties in the Granite State and are aimed at providing a wide range of benefits that include new senior housing, upgraded heating capabilities, high-end weatherization and building renovation and expansion.

The grants, according to CDFA officials, double the amount of funding the authority has distributed to communities this year, and follow $3.1 million in grants awarded during the first part of 2012.

"The communities awarded are doing innovative things by adapting existing structures and making them into affordable housing for seniors or families. These are exceptional projects they're running," Kevin Flynn, CDFA's communication director, said Thursday in a news release.

Notre Dame School

The Coos County grant on behalf of the Tri-County Community Action Program will help convert the vacant Notre Dame School building into 33 units of ADA accessible senior housing. Berlin city officials have conducted an environmental clean-up of the site, but the 105-year-old landmark building remains an eyesore and public hazard, according to CDFA officials who believe the new use for the old school will foster revitalization and address the region's need for affordable elderly housing.

Berlin will benefit further from a $402,000 public facilities grant - again on behalf of Tri-County - aimed at addressing energy conservation at the Angel Guardian Resource Center.

That 100-year-old building will get a high-end weatherization overhaul, including installation of three wood pellet boilers. Reducing energy costs by the expected 35 percent will free up money for increased programming for the service agencies operating there, including Head Start, North Country Elder Programs, and Meals on Wheels.

More grants

Block grants will also go to the following New Hampshire communities:

-- Milford: $388,800 for site work related to the conservation of a historic mill structure, converting it to 50 units of low-cost housing. The Pine Valley Mill Affordable Family Apartments project will address the town's lack of quality affordable housing and save the old structure along the Souhegan River.

-- Marlborough: A $500,000 housing grant on behalf of Southwestern Community Services to create 24 senior units at a vacant elementary school. The school will be renovated into the Marlborough Homes Senior Housing, serving the poorest of the community's elderly population.

-- Wolfeboro: A $500,000 grant on behalf of the Eastern Lakes Region Housing Coalition to aid in the creation of another 24 units of workforce housing at Harriman Hill. The award will pay for site work to begin Phase II.

-- Concord: A $500,000 public facilities award for the renovation and expansion of the Concord Boys and Girls Club. The expanded space will allow the organization to increase the number of low- to moderate-income children they serve.

-- Conway: A $266,342 housing grant to help pay for the buyout of 13 homes left uninhabitable by damage from Tropical Storm Irene. The award will supplement the town's portion of a FEMA grant to raze the structures and return the land along the Saco River to permanent green space.

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Bob Hookway may be reached at bhookway@newstote.com.

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