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Berlin fights to save grant for housing

Union Leader Correspondent

January 10. 2013 11:01PM

BERLIN - The city is fighting to keep a $7.5 million finance package intact for the Notre Dame Senior Housing project.

Pam Laflamme, city planner, said Thursday the city is asking the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority to let a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant stand.

The grant was withdrawn last month because of financial issues at the Tri-County Community Action Program, which was developing the senior housing project. The city council voted Monday night to make Littleton-based AHEAD the developer instead.

The project to renovate the 105-year-old Notre Dame building into 33 affordable senior housing units for low- and moderate-income residents is very important to the city, Laflamme said.

"We don't want to slow that momentum down," Laflamme said.

Applications for the next round of CDBG funding are due Jan. 28, and there's no guarantee that the Notre Dame project would be successful in the next competitive round, she said.

Kevin Flynn, spokesperson for CDFA, said that while the Notre Dame proponents are advocating very hard, "our hands are tied" and they will have to reapply.

Laflamme said that Mayor Paul Grenier will be talking further with CDFA officials.

The project's other funders are "all graciously working with us" and are in a holding pattern, Laflamme said. AHEAD is regarded "with a high level of respect" and has a proven track record, she said.

AHEAD describes itself on its website as "a community-based housing development organization." It owns and operates 304 units of affordable multifamily rental housing in nine northern New Hampshire communities.

The Notre Dame building served as a Catholic high school from the early 1940s to 1972. A decade ago, alumni came together to save the building, heading up a successful effort to procure grants for environmental remediation and other site work.

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