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October 27. 2013 8:35PM

Brookbend affordable housing opens in Keene


U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., attended the grand opening ceremony of the Brookbend East and West low-income housing development in Keene (MEGHAN PIERCE)

KEENE — Rep. Annie Kuster promised to be an advocate for affordable housing in Washington, D.C., while speaking at the grand opening of the Brookbend East & West housing complex on Meadow Road Friday afternoon.

After the ceremony, the District 2 Democrat said while it is important to eliminate federal tax loopholes, tax credits that make low-income housing developments like Brookbend possible are vital in order to have thriving communities where all segments of the community have housing.

The affordable housing facility is operated by Keene Housing and features 75 one-, two- and three-bedroom units available to income eligible residents in and around Keene.

Brookbend is a redevelopment of Cheshire Housing that was built 40 years ago in the same location.

“The buildings were really showing their age. They were originally constructed for a different time and a different living style,” said David Bergeron of the Cheshire Homes Board of Directors.

The $14.7 million project received the majority of its funding through a federal tax break program, said Dean Christon, executive director of the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.

“About 70 percent of the money used to create this property was created by tax breaks,” said Christon, saying the low-income housing tax break program is the only significant source of federal funding for affordable and low-income housing.

Christon added that Home Program block grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funded another 20 percent of the project.

While cutting federal spending and the federal deficit is important, “If we lose either of those programs or both, there will just not be any more of these projects like this in New Hampshire quite frankly. So it's important that we all pull together to support those resources,” Christon said.Kuster said housing is one of her priorities and that she is impressed with the public-private partnership dimension of the project, something she will share with her colleagues back in D.C., she said.“This is community,” she said. “This is really what it's all about and this is what New Hampshire knows what to do, public-private partnerships. … I'm very proud to be your representative in Washington and just know that I'll be an advocate for housing.”

The development was designed to save energy and cut greenhouse emissions with Energy Star rated water heaters, energy efficient lighting and programmable thermostats, which together is expected to yield savings of about $5,000 annually for each unit as well as 11.8 tons of CO2 emissions.

“This project is an example of building for the 21st century,” said Keene Mayor Kendall Lane. “It's the project of the future.”

mpierce@newstote.com



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