Holyoke, Massachusetts’ public housing authority was chosen this week for inclusion in a federal program aimed at allowing the authority to use federal dollars more efficiently and fund programs not directly related to housing.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development chose four housing authorities in the country to join its so called “Moving to Work” program this year. The program doesn’t grant any additional funding, but it will allow the Holyoke Housing Authority to waive certain federal restrictions on its existing funds in the pursuit of reducing costs and providing more efficient subsidized housing services. Rosalie Deane, executive director of the Holyoke authority, says her organization can now take excess Section 8 housing funds, for example, and put the funds towards other programs.
“Now that we’ve gotten this approval, we can take some of our money from our Section 8 reserves, and we can put it in to these creative partnerships. You’re allowed a lot more flexibility within the regulations.”
Deane says the housing authority will work with Holyoke Community College and other community organizations to provide job training programs to subsidized housing tenants. She says funds will also be used for homelessness prevention and programs that transition residents from subsidized housing to home ownership. The housing authority will also work to revitalize downtown neighborhoods as part of the city of Holyoke’s redevelopment plan. That includes the Lyman Terrace housing project, Holyoke’s oldest public housing complex. Deane says the housing authority is currently conducting a study to determine whether it will demolish or rehabilitate Lyman Terrace.