$1.65 million in grants could go to social services, housing rehab
At its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, the Select Board refined its plans to spend $1.65 million in Community Development Block Grant money on social services and housing rehabilitation.
At a previous meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3, Wayne Darragh, who is responsible for administering grants for the town of Wareham, told the Select Board that due to a policy change, the town has received two years of grant money in a single year. However, the town does not have double the time to spend it.
Darragh and the Select Board discussed plans to spend $700,000 on a housing rehabilitation program. The program would provide grants and loans which would fund necessary home improvement projects for low and moderate-income homeowners.
“This is housing rehab, not housing renovation,” Darragh said. “We’re not here to give you new marble countertops… We’re here to bring your property up to code. We concentrate on plumbing issues, electrical issues, weatherization issues. We want these properties to be safe and sound.”
Homeowners who need immediate repairs, such as fixing a leaky roof, or disability accommodations can apply for emergency status within the program.
“We’ve still been taking applications even though there’s currently no funding,” Darragh said. “but once there is funding we’ll definitely be doing outreach.”
Even if there turn out to be more applicants than there is money to give, Darragh wants there to be a waiting list.
The town also plans to spend $400,000 on administrative services, and $280,000 on the Housing Authority’s plan to replace 168 windows in Redwood Park.
$270,000 will go to social services like Turning Point and Damien’s Place Family Food Pantry.
“While they do a wonderful job outside the boundaries of Wareham, the funds we’re providing them are for Wareham residents only,” Darragh explained.
Going over the list of projects to be funded, Select Board member Alan Slavin asked why there was no money going to the Council on Aging for GATRA transportation.
“I know for a fact the actual need [for GATRA] is increasing,” he said.
Darragh replied that in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused a massive decrease in ridership, GATRA has “money they haven’t spent yet.”
The Select Board has not yet made any final decisions on where the money will go. The final vote will take place at the Board’s next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21.
“I don’t want to tie us to those exact numbers,” Darragh said. “That’s sort of a scale we’re looking at, but that’s my recommendation.”
The town must apply for the funds no later than March 3.