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HUD funding to help pay for replacement housing

April 23, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown Housing Authority is planning to build a 60-unit public housing facility for seniors to make up for a deficit of units it created when it replaced the former Westview Homes housing project with Gateway Crossing.

Executive Director Ted Shankle said the authority formally requested Housing and Urban Development funding in October for the estimated $9 million project as part of HUD's replacement housing program. HUD has agreed to give the authority $350,000 a year for five years toward the cost of the project, or for the next 10 years if the authority secures additional funding from other sources.

Shankle said Westview had 210 public housing units. Gateway Crossing, he said, has only 150 duplex-style public housing units mixed with 140 market-rated rentals and 62 homes available for purchase. Shankle said since 60 public housing units were eliminated between Westview and Gateway Crossing, the authority was able to seek funding to provide those units elsewhere.

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He said the authority is looking to build a new, 60-unit, three- or four story public housing structure at the former H.L. Mills building at 45 W. Baltimore St., property the authority already owns. He said the project is not the authority's highest priority because it also is managing the continued development of Gateway Crossing and the 2,000 rental units it maintains within the city.

"That is a project that we honestly don't want to get into until we're finished with Hope VI (the Gateway Crossing project)," Shankle said.

Hagerstown City Councilwoman Carol Moller, liaison to the housing authority, said she believes the concept is a good one. Based on the success of Potomac Towers, another authority-managed public housing building for seniors, Moller said she is confident the authority will be able to professionally build and maintain the new units.

"I'm in favor of it, with the other one and how well that's run, and I think there's every reason (to believe) it will be a real nice building," she said. "I think they do, and address, everything in a very nice manner."

The authority is seeking proposals from developers for the project, and Shankle said he expects to select a contractor within the next few months. Construction would not begin for at least five or six years, he said, and the authority has not formally sought approval from the city.

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