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HAP grant to help redevelopment effort

Date: 12/9/2008

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

HOLYOKE Later this month, the Redevelopment Authority will accept $75,000 from HAP Inc. to jumpstart their multi-year urban renewal efforts.

The newly-formed five-member committee will be focusing on four city neighborhoods, including Prospect Heights and downtown, Flats, South Holyoke and Church Hill, according to Kathleen Anderson, executive director of the Redevelopment Authority, also director of Planning and Development.

She explained that the $75,000 from HAP Inc. will go toward drafting an extensive urban renewal plan for those areas. The plan will include mapping, demographics and statistics, possibilities for job creation, building redevelopment, retention estimates and financial estimates, Anderson added.

"The goal of the Redevelopment Authority is to place great importance on socioeconomic development [in those four neighborhoods]," she said. "These neighborhoods have [residents in] the lowest income brackets in the city. There is a high unemployment rate and abandonment of property [and] unsafe buildings."

Anderson noted that completing the urban renewal plan will take over a year and more than the $75,000 received from HAP Inc.

Carol Walker, director of Communications for HAP Inc., explained that her organization received the $75,000 through a grant from NeighborWorks America last month and then turned the funds over to the Redevelopment Authority. The money was presented to HAP as part of their new membership in the NeighborWorks America network, a non-profit organization established by Congress to provide financial and technical support to revitalization efforts.

Chris Harper-Fahey, manager of Communications and Public Affairs for the North East District of NeighborWorks America, said HAP underwent a "rigorous" application process in order to gain membership.

"We want to make sure [organizations] are meeting the needs of low-income people," she explained.

HAP Inc. Executive Director Peter Gagliardi said, "HAP is pleased to be able to provide this resource to Holyoke as the city develops its revitalization strategies. NeighborWorks America is a strong national partner that can bring new resources to the city and region."

Harper-Fahey explained that her organization has recognized Holyoke as a high-need area because of "high unemployment and community disinvestment."

Walker noted that because HAP Inc. is now a charter member of NeighborWorks America they will be eligible for additional monies from the organization to aid communities in their revitalization efforts.

Anderson said the Redevelopment Authority will meet on Dec. 17 to discuss the terms of the financial assistance from HAP Inc. as well as their timetable for generating the renewal plan.