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Another home is saved in Old Hill neighborhood

Date: 12/20/2011

Dec. 21, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — The announcement of the renovation of another home in the Old Hill neighborhood was part status report and part pitch to support several initiatives from the Obama Administration.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Administrator Barbara Fields visited 176 Quincy St., which was renovated by HAP Housing and sold to Francisco and Johanna Ramos, who will be shortly moving into their first home.

Fields said the home is an example of how National Stabilization Funding (NSP) can be used to reverse the effects of foreclosure and abandonment in a neighborhood. She also said the passage of the American Jobs Act and Project Rebuild would continue the rebuilding of neighborhoods.

The NSP has put neighborhoods “on the trail of a comeback,” she said. Fields added in three-quarters of the neighborhoods in which homes have been renovated with NSP funding, the vacancy rate has decreased and the home prices have begun increasing.

Fields congratulated the partners in the effort to revive the neighborhood and called the renovation of the home on Quincy Street part of an “overall revitalization strategy.”

Mayor Domenic Sarno said the city has received $3.5 million in NSP funds. He explained the city’s policies of aggressive Building Code enforcement along with the taking of properties for unpaid taxes, demolition of derelict buildings and the Buy Springfield program have been used to aid neighborhoods.

“If there has ever been a scourge, it is the foreclosure impact on this neighborhood and others,” Sarno said.

Sarno also endorsed the American Jobs Act and Project Rebuild.

The home on Quincy Street is part of the 100 new home campaign undertaken several years ago in the Old Hill neighborhood. Peter Gagliardi, executive director of HAP Housing, explained there were 46 parcels on the block and 22 of them were vacant or boarded up. The coalition of groups working in the neighborhood, he said, included Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services, Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together.

The result, he added, is that property owners themselves are now making investments in the homes.

Gagliardi said he had been watching the home at 176 Quincy St. for a long time. It had been abandoned.

“It was a pleasure for us to see this house come back to life,” he said. “It is too nice a little property not to bring it back.”

Francisco Ramos and his wife currently live in Holyoke and found out about the house when looking at properties on the Internet. It is the couple’s first home and he said they were able to purchase it through a first-time homebuyers program.

Sarno asked, “What better Christmas or holiday gift than a home?”

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