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Reprinted from the Sentinel and Enterprise
By Joe Atmonavage
FITCHBURG — When Brian Taylor purchased a Summer Street property in April, hoping to provide quality low-income housing for families while turning a profit, he was going through his checklist of refurbishing the more than 100-year-old, three-unit property when he realized lead was going to have be removed.
While looking to hire a contractor to do the work, he was alerted that the city had money available to help investors and homeowners delead their properties.
SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / ASHLEY GREEN
Taylor, owner of 347 Summer St. in Fitchburg, speaks about the Montachusett Regional Lead Paint Hazard Control program.
In July, the Montachusett Regional Lead Paint Hazard Control program, which serves Fitchburg, Gardner, Clinton and Athol, received $3.2 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to pay for the inspection and deleading of 150 qualified homes at up to $10,000 each over the course of three years.
Seventy-five percent of Fitchburg homes built before 1978 screened positive for lead, and the screening rate for the city in 2015 was 58 percent, making Fitchburg one of the communities on the state’s “high-risk list for childhood lead poisoning,” said Jenna David, environmental programs director for Montachusett Opportunity Council, a partner in the deleading program.
Since 1978, state law requires any home with children 6 or younger to be inspected and made “ lead safe” by professionals because those children are “ especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
“This work would have been done, regardless of the program, but given that the program was available to me, it was extremely beneficial to me because it is saving me quite a bit of money,” Taylor said. “The other aspect is it really integrates you with the town and helps you understand the priorities of what the city of Fitchburg is about, which is providing healthy low income housing.”
Building owners in Fitchburg who apply for the program must have tenants who live in two bedroom apartments or larger and have a median income below $52,550.
For single-family homeowners, they must have a child under age 6 living in the home or visiting at least six hours a week. The household must have an income below $65,700.
Taylor, a Concord resident and a father of three, said safety of his residents is his No. 1 priority as landlord, and programs like these make it easy to protect families from dangerous conditions.
“If we are going to rent this out to anyone, we want healthy, safe spaces for people, and part of that is making sure there is no lead that is going to create a danger or pose a threat to a child,” Taylor said.
And while Taylor said the process, from applying for the money to meeting with a contractor the city brought in to do the work to the actually deleading of the property, was “seamless,” few others in Fitchburg have taken advantage of the available money.
In Fitchburg, only nine properties have completed the deleading process, said Shannon Erb, the coordinator for NewVue Communities, another partner in the program. There are 15 active cases in the city, she said.
“It has been a little slow going,” said Liz Murphy, Fitchburg’s director of housing and development. “We are not sure why folks aren’t applying. We have gotten quite a few applications, but not as many cases.”
When the city received the money in July, Murphy said the challenge of the program was going to be making sure they reach those residents who can, and should, apply. To do that, the program partners are increasing their outreach. Erb said NewVue, which handles the application process, has been doing direct mailing and holding meetings with various organizations about the program.
“We are hoping as the spring comes in, we increase the number of people who do the program,” said Madeline Mendoza, NewVue Communities’ homeownership program manager. “Overall, it has been positive,” said Mendoza. Homeowners “are grateful for the advantage of this program. They have been grateful and happy with it.”
Taylor is one of those residents — he stumbled upon the program — and he encourages anyone who has concerns about lead levels in their home to apply for the program.
“I would highly recommend to anyone who is looking to buy some investor property in Fitchburg or if you are a homeowner in Fitchburg, you should definitely think about it,” he said. “It is a win-win. It is a win for the city. It is a win for the people who live in the building,” Taylor added. “I can’t be more enthusiastic about the program.”
Brian Taylor, owner of 347 Summer St. in Fitchburg, talks about taking advantage of a grant to help remove lead from homes in the city.
SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / ASHLEY GREEN
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Reprinted from Sentinel and Enterprise.
FITCHBURG — After Beemers Pub & Grill burned down in March 2015, it was a treacherous road for owner Pete Cote to find a new location and reopen the business.
But he did, opening up the restaurant and bar on Main Street in September.
Now Cote is giving residents another option as the Falcons Nest Sports Bar opened up below Beemers at 310 Main St.
“I am calm,” Cote said after a hectic past year. “It is a whole burden off me. Now it is time to really focus on the business side of things.”
The intention when he purchased the building was to always have two establishments, giving patrons and local residents options.
The menu includes burgers, hot dogs, cajun shrimp, chicken wings or tenders, quesadillas, and other typical sports bar food. The food will be prepared in the Beemers kitchen, Cote said. The same 16 beers on tap at Beemers will be on tap at the Falcons Nest.
He said he plans on expanding the menu for the sports bar slightly to included various dishes from upstairs.
“This will be a twist on the upstairs food,” Cote said.
“No place around here has Diamond tables,” he said.
“When you go out to Vegas, those are the tables you play on.”
Cote said he has teams lined up for the pool league and hopes to have it begin soon.
“It helps everybody,” he said. “If you spend locally, things will improve.”
He said the goal of having Beemers upstairs and Falcons Nest downstairs is so people can have a quality sit-down meal upstairs and head downstairs to hang out and socialize, or head straight to the sports bar to watch a game and grab a quick meal.
“It’s different down here,” Cote said. “It is a relaxing atmosphere.”
NewVue Communities would like to thank each and every one of our donors who made 2016 a success! Your support makes our work in our communities possible and we couldn’t be more thankful for your gift.
Big thanks to our corporate and individual donors that utilized the Community Investment Tax Credit, we were able to utilize all of our 2016 credits!
2016 Corporate CITC Supporters
Alexander, Aronson, Finning & Co., P.C.
Athol Savings Bank
Davis Square Architects
Dorfman Company, Inc.
Hackett Feinberg PC
The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts
Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation
Rollstone Bank & Trust
Resource Management, Inc.
Wingate Management Co., LLC
Time is Running Out to Take Advantage of the State’s 50% Tax Credit
Donate to NewVue Communities by 12/31/16 and receive a 50% Tax Credit
The Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) is a refundable state tax credit aimed at forging new financial support and partnerships in support of community development corporations such as NewVue Communities. The CITC program enhances community support for the work of organizations like NewVue Communities. This program provides a 50% tax credit against Commonwealth of Massachusetts tax liability.
The CITC program is a refundable tax credit.
Donors will invest in the agency’s Community Investment Plan (i.e. our business plan) providing flexible working capital that can be used to seed new programs, fill funding gaps and leverage other resources and achieve maximum impact. If the donor does not have sufficient tax liability, the credit is refundable, whereby the Commonwealth will issue a check for the balance of the credit to the donor.
You can also make a CITC donation by calling or emailing: