SHEFFIELD — Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation’s HousingUs initiative today announced over $30,000 in grants to five lead organizations to plan and convene outreach activities that bring residents together to explore the interrelated issues of affordable housing, economic development, and town-center vitality. The awards follow a request for proposals announced in mid-July that has resulted in at least one funded project in each of the four counties Berkshire Taconic serves.
“Affordable housing and economic development are mutually reinforcing elements of a healthy community and pressing issues for our region,” said David Rich, chair of the HousingUs advisory board and a Berkshire Taconic board member. “With these grants, HousingUs aims to inspire innovative thinking and cross-sector collaboration that can lead to sustainable solutions for our towns.”
Locally, one of the grants was an $8,000 award to Berkshire Regional Planning Commission in Pittsfield to host a day-long housing institute for municipal leaders, advocates, and developers. Modeled on a successful annual event run by the statewide agency Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP), the program will feature planning, financing, and development consultants and technical-training breakout sessions. Project partners in addition to MHP are the Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire, Construct, Age Friendly Berkshires, and the towns of Great Barrington and Lenox.
The other four grants included $3,600 to the Housing Committee of Hillsdale, N.Y., $6,400 to Hudson River Housing in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., $5,000 to Philmont Beautification Inc. in Philmont, N.Y., and $8,000 to the Salisbury Affordable Housing Commission in Salisbury, Conn.
Established in 2000, HousingUs is a collaborative effort of nonprofit organizations and community leaders to promote broad-based affordable-housing options in towns throughout the northwest corner of Connecticut, Dutchess and Columbia counties in New York, and Berkshire County in Massachusetts. Governed by an advisory board of local community representatives, HousingUs is one of several leadership initiatives that receive annual investments from Berkshire Taconic beyond its regular grant-making initiatives.
“The future of our towns depends on the availability of affordable housing, good jobs, and a range of opportunities to meaningfully engage in community life,” said Peter Taylor, president of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. “We believe the solutions are at hand, so we are eager to gather experts, leaders, and residents in every county we serve to find and achieve them together.”