PITTSFIELD – Almost two years later she proposed itPittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer got backing on Tuesday for a plan to help residents renovate the exterior of their homes through the use of potentially repayable loans.
When Tyer’s “At Home in Pittsfield” program was beaten in April 2019 by another city council, opponents said Pittsfield should not withdraw money from an economic development fund inherited from General Electric Co.’s departure from the city.
Two of these councilors, Kevin Morandi from Ward 2 and Christopher Connell from Ward 4, remained against the plan. But with two other opponents no longer on the body, the measure fell to 8-2. He needed and obtained a qualified majority to pass. Council President Peter Marchetti has recused himself due to a conflict.
After see his idea put aside in 2019, Tyer pledged to try again, arguing that helping residents invest in their homes not only creates equity and family wealth for eligible borrowers, but is good for the whole city, especially in neighborhoods in difficulty.
And over a year later, this campaign took place.
Tyer told advisers on Tuesday that she will not be returning to the panel to seek additional funding beyond the $ 500,000 approved Tuesday for the program, which will allocate loans to eligible applicants over the next two or three years.
The program is designed to help homeowners who might otherwise not be eligible for funding for repairs. Four local banks are partners. Applicants without a mortgage can apply through the city.
Loans can be used for exterior improvements that prevent deterioration, such as repairs to porches, roofs, windows or chimneys.
OK’d Tuesday funding is double the amount councilors rejected last year.
Tyer said she believes the benefits of having people invest in their homes will be significant and clear and will be compelling to other sources of funding.
The city, Tyer said, will be able to “show other sources of funding … that this is an investment they should be part of, when it comes to supporting community life.”
The project was on track to gain approval at the last city council meeting on November 10, but was delayed when Connell was able to interrupt debate through what is known as a charter objection. . On November 4, the program won the support the community and economic development committee of the municipal council.
On Tuesday evening, Connell and Morandi continued to question whether it made sense to dip money into the GE fund, with Connell arguing that it should be earmarked to help attract companies to Berkshire’s new innovation hub. and, more generally, to the old GE site. .
“I still don’t think it’s economic development,” Connell said of the At Home program. “We have to keep this for companies that want to get into the innovation hub,” Connell said. “They have the promise of creating jobs in the town of Pittsfield.”
“It will only be 20 or 25 households. It’s a drop in the bucket, ”he said.
Morandi said he admired the goals of the program. “I see the need. I represent this region of Morningside, ”he said. “But there are other ways to fund this. … This is the source of funding that I am against.
But, a qualified majority of councilors applauded the home improvement effort, including some of those who voted to implement the program in April 2019, when the measure failed.
Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Maffuccio said he has spoken to tradespeople who believe the effort will boost economic development, to some extent. “Sometimes we have to think outside the box,” Maffuccio said. “In the long run, it’s a win-win situation.
Nicholas Caccamo, from Ward 3, said the program would create jobs.
Of those who voted yes on Tuesday, four supported the program in 2019: At-Large Councilors Earl G. Persip III and Peter White, Helen Moon from Ward 1 and Caccamo.
Four other funders have joined the council since the 2019 vote: Ward 6 councilor Dina Guiel Lampiasi; Ward 5 councilor Patrick Kavey; At-Large Councilor Yuki Cohen; and Maffuccio.
At a previous board meeting, Lampiasi said she was sorry to see the program fail in 2019 and was happy to support it now.
Kavey said he has no doubts that loans spur economic development, defining it as “the creation of wealth from which community benefits are made”.