With the new “At Home in Pittsfield” program, residents will have more incentive and greater access for funding to pursue home improvements in the City of Pittsfield.
Mayor Linda Tyer announced the program and its details at a press conference in Council Chambers at City Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 20. The new initiative is a reflection of a partnership between Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Lee Bank, Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, and Berkshire Bank. Leadership from each organization were in attendance at the news conference.
At Home in Pittsfield is an exterior renovation loan program which enables homeowners citywide to access a combination of funding from local lenders and city funds to purchase and renovate a residential property or refinance and renovate a residential property. The amount of funding available for home improvements – either from the city or from a combination of the city and local lender - will take into consideration the anticipated appraised value of the property after renovations are completed. The local lender will administer approved city funds in conjunction with their loan. Properties must be owner-occupied and may be single family homes or owner occupied multi-family structure with up to four housing units.
In addition to having the option of obtaining funding through a local lender, homeowners in the Morningside and Westside Neighborhood can also access At Home in Pittsfield funds for home improvements to their existing residences, without going through a participating local lender. In these instances, approved funding will be administered by the city’s Department of Community Development.
Mayor Linda Tyer said the decision to establish this collaborative program came down to its ability to serve as a catalyst for long-term, sustainable change in the City of Pittsfield.
“I am so excited about At Home in Pittsfield because it has the power to transform our community – house by house, block by block. We know that many in our city would like to embark on exterior renovations and other improvements, however, the unfortunate reality is that some lack the necessary financial resources,” the mayor said. “This program actively works to remove those barriers, reduce the instances of deferred maintenance and widen the pathway of access. I am grateful to our lending partners for their belief, support and investment in a program that will reap benefits for all of us in the City of Pittsfield.”
The timing of the program is just right for Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, which is in the process of developing a homeowner rehabilitation assistance program, and will use its platform to promote the city’s program in the Westside and Morningside neighborhoods.
“Habitat is very excited that the city is providing local homeowners access to resources to improve their homes with funding from the At Home in Pittsfield program. The timing is excellent, there is a lot of positive momentum and residents are very engaged in creating a vision of a thriving, just and safe neighborhood,” said Executive Director Carolyn Valli, Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity. “We look forward to partnering with the city and residents in making that vision a reality.
Brad Gordon, executive director and staff attorney, with the Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority (BCRHA), praised the program for its comprehensive approach.
“I am a strong supporter of the City of Pittsfield’s proposed exterior renovation loan program, which will provide an important vehicle for promoting homeownership for moderate income households, spur private investment in neighborhoods throughout the city, and make inroads into improving Pittsfield’s older housing stock by specifically targeting deferred maintenance issues that would otherwise go unaddressed,” said Gordon. “BCRHA’s overarching mission is to promote housing, household, and community stability, and there is no question that Pittsfield’s well thought out program is consistent with the aforementioned mission.”
It’s that mission that Working Cities Pittsfield Initiative Director Alisa Costa says equips community members with the necessary tools to better their individual experience on their own terms.
“We applaud the City of Pittsfield for addressing neighborhood problems through the eyes of residents. When we give control of resources to the homeowner, they can build their neighborhood in their own vision. And that is how communities thrive,” she said.
Here’s what the current lending partners have to say about their participation in this program and why At Home in Pittsfield is a valuable asset to the city’s advancement:
John Bissell, President, Greylock Federal Credit Union.
“Greylock is honored to help Pittsfield homeowners share their neighborhood pride. Greylock partners with our members and our communities to help each and every one of us thrive. Public/private partnerships like this make Pittsfield strong, and make us proud to call Pittsfield home,” said Bissell.
Paula Lewis, SVP, Retail Lending, Lee Bank.
“Lee Bank is pleased to be a participating lender with the At-Home in Pittsfield Housing initiative. We look forward to partnering with the City of Pittsfield to offer loan programs that benefit homeowners individually, and improve neighborhoods at the same time. We’ve been a part of the development of this initiative from the beginning and we’re thrilled to see the progress ahead. The investments made in our city through the At-Home Pittsfield initiative will pay off by making it a better place to live, work and visit,” Lewis said.
Jay Anderson, President and CEO, Pittsfield Cooperative:
“The Pittsfield Cooperative Bank is thrilled to partner with the City of Pittsfield and Mass Housing as part of the At-Home in Pittsfield initiative. This initiative compliments the bank’s continued efforts to promote home ownership and encourage the rehabilitation of existing homes in our community,” Anderson said.
Sean A. Gray, President, Berkshire Bank:
“Berkshire Bank is pleased to partner with the City of Pittsfield on this important program to provide residents, including young professionals, first-time home buyers, veterans and the disabled, access to funds to rehabilitate their homes. We look forward to working with those participating in the program to improve their homes while contributing to the vibrancy of the City of Pittsfield for many years to come,” stated Gray.
The program remains open to additional lenders who would like to join at later date.
Exterior home improvements eligible for city funding include the following:
- roof replacement;
- window and door replacement;
- porch repairs or replacement; chimney repairs;
- siding installation; and
- foundation repairs.
The following improvements are not eligible for city funding:
- installation of exterior drainage;
- repair of garages or other separate sheds, structures, or outbuildings; and
- interior improvements, such as installation of carpeting, wall paneling, and updating baths and kitchens.
For more information about this program, please contact Justine Dodds, Program Manager, 413-499-9368.