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Atwood Acres receives HUD grant, to expand by 36 units

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TOWNSEND — If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That was the motto of RCAP Solutions through three years of application processes for a government grant that would allow them to expand the Atwood Acres facility.

In this case, the third time was the charm and the diligence paid off in the form of a $5,565,400 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The money, according to Paul Teixeira, vice president of RCAP, will be used to construct a new, 36-unit building directly behind Atwood Acres on Dudley Road.

“(We), the Townsend Housing Authority as well as many local boards and commissions, have been working on this project for nearly five years,” Teixeira said, “so it’s very gratifying to have been … successful in securing this grant. We look forward to realizing a development that will become an asset to the community.”

Teixeira received the good news from U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, who praised the organization’s efforts and the decision to grant the funds.

“RCAP Solutions does excellent work and I am very pleased that HUD recognized that with this grant.”

RCAP is based in Gardner, Mass., and has nearly 100 volunteers working in nine states, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing safe, affordable housing, among other goals.

The grant is a result of HUD’s Section 202 program, which calls for the elderly, even those in a frail state, to be allowed to live as independently as possibly. To aid this, it promotes the availability of affordable rental housing with supportive services nearby in the event of an emergency. It only provides this grant to private nonprofit organizations that meet certain requirements.

Town administrator Greg Barnes announced the grant award at a recent Board of Selectmen meeting and said he eagerly anticipates what’s to come.

“I look forward to working with RCAP on the creation of these new units of badly-needed housing. This project will go a long way toward increasing the amount of affordable housing for the elderly in our community.”

Each of the new units, according to RCAP, will be a one-bedroom apartment with “senior-friendly design details.” Some of these details include spacious bathrooms, to provide maneuverability for those seniors aided by canes or walkers, showers with built-in bars and seats, and even thermostats made easier to read by large numbers.

According to Michelle Cannon, chairman of the Housing Authority, the grant will actually be broken into two different amounts. The bulk of it, $5,039,500, will go toward the construction of the building. The remaining $525,900 will be set aside for rental subsidies. She also praised the decision and said she would send proper thanks out to those whom she believed made a difference this time around.

“We were successful this time in large part due to the outpouring of support letters, many of which included pledges of in-kind donations and services,” Cannon said. “(The grant) will go a long way toward providing the ability of our seniors to age in place in their home town.”

The addition will also increase the town’s percentage of affordable housing, augmented by the Habitat for Humanity project on Apple Drive and funding that will allow for the refurbishment of several existing houses.

No timetable has been set on the construction of the new building. The site was donated at no cost by the town to further assist the project.