Gerson Building Renovation Wins Praise for Supporting Veterans

Architect’s rendering of plans for the former Gerson Furniture Co., 181 Washington St., Haverhill.

John E. Ratka, executive director of Veterans Northeast Outreach Center, and Mayor James J. Fiorentini at the former Gerson Furniture Co.

One of two downtown housing projects winning state support Tuesday received particular praise from Haverhill’s mayor for its support of veterans.

As WHAV reported earlier, Gov. Charlie Baker announced housing subsidies for more than 100 apartments in two abandoned downtown buildings—one for a former industrial building at 98-112 Essex St. and the other for the vacant Gerson Furniture building at 181 Washington St. The Gerson project was singled out by Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

“Our goal is no veterans should be homeless,” said the mayor. “Affordable housing for veterans is needed in our city and this development will assist us in providing a safe home for veterans.”

The Gerson property is to be converted into 44 affordable apartments with a preference for veterans. It is being developed by the nonprofit Coalition for a Better Acre, associated with Veterans Northeast Outreach Center. Veterans Northeast already operates a number of veterans housing complexes in Haverhill, including apartments on Reed, Temple and Beacon Streets.

John E. Ratka is executive director of Veterans Northeast. He showed Fiorentini an architect’s rendering of plans for Washington Street.

“The Gerson Building has been an eyesore and added blight to the neighborhood,” Fiorentimi said. “This new development will be a welcome change to the area.”

There is a tremendous need for veterans’ housing in the Merrimack Valley and this project will assist in filling the gap that is needed to provide safe housing for our veterans.

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