Haverhill to Spend $800,000 in Federal Money to Help Low-Income Neighborhoods

Economic and Planning Director William Pillsbury. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill will spend about $800,000 in federal money for “neighborhood stabilization,” helping to rehabilitate owner-occupied homes, enforce building codes, undertake demolition where necessary, help first-time home buyers and improve streets and sidewalks.

Economic and Planning Director William Pillsbury told city councilors Tuesday night, that while he hasn’t received an exact figure, he expects the city’s Community Development Block Grant to remain the same. He said the annual allotment has helped the city achieve many goals over the years.

“I think it has produced some good results and even to the point where many of us, who remember that the Highlands neighborhood and Arlington Street and that neighborhood used to be one of our most important target areas, we’ve been a victim of our success. It’s not even eligible anymore,” Pillsbury said.

Haverhill is a so-called “entitlement community.” The designation means the city has received money directly from the federal government since the 1970s when President Richard Nixon scrapped the former urban renewal program.

Most of the money is targeted to Mount Washington and the Acre neighborhoods where the goals is to target low-income areas. According to Pillsbury, other projects paid by the grant include Rebuilding Together Greater Haverhill and MakeIT Haverhill, a new, shared workspace in Mount Washington.

Councilors criticized the federal government for not increasing amounts even as the national budget has grown. Council Vice President Thomas J. Sullivan called the amounts “embarrassing” and a “disgrace.” Councilor William J. Macek joined in.

“The old saying, ‘charity begins at home.’ They spend money around the world without much thought and they don’t think much about sending money back to help communities,” Macek said.

Other items before the Council, endorsement of a plan to relocate the Bradford commuter rail layover station and an appeal from third grade teacher Kerri Alves for library money and some of her students, was postponed.

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