EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

April 18, 2010

City gets extra cash to help neighborhoods

HAVERHILL — Finally, some good financial news for the city.

As Haverhill continues to suffer cuts in local aid from the state, the city has gotten word that it will receive a boost in federal money.

That cash will help pay for improvements to inner-city neighborhoods, Mayor James Fiorentini said.

Haverhill will receive $75,000 more this year in federal Community Development Block Grant money than it did last year, Fiorentini said. For the last three decades, the city has received nearly $1 million a year from the block grant program — money the city does not have to pay back.

With the $75,000 boost, Haverhill will receive slightly more than $1.1 million in total this year, the mayor said. The additional cash will allow the city to spend more than it usually does from the grant for projects like repairing housing and sidewalks in inner-city neighborhoods.

"These funds help us revitalize abandoned buildings, beautify downtown, support veterans housing and homeless shelters, help people heat and keep their homes, support adult literacy programs, and provide additional sidewalks, parks and roadway work in our urban core," Fiorentini said.

The target neighborhoods for the spending are low-income areas such as the Mount Washington and Acre neighborhoods.

Each spring, the city's Community Affairs Advisory Board receives proposals from city departments, neighborhood groups and other organizations for a share of the federal money.

The board then has hearings to consider the proposals and recommends to the mayor and City Council which projects to pay for.

Councilor William Macek said it is good news that Haverhill will receive the extra money, which can go a long way for neighborhood projects.

"The money allows us to do things in certain areas that we couldn't normally do," Macek said. "It improves the overall appearance of the city."

Projects paid for in the past include major jobs like housing renovations and smaller one such as playground improvements.

Macek said it is important for people to realize that anyone can make an application for the money to the Community Affairs Advisory Board in City Hall.

"Everybody will be considered," he said.

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