Rockland’s housing shortage 

The purpose of this letter is to follow-up to reporter Steve Betts’ article in the Aug. 26 Courier-Gazette on Rockland’s housing shortage.

The story referenced the City’s housing program starting in 2000, and the housing rehabilitation grants the city was applying for in order to help address increasing home prices as more affluent people moved into the area.

Between 2000 and 2007, the city received three Community Development Block Grants for Housing Assistance, resulting in 10 apartment buildings and 57 apartments being substantially rehabilitated through 2011. The program required that they be code compliant and affordable for low to moderate income tenants after completion. The grants also allowed for the rehabilitation of non-residential buildings into rental units.

For property owners, this program provided for 50% forgivable loans converted into a grant over a five-year period, and a 50% loan repayment at 0% interest, which generated several hundred thousand dollars in program income for future rental rehabilitation projects.

However, for nearly the past decade, successive city councils, city managers and community development directors chose not to continue with the program; nor, to apply for Community Development Block Grants involving housing assistance. As for the program income, it was diverted to other housing uses.

In 2011, a city-wide windshield survey was conducted by the Community Development Department, which evaluated the exterior façade of each dwelling unit as to their condition.

The survey found 222 substandard multi-family housing units and 203 substandard single-family units, which potentially could be renovated or restored for affordable housing. Most of these units were likely occupied by low to moderate income families, or persons earning lower wages or on fixed incomes. The survey also found that roughly 27 to 31 upper level apartments in the downtown could be created with assistance to make them affordable.

Had the City continued with the rental rehabilitation program and expanded it to include single-family homes, Rockland would not have the shortage of affordable housing to the extent it now has.

Rodney Lynch

Rockland

In remembrance of 9/11

Sept. 11, 2021, was a somber and sadly evocative day, one I imagine most all Americans noted with sorrow and a memory of terrible loss.

It was heartening and inspiring to see former presidents and first ladies Clinton, Bush and Obama, along with President and First Lady Biden in attendance at ground zero in New York to mark the moment the 9/11 attacks began. This occasion calls for the sober gravitas, reflection and leadership our presidents can provide.

I was astonished to note the conspicuous absence of our former president Trump. I checked on this, and discovered he was doing commentary, for money, at a boxing match in a Florida casino, rather than supporting Americans by attending any 9/11 commemorative ceremonies. This is disappointing, to say the least, and shows our ex-president’s true character, as actions speak louder than his meaningless words.

Any Americans who somehow still support this man should be ashamed and embarrassed.

John Shepard

Union