After deadline, Amherst Housing Authority widens eligibility for sale of donated Schiffer House

By Daniel Nott

Members of the Amherst Housing Authority met on Nov 28. Left to right: Paul Bobrowski, Donna Crabtree, Joan Logan, Janna Tetreault (Program Specialist), Connie Kruger, Peter Jessup

The Housing Authority voted unanimously to expand the criteria for the sale of the Schiffer House, named for former Amherst resident Eva Schiffer, who donated the house to be sold to a municipal employee at a reduced rate.

Eva Schiffer, who after a long career as a UMass professor became an active member of Amherst’s municipal government, deeded her house to be sold to a town municipal worker at an affordable price.

As the 6-week application period ended on September 30th with no municipal members applying for the house, which is located at 27 Kendrick Place in Amherst, the Housing Authority discussed how to widen the pool of eligible applicants.

While the home deed restricted the sale to municipal employees with a household income of under $58,563, the Housing Authority agreed to open the eligibility to all town personnel, including police, firefighters, school and library workers, and staff of the housing authority.

They increased the household income limit to 120% of median household income for Hampshire County, which is scaled based on the size of the household. As such, the household income limit for a 1 person household will be set at $69,000, while for a family of 4 it will be limited to $98,250.

Chair member Peter Jessup described the changes to eligibility “specific enough for the probate court and flexible enough for us to work with.” The request will have to be approved by the Probate court, said Executive Director Donna Crabtree.

Connie Kruger, the only appointee to the five-member elected Board of Commissioners, described the Housing Authority as only partly an Amherst agency, which operated state and federal funding to provide equal opportunity housing though the management of 13 sites.

The Housing Authority, which meets in the Community Room on the 5th floor of the Ann Whalen Apartments in downtown Amherst, also discussed the budget and finalized the contract for the new executive director.

Denise LeDuc will replace Donna Crabtree as Executive Director, who at the end of December is leaving her post after serving for 27 years.

An Aside

Members of the Housing Authority were displeased with an article run by the Amherst Bulletin and Daily Hampshire Gazette that Connie Kruger alleged misrepresented the hiring process of the new Executive Director.

“It upset a number of people,” Kruger said.

The article clamed that Kruger relayed in an email that the vote was “based on feedback of housing authority staff, tenants of its properties and the public.”

“It’s those darn journalists,” said treasurer Paul Bobrowski, with a smile and a side glance toward the group of student journalists covering the meeting.

“Once the press gets involved you can’t count on them to necessarily get it right,” added Jessup.

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