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Lebanon OKs Grant Effort for Rivermere

Lebanon — Help could be on the way for the Rivermere affordable housing complex, which suffered more than $400,000 in damage during flash flooding caused by the one-two punch of cloudburst storms on July 1 and 2.

The City Council on Wednesday night unanimously approved an application for up to $200,000 in emergency funding from the federal Community Development Block Grant program, which provides assistance to low- to moderate-income housing projects.

“Obviously, this is a huge step forward,” said Andrew Winter, the executive director of the Twin Pines Housing Trust, which manages the development. “The commitment of up to $200,000 in CDBG funding gets us an important step closer to having all of the funds necessary to undertake reconstruction and finish the project off.”

In July, a storm system dumped nearly four inches of rain on already-saturated ground over a 48-hour period.

The resulting flooding damaged the larger Rivermere apartment building and the surrounding landscape. It forced evacuations of the complex both on the night of July 1 and the early evening on July 2, when residents from all units in the complex and nearby houses on Tannery Lane were sent scrambling by the floodwaters.

Winter said the flooding damaged eight units and the community room, and added that the last resident who was displaced by the flooding moved back in just this past weekend.

John Roe, the Twin Pines Housing Trust project manager, already had another not-too-distant milestone in mind.

“I’m just looking forward to Monday when the construction actually starts,” he said.

Shelley Hadfield, who has been working with the city and the Twin Pines Housing Trust to secure emergency funding, said before the Council meeting that she is anticipating to ultimately net $170,000 in emergency funding for the Rivermere rehabilitation from the grant program, which is overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

According to the application for funding, the level of damage to the eight units and community room ranged from moderate to extreme, with some ground floor units covered in two to three feet of sediment. The flooding destroyed appliances, heating and electrical systems, insulation and personal belongings of the residents.

Hadfield said that the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority has “bent over backwards” to help the city secure the funding.

“They’re giving us every cent that they have in the pot,” she said.

City councilors, for their part, heaped praise on Hadfield, who received a round of applause after the vote went through.

“That applause is well deserved, Shelley,” said Mayor Georgia Tuttle.

Twin Pines Housing Trust has also applied to the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, one of the original funding sources of the affordable apartment complex, for a supplemental allocation of low income housing tax credits that will help cover the balance of the rehabilitation project, estimated to be in the range of $225,000.

Winter was optimistic those funds would come through, and said he would know by today whether the development group has secured the money.

“It’s good news and we’re moving in the right direction,” Winter said of the progress made on securing emergency funding so far.

As for the nearly $60,000 already expended by the Twin Pines Housing Trust on emergency response and work that’s already been done at the site, Winter said that the development group has applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover as much of that amount as possible.

Ben Conarck can be reached at bconarck@vnews.com or 603-727-3213