The Access Community Action Agency was awarded $350,000 from Connecticut Light & Power for the development of affordable housing in Windham. Access was qualified by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority to receive the contribution as part of Connecticut’s Housing Tax Credit Contribution (HTCC) program. State Senate President Pro Temp¬ore Donald E. Williams Jr., state Representative Mae Flexer, Northeast Utilities Vice President for Gov¬ernment Affairs Peg Morton, and Northeast Utilities Manager of Government Affairs Tom Dorsey were on hand to present Access with the funds.
HTCC gives businesses like CL&P the option to donate directly to qualified nonprofit organizations that create affordable housing and then take an equal deduction from the taxes they would otherwise pay to the State of Connecticut.
The $350,000 CL&P contribution will be used by The Access Community Action Agency to launch a new program called Access to Assets, which combines affordable housing development with the Windham Area Hour Exchange “time bank” as a means to meet Access’s mission of creating “conditions that empower individuals and families to overcome the barriers that impair their ability to be economically stable”.
With a focus on improving the ability of low- and no-wage families to access services and build community networks, the Windham Area Hour Exchange “time bank” is open to all local individuals, business, and organizations regardless of income, residency, age, physical ability, or other circumstance.
All members of the Exchange provide and receive services on an hour-for-hour basis, where one hour of service they provide to another member will earn them one “time dollar” which they can then use to “purchase” a service they need from another member in the network. For example, providing grocery shopping and errand running services would earn a member time dollars to be spent receiving transportation, babysitting, health care, legal services, home repair, etc.
By providing and receiving services for time through the Exchange, participating individuals, families, businesses and organizations can conserve cash, can receive services they might not otherwise be able to afford, and can build community connections that empower them to create increased community engagement, and improved employment prospects.
The Affordable Housing Development portion of Access to Assets will rehabilitate two or three family homes in low-income neighborhoods. The program will function in a manner similar to the Habitat for Humanity model, employing both paid and volunteer labor, with the additional critical, transformative element of the Windham Area Hour Exchange “time bank”. Volunteers will have the opportunity to join the Exchange and earn time dollars for work they provide on the renovation work.
Exchange member labor will reduce the cost of renovation, which will allow the home to be affordable to an income-eligible buyer. The income-eligible buyer will be prequalified for a mortgage and given the opportunity to save toward their down payment in two ways: matched savings through the Access Community Action Agency’s Individualized Development Account program and/or earning “sweat equity” toward the purchase by working on the renovation project.
The income-eligible buyer must agree to rent the remaining unit(s) to low-income tenants, thereby providing affordable housing to others while offsetting the cost of their own mortgage. The income-eligible buyer will also be supported with literacy training in finance, homeownership, and landlord roles and responsibilities.
If you are interested in learning more about Access to Assets or joining the Windham Area Hour Exchange, please contact:
Director, Access to Assets / Windham Area Hour Exchange
Access Community Action Agency
1315 Main Street, Suite 2
Willimantic, CT 06226
Office: (860) 450-7400 ext. 7458
On the web at: http://www.accessagency.org/index.cfm and click on the Windham Area Hour Exchange logo
Facebook: www.facebook.com/WindhamAreaHourExchange “
Access is a federal and state designated Community Action Agency (CAA) that serves eastern Connecticut. Access provides food, emergency shelter, energy assistance, job and life skills training, youth mentoring, affordable housing for seniors, and more. For more information about Access services, call 860-450-7400 in the Willimantic area, 860-412-1600 in the Danielson area, or visit www.accessagency.org.