Saranac Lake board hires housing consultants

SARANAC LAKE – The village has hired a pair of housing consultants to help it secure grants and loans for renovations to apartment houses, former cure cottages and other buildings.

The village Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday to hire Avalon Associates and the Housing Assistance Program of Essex County.

The resolution says the organizations will “provide housing and economic development grant writing, administration and technical assistance to the village for current and future projects only through 2013,” at an amount not to exceed $15,000. The funds will come from a Community Development account.

“It could be anything: rehabilitation of single-family, rental housing, mixed-use buildings that have housing,” said village Community Development Director Jeremy Evans. “It will most likely be on a project-to-project basis.”

Hiring a housing consultant was a recommendation from the village’s Local Development Corporation, which identified the quality and quantity of housing as an issue that needs to be addressed in the village.

The village issued a request for proposals for housing consultants in mid-November. Five proposals were submitted.

Evans said a committee that reviewed the submissions liked Avalon’s expertise and the on-the-ground experience the Housing Assistance Program has in the area, so it recommended the board hire both.

“This is a way to try to take advantage of the expertise of both,” he said. “As the projects come forth, we’ll work with both of them to see who is better suited with experience and time to help us out.”

Evans said the consultants will start working with the village soon so it’s ready to submit applications to the state for the next round of economic development funding. He said rehabilitation of apartment houses is the biggest housing need in the community and will likely be the first project for which funding is sought.

“I don’t want to discount single-family rehab, but we currently have a rental program and it’s going to be over-subscribed,” Evans said. “We could certainly put in another rental housing or mixed-use building application and we’d have no problem using it.”

Evans told the Enterprise in November that writing and administering grants is work his office could do, but if it really wants to make progress, the village could use some help.

“There’s only so many hours in the day,” he said.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or