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Archive for Friday, September 17, 1993

HOUSING COORDINATOR CITES NEEDS

September 17, 1993

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More than 500 elderly residents in Lawrence need financial help to meet rent payments or move into homes that have adequate plumbing, electricity and other housing basics, the city's housing coordinator said.

"Either they're doubled up, or they're precariously close to falling through the cracks," said Jay Leipzig, housing coordinator for the city's department of housing and neighborhood development. "They just need housing -- affordable housing."

Needs of residents age 62 and older will be among several housing issues discussed Monday during a public hearing concerning the city's Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.

The strategy, adopted in 1991, identifies several issues: housing needs of various groups, such as the homeless or elderly; the availability of affordable housing; housing conditions; and the status of the city's overall housing market.

The city's annual report must be sent to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development by the end of the year to provide further justification for housing grant applications, Leipzig said.

The city already has applied for $9 million in grants over five years to fight homelessness in Lawrence, and Leipzig expects word of approval or disapproval from HUD sometime next month.

The federal department received 1,300 applications for transitional-housing financing this year, more than twice the number expected, Leipzig said.

Elderly needs also require attention, he said. Many seniors are forced to share bedrooms, borrow money from relatives or live in substandard housing just to make ends meet, which means paying less than 30 percent of their gross monthly incomes for rent.

Monday's hearing also will allow people to look at the city data used to help determine program priorities.

The statistics indicate that 562 elderly households in Lawrence are in need of supported, affordable housing, which includes at-home care, Leipzig said. HUD said the "fair market rent" for a one-bedroom apartment in Lawrence, including utilities, was $374 per month in 1992.

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