Congressman McGovern discusses the importance of affordable housing

McGovern: Affordable housing is a hand up, not a hand out

NORTHAMPTON, Mass (WWLP) – Congressman Jim McGovern visited the Meadowbrook Apartments in Florence, Wednesday night, to discuss the importance of preserving affordable housing.

Meadowbrook is 252 units of affordable housing for low income families. “Affordable housing is necessary and does help people get out of poverty,” said McGovern.

To qualify for affordable housing, or Section 8, a person must live under the state’s poverty level. The tenant pays a portion of their rent, and the government pays the rest. “‘I’m your tax dollars at work,” said Heather Craig, a resident of Meadowbrook since 2004. Craig suffers from several medical conditions.

There are strict disclosure guidelines for tenants. They must provide their income, number of people living in their unit, and report any income changes. “So this is not a handout, by any means. This is a hand up, and people should never denigrate affordable housing,” McGovern said.

McGovern is worried that landlords will convert affordable housing to higher rent properties.

“It helped me tremendously, because when I moved here, I actually had no income and I was with my babies. I had two at the time and we didn’t know where we were going to land,” said Meadowbrook resident Chanuntelle Paquette.

“My option when I was homeless, before I got the Section 8 in Holyoke, was having seizures behind a dumpster,”Craig said.

Meadowbrook offers its residents support services, like counseling, employment assistance and summer meals for kids. Congressman McGovern said this model should be implemented statewide.

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