Letter: Ashfield House history
There is misinformation about the Ashfield House financial history and present project description contained in your article published concerning the annual town meeting. The attorney general’s office (in an Open Meeting Law complaint determination dated Feb. 10, 2014) considers the project public housing despite the mixed-financing and LLC entity. This would make sense given the overwhelming taxpayer-funded support for not only the Ashfield House property, but also the government agencies/public charities involved in the ownership and management.
Even HUD considers the project to be essentially a public undertaking. Basically the entire project was — and continues to be — subsidized by public money; therefore taxpayers have an investment in the property. Documents concerning restrictions on rental amounts and units that have project-based assistance are available for review.
The other issue I take with your article is that the CDBG Small Cities Core Focus Grant loan made to the Corbett family (for the creation of 16 apartments and an office space) was not subordinated some five years after the project was complete — nor was it a zero-percent mortgage. Those facts are readily available if The Recorder wishes to print a correction. For 14 years, the town would not subordinate the mortgage — preventing the Corbett family from selling the property to a private buyer/investor. However, the card in the Ashfield Assessor’s office stated “Government Involvement/FCRHRA” in 2004. Despite federal funding of the CDBG Core Focus Grant to Ashfield — administered by the Housing Authority, no assistance was offered the Corbett family to refinance or find relief when the state and the authority breached their contract(s). Had Ashfield stood behind the Corbett family and the federally funded project, we would have saved millions of taxpayer dollars and, I dare say, the lives of those living at 369 Main St. in Ashfield would have mattered.