Affordable housing complex opens its doors in Sunderland

By CHRIS LARABEEE

Staff Writer

Published: 01-26-2023 6:13 PM

SUNDERLAND — The first tenants are moving into Sanderson Place as Franklin County’s first new affordable housing complex in years opened its doors on Thursday.

Located at 120 North Main St. and featuring 33 wheelchair-accessible apartments, Sanderson Place is an affordable senior housing complex that was six years in the making. Tenants were approved through a lottery over the summer and have been waiting the last seven months for the OK to begin moving in.

For Andrea Sullivan, a former Southampton resident with family in Sunderland, being welcomed into her new home was even sweeter than expected.

“Today is my 75th birthday and the present I got is a new apartment,” Sullivan said with a grin. “God, I love it. I’m thrilled.”

The Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority managed the development of the housing project and Executive Director Gina Govoni said she and her staff were gratified to see Sanderson Place’s first residents move in.

“It’s so heartwarming,” Govoni said, adding that she and her staff had some butterflies about this project. “There was this fear of, ‘If you build it, will they come?’ … It’s lovely to see the tenants and their excitement.”

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Eight tenants moved in on Thursday, though Govoni said she expects a “full house” by March 15.

Another tenant who moved in on Thursday was former Amherst resident Karuna Burgess, who said she felt “a lot of gratitude” for the housing authority’s work in helping Sanderson Place reach the finish line.

“The Franklin County Housing Authority has been extremely generous in their time,” Burgess said. “I have lived in the area my whole life and my goal is to give back to the community. I feel like this will be an ideal place for me to pursue these goals.”

Burgess said Sanderson Place is providing a great living opportunity.

“This is an ideal place for me in my current situation,” she said. “I look forward to being part of the community here.”

Of the 33 units, 30 are single-bedroom and three are two-bedroom apartments. All residents have access to a community lounge, outdoor deck, fitness room and on-site laundry. LifePath’s Meals on Wheels program will also be available to tenants.

These amenities are part of what drew Sullivan to the location, as well as the proximity to her son and his family.

“I think the best part is going to be the community room,” she said. “I got in and I’m glad, I like to be close to my son.”

While all apartments are filled right now, Govoni said the housing authority is still accepting applications for the waiting list. An application can be found on the agency’s website at bit.ly/3ww5rfE. Applications and assistance in filling one out can also be picked up at the housing authority’s office in Turners Falls at 241 Millers Falls Road. The office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The head of household must be at least 62 years old or older and applicants must also meet income requirements to qualify, with the maximum limit set at 60% of the average median income for Franklin County, which equates to $45,180 for a two-person household. The average estimated rent is approximately $1,006 for a one-bedroom unit and $1,206 for a two-bedroom unit. Govoni said all utilities are included in the rent.

The application process, Sullivan added, was extremely easy to work through, although waiting for “deadlines was tough.”

“It was very simple,” she said.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.

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