BANGOR , Maine — The Bangor Housing Authority is preparing to put to use more than $1.3 million in federal stimulus funding for renovations to kitchens in a 442-apartment complex that the authority manages.
The best part, housing authority executive director Elsie Coffey said, is a provision that allows the work to be done solely by local employees.
“We didn’t want this money to come to BHA and then, should a local contractor not have the low bid, the work would go out of state,” Coffey said Tuesday. “So we had the option of hiring local people, putting them on our payroll, which ensures that they will have a job for at least 12 months and maybe up to 18 months.”
The $1,339,035 grant comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s share of funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Bangor Housing Authority manages 567 units of public housing for the city of Bangor.
“They wanted projects that were shovel-ready, and this has been on our schedule for two years, so this was the most logical place to put the money,” Coffey said of the kitchen renovations. “We will replace kitchens until the money runs out.”
Even when the money does dry up, Coffey said the housing authority has money set aside in its capital fund to finish the remaining apartment units.
Most of the Bangor Housing Authority’s units in the area known as old Capehart were built in the early 1950s. The kitchens have been renovated once, but that was decades ago. Renovations will include new cabinets and countertops, new sinks, new range hoods and new flooring. The appliances have been replaced relatively recently, according to Coffey.
As required under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, all of the materials used for the renovations will be American-made. That, combined with creating local jobs, has Coffey excited.
“I am hoping we will get some response from someone who has just lost his job and says ‘I can do it,’” she said.
In fact, some of the contracts already have gone out to bid, and Coffey said work could begin as soon as mid-July.
“Some tenants might go a day or so without a sink, but it will be a minor inconvenience,” she said.