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SAAA grant transfer OK'd

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- Affordable senior housing in the center of town has taken another step closer to fruition.

The Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors on Feb. 28 approved transferring a $1.3 million grant from the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging to People Inc.
People Inc., the county's community-action agency, stepped forward when SAAA's financial difficulties were made public.

The agency on aging had planned to convert the former Woodstock High School on Court Street into its headquarters, and build garden apartments nearby. The renovation project would've used $1.8 million in loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

However, SAAA has struggled in the past six months after it was discovered a large number of bills to vendors went unpaid, three executives were fired and lawyers' bills mounted.

In December, SAAA voted to transfer the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant to People.

District 3 Supervisor David Ferguson asked if the housing would only be for the elderly or disabled population, or for anyone with low incomes.

District 4 Supervisor Sharon Baroncelli moved to make the agreement between Shenandoah County and SAAA null and void, and to transfer the agreement to make it between the county and People Inc. The contract would be in place for a year for the building to be completed.

The motion passed unanimously.

On Monday, People CEO Rob Goldsmith said 11 apartments are planned on a .8 acre parcel across the street from the old school.

"We will have one year to build it when we close on the project," he said. "We're probably looking at 15 months or so from now.

"We're excited about it. We think it will fill a need. I think it will be a good addition to the town and to the county."

SAAA had spent about $130,000-$140,000 in architectural and pre-engineering planning, and People will reimburse the agency for the portion that covered the apartments, according to Goldsmith.

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