Bait & Switch

From Kirby on the Loose
Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Image via Kirby on the Loose
Image via Kirby on the Loose

Bait and Switch at the Village?

A lot of people put in applications at the Hilltop Apartments on Village Hill when it opened three years ago, drawn by assurances from its developer, Community Builders, that its apartments would remain affordable. Hilltop has many nice apartments, the upper floors have terrific views, but it still has an institutional air to it. Long windowless corridors, no community space to speak of.

Bill “W” lives there, for now. He is a recovered alcoholic, works in food service in a supermarket. The pace is fast, he deals with the public directly, he works hard, puts in a full forty hour week and sometimes a weekend shift. He earns about $26,000 a year. For the last three years, almost since it opened, he has lived there. It was a big step up from a chaotic druggy rooming house on Green Street where he used to live. Community Builders engineered an $8 million rebuild of the old nurses quarters at the State Hospital, creating 33 apartments. Of the 33 units, 18 were supposed to be low income housing units, 8 would be for Department of Mental Health clients, and seven would be market level. The rents varied, based on your income and the square-footage of the apartments. The range of monthly rents in 2006 were $645 – $850 for a one bedroom apartments, $626 to $1050 for a two bedroom, and $1,050 for the lone three bedroom unit.

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