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The Best Plan for Housing Is to Plan Less

Op-ed by Bryan Caplan / The New York Times

“I would be the first to argue that if an economist claims to know of a cure-all policy — a reliable way to relieve a long list of social ills in one fell swoop — common sense tells you to stop listening.

So it is awkward for me to declare that I know of something close to a panacea policy: one big reform that would raise living standards, reduce wealth inequality, increase productivity, raise social mobility, help struggling men without college degrees, clean the planet and raise birth rates. It’s a sweeping reform that Democrats and Republicans, progressives and conservatives could all proudly support.”

“The panacea policy I have in mind is housing deregulation. Research confirms that there are large benefits in saying yes to tall buildings, yes to multifamily structures, yes to dense single-family development and yes to speedy permitting. The growing YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) movement already has high-profile wins in Minnesota, Oregon, California and beyond, but even YIMBY devotees rarely appreciate the scope of the merits of loosening rules on housing.”

Supply and Demand

“The case for housing deregulation starts with Econ 101: Allowing builders to significantly increase housing supply leads to much lower prices. This is hardly wishful thinking. Before the rise of stricter regulation in the 1970s, the textbook model worked well: When demand pushed prices above the cost of production, more construction drove prices back down. We have decent U.S. data since the 1950s, and until recent decades, there was no long-term upward trend in prices. Now, despite a downtick during the Great Recession, the upward march is unmistakable: Today’s inflation-adjusted (and quality-adjusted!) housing prices are now far above their previous peaks.”

“How do researchers know that excessive regulation is causing high housing prices? Using the process of elimination. It isn’t rising demand, as the U.S. population rose even faster back when housing prices were roughly stable. It isn’t because of higher construction costs — those, adjusted for inflation, have been almost flat for decades.

On the other hand, there is good evidence that heavy-handed housing regulation is boosting home prices by restricting supply. Strictly regulated urban areas like New York City and the Bay Area have high prices and low construction, while more lightly regulated areas like Houston and Dallas have much lower prices and much more construction.Standard of Living

What would happen if homebuilders could once again freely build until housing prices were driven back down to cost? According to a conservative estimate, prices would ultimately fall about 50 percent on average nationally — with significant, wide-ranging implications. The most direct would be a sharp jump in the average American’s economic well-being. Since shelter is now roughly 20 percent of the average American’s budget, halving its price makes the cost of living 10 percent lower — and the standard of living 11 percent higher. This would be welcome news for those struggling to make rent or buy a first home. And while current homeowners would see their house values drop, those who sold to developers could still make a killing.”

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Construct Awarded $3.1 Million State Grant for Cassilis Farm

Great Barrington, Mass. — Construct, the leading nonprofit provider of affordable housing and support services in the Southern Berkshires, has been awarded a $3.1 million grant from the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s 2024 Affordable Housing Development program. The state funds will help construct and subsidize 11 units at Cassilis Farm, a Gilded Age estate in New Marlborough, making them affordable to families and workers at or below 60 percent of the area median income (AMI).

Governor Maura Healey and Housing and Livable Communities Secretary Ed Augustus joined Construct Executive Director Jane Ralph, local officials, and other housing developers from across the state to announce the grant awards, totaling $227 million in state and federal tax credits and subsidies. The grants will support the creation or preservation of 1,874 rental units across Massachusetts.  

“This award demonstrates that affordable housing can be created in rural communities while preserving the character of existing neighborhoods and supporting local businesses,” says Jane Ralph, Construct’s Executive Director. “Receiving this funding is a tremendous step toward our $7.4 million goal, bringing us to 80% of our target. It is gratifying to see our shared vision for affordable housing in New Marlborough gain such momentum.”

“These awards are one of the most effective tools our administration has to increase the development of housing that is affordable for people across the state,” said Governor Maura Healey. “Along with our Affordable Homes Act, we’re working to lower the cost of housing across Massachusetts to benefit our families, businesses, and economy.”

This is the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities’ largest annual grant award, supporting the development of affordable rental housing units statewide. The total investment includes $27.1 million in 4 percent federal tax credits, $12.1 million in 9 percent federal tax credits, $44.5 million in state tax credits, and $143.4 million in state subsidy funds.

In addition to analyzing how these projects met the state’s housing goals, the Administration carefully evaluated every application’s green, sustainable, and climate-resilient aspects to ensure that all projects selected for awards will help further the state’s climate objectives.

In 2020, New Marlborough’s Affordable Housing Committee released a report stating that the town has no affordable housing and businesses are struggling to keep their doors open due to severe staff shortages. In 2022, with the housing crisis at an all-time high in southern Berkshire County, Construct purchased Cassilis Farm with the generous financial support of friends, neighbors, and New Marlborough ARPA funds. When construction is complete, Construct will have created thirteen new units of 1-3 bedroom affordable housing, expanding New Marlborough’s community base, promoting economic stability, and contributing to a future of growth and development. In addition to addressing immediate housing needs, the project also focuses on restoring the historic Cassilis Estate. This effort will preserve a significant piece of local heritage, ensuring it remains a valuable asset for future generations.  Full occupancy at Cassilis Farm is anticipated in early 2026.

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Gathering To End Homelessness

On Friday, May 31st, over 150 Network partners came together for the 8th Annual Gathering of the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness at Holyoke Community College. A coalition of housing advocates from every level of government and community across our four western counties gathered in a call for action—and we were heard.

In anticipation of the House and Senate debate on the Healey-Driscoll administration’s proposed Affordable Homes Act, the turnout assembled by Network Director Pamela Schwartz and her team was inspiring, but the presentations were sobering.  

Shelter statistics show family homelessness across western Mass is up nearly 50% since 2020. Unsheltered homelessness has increased 224% since 2021. And people of color are two to six times more at risk of being homeless.

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Take A Tour Of This Gilded Age Manor In New Marlborough Before It Becomes Affordable Housing

By Heather Bellow, The Berkshire Eagle — May 29, 2024

John Lennon and Yoko Ono once brought their young son Sean to Cassilis Farm.

The estate, once known as Brookmead, also hosted Jersey cows, prize-winning Hackney ponies, and maintained a blacksmith and a dog hospital. Later, an artist colony would begin to take root — that’s when John and Yoko went — before Jane Carpenter turned it into a residence for children with disabilities.

That’s just some of the history of the Georgian Revival estate, built in 1890, then rebuilt after a fire over a decade later.

Next chapter for the farm? Affordable housing by early 2026. But before that, it’s a showcase of sorts.

Right now, in pre-construction glory, each room at the 27-acre Cassilis Farm holds a vision of more than a dozen Berkshires designers.

These somewhat buyable installations — a “Designer Showhouse” on the theme of “Nature in the Berkshires” — will remain throughout June as a self-guided tour fundraiser for Construct Inc.’s project to transform the buildings into 11 apartments for local families and workers who qualify.

Each tour ticket is $40, and all proceeds go to the Cassilis Farm overhaul. Attendees can also learn where to buy the furnishings from the showhouse, and also purchase artworks on display. Tickets can be purchased on Construct’s website.

It’s also a last look at a Gilded Age estate before construction begins, since the work — with constraints tied to government funding — will not preserve all the architectural details. A state architect will oversee that aspect, said Construct Executive Director Jane Ralph.

Construct Designer Showhouse

The designers and the affordable housing nonprofit are partnering up to support the initiative, which began when Construct bought the estate at auction in 2022, planning to turn it into desperately needed housing here.

As of now, $2.5 million is coming from the Federal Home Loan Bank Boston’s Affordable Housing Competitive Funding Program and Rural Community Development Initiative Grants, Ralph said.

Greylock Federal Credit Union is another partner, as are a slew of individual donors and a host of others. All told, the project will run around $7 million, Ralph said.

“Virtually all the money for acquiring this was raised in New Marlborough,” Ralph added, “so the community support is overwhelming.”

It is also a “model,” Ralph said, of “how smaller towns, without the infrastructure, can still provide affordable housing.”

And now, the rooms are supermodels.

Construct Designer Showhouse

“I wanted to reimagine the strawberries in a kind-of more modern way,” said Patrick McBride, of PM Design, of the “timeless” pattern refashioned. “So we printed them on a pearlized metallic paper.”

McBride along with colleague Harry Heissmann designed the “Strawberry Fields” dining room as a nod to John Lennon, “who stayed here for a minute,” McBride said.

Formerly the longtime creative director of Tillet Textile in Sheffield, McBride also hand-stripped the fabric with the same purple-pink palette on the window seat cushion.

Construct Designer Showhouse

There is art throughout the estate. Hanging on McBride’s strawberry wallpaper are portraits by West Stockbridge painter Vivian Outlaw.

Berkshire artist Maurice “Pops” Peterson has two of his new works — featuring local landscapes rather than his reimagined Norman Rockwells — hanging in one of the halls.

Dana Simpson, designer and owner of Hammertown Barn, had stumbled upon an antique marbleized paper ledger in one of her stores recently and had a photo of the cover copied onto wallpaper sheets.

She and two colleagues spent eight hours pasting more than 500 sheets to the ceiling in one of the estate’s lower rooms, which she also decorated with Hammertown furnishings.

“We did the whole ceiling for less than $500,” Simpson said, “plus elbow grease. It was a labor of love.”

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Reimagining a Gilded Age Home

Thinking Outside of the Box to Meet Our Housing Needs

Berkshire Magazine — By Laura Mars

I arrived at Cassilis Farm in New Marlborough on a snowy February afternoon, excited to explore the Gilded Age mansion that is to be transformed into affordable housing. What a worthy new life for this impressive estate! First, though, the property will host a spectacular Designer Showcase—a fundraising event to show off the Berkshire’s history, the building’s beauty, and the region’s talented interior designers. It will also raise awareness of the need for more housing, as well as raise money for its new owner, Construct, Inc., the leading nonprofit provider of affordable housing in the southern Berkshires.  

The Designer Showcase, themed “Nature in the Berkshires,” will be a timed, ticketed walk-through and will be open to visitors through five weekends in June. Additional events surrounding the fundraiser include a New Marlborough community day, as well as a special opening night tour and reception at Cassilis Farm. When the show is finished, the rooms will be dismantled, and Cassilis will begin its transformation into a place where 13 families will call home.

Laura Jordahl, Construct’s site manager for the Designer Showcase, led me into the Annex, where voices rang out from the top of the staircase. Valerie Winig of Wingate Designs was measuring windows for lace curtains and points to the walls where botanical wallpaper will hang. She is one of 15 area designers who are donating time and resources to reimagine spaces in the Main House, built in 1890, and Annex, built in 1900.

“It’s such a beautiful home,” says Winig, who is working on the staircase as well as the first and second floor hallway and a powder room. “It’s unimaginable that everyone is putting in all this unbelievable gorgeousness and it will be ripped apart. It’s like a stage set. But it matters not. It’s for a good cause, and we want to participate in making it an exciting event.”

“Support for the Showcase has been incredible, from the town of New Marlborough to designers and artists, community members, businesses, even Construct’s staff and volunteers are reenergized,” says Jordahl, who came up with the idea with fellow board members Betty Farbman and Hinda Bodinger.

“It will not only showcase the incredible design talent we have in the Berkshires,” says Bodinger, the event’s co-chair, “but also present a way to start a conversation about affordable housing with those who might not be aware of the issue. The fact is that nonprofits need to raise money, and we knew that having a Gilded Age mansion at our fingertips offered a unique opportunity, an opportunity made even more attractive by adding the talent of local designers working within a ‘Nature in the Berkshires’ theme.”

Visitors will enter the showcase from the Annex’s stone patio, stepping into a wood-paneled space that will be designed by Hammertown. (The room has one of eight fireplaces found in Cassilis.) The kitchen will be Construct’s mission room. Danielle Sweet has space beyond the kitchen, Harry Heissmann and Tillett Textiles are collaborating on the upstairs nursery, and so on. Rooms are reserved for each designer’s interpretation of the theme through their unique artistry.

Jordahl explains that after the event, Construct will create three affordable housing duplexes in the Annex—moving walls and adding staircases and separate entrances. A screened-in patio at the back of the Annex offers views of the three-story Main House, which will become eight apartments, and renovation of two separate houses on the property brings the total to 13 affordable housing units. Construction will start in late-summer, assuming funding needs are met, with apartments ready for tenants in 2026 and the houses earlier than that.

Jordahl leads us into the Main House, noting that the façade of the buildings will not change—a stipulation from the town. Gilded Age details abound, including antique hardware, impressive wood-work, and, of course, gorgeous fireplaces. The center hall will become a Gallery Hall, with artwork loaned by Berkshire artists, including Shawn Fields, Kathryn Freeman, Maurice “Pops” Peterson, Gail Gelburd, and Laura Christensen. Local landscapers are donating time and resources to create an outdoor space worthy of what lies within.

It’s not clear at this point how Cassilis’ two large barns will play into Construct’s future housing plans, but it’s easy to imagine more transformation, as well as new construction at some point down the road.

Construct and the New Marlborough Housing Development Committee bought the 27-acre property in 2022 at an auction. The town currently has no affordable housing, so this is a step to meeting the state mandate that requires all 351 towns and cities in the Commonwealth maintain at least 10 percent of their total year-round housing stock as affordable. According to the Citizens Housing and Planning Association, 71 communities in Massachusetts currently meet that goal, including Pittsfield, Great Barrington, and Stockbridge.

The Cassilis Farm Designer Showcase launch party takes place on May 29 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Partygoers will meet the designers as they tour the house, enjoy appetizers and drinks provided by Old Inn on the Green, and listen to an impressive lineup of speakers. Tickets are $250. General admission is $40, Fridays to Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the month of June.

“This is the most important era for these grand estates,” says Cassilis Project Manager Nichole Dupont, “and Construct sees the opportunity to develop a new meaning.”

Construct Executive Director Jane Ralph sees Cassilis as a win-win. “Not only are we going to transform a Gilded Age mansion to affordable housing while keeping the Gilded Age Mansion look, but I hope we’re also going to transform people’s understanding of what affordable housing is and who we serve. It is a better visibility opportunity than I could have imagined.

“We have over 385 households on our waitlist for about 90 units of housing that we own or manage. What we hope to achieve through the Designer Showcase is to raise the rest of the private equity that we need for the project, about $600,000. What would be really great is if we not only raised the money for Cassilis, but also an opportunity fund so that when a property became available, we could move quickly.” That opportunity could be another Windflower, the Great Barrington inn that Construct bought in 2018 and turned into 13 living spaces.

According to Ralph, most of Construct’s housing is for people with incomes 30 to 60 percent of Area Median Income (AMI). Anyone at or below 80 percent AMI is eligible for Affordable Housing, and Workforce Housing is usually for those earning between 80 to 120 percent AMI. “Affordable is relative,” notes Ralph.

Indeed. Leigh Davis, vice chair of the Great Barrington Selectboard who is running for the state representative seat to be vacated by Smitty Pignatelli, agrees that the Berkshires needs housing for everyone—not only affordable housing, but housing for those earning a decent wage, including teachers, firefighters, and nurses. While the average Great Barrington resident can afford a $350,000 house, the town’s median home price is $783,000.

Countywide, it’s around $475,000, up from $250,000 in 2020.

Davis is encouraged that people are paying attention. “There is a lot of good work happening,” she says. “People are digging in and rowing in the same direction.” Governor Maura Healy’s recently proposed Affordable Homes Act (AHA)—$4.4 billion for housing—is a game changer for the Berkshires, adds Davis.

Beyond Beacon Hill, groups in the Berkshires are pulling together, raising awareness, and finding creative solutions that will make a difference.

The Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire recently completed Windrush Commons—49 affordable apartments on the south side of Great Barrington—and purchased Thornewood Inn on the town’s north end to create 18 Workforce Housing units. And Great Barrington Affordable Housing Trust Fund member Bill Cook proposed a tiny homes development, based on what he saw in Martha’s Vineyard. Small (averaging 750 square feet) but affordable ($225,000) tiny homes are not for everyone, but a piece of the puzzle.

Eagle Mill Redevelopment is creating 128 units of mixed-income housing on the site of Eagle Mill in Lee, one of 25 paper mills that once operated in the town. It was built in 1808, saw eight additions over the years, and closed in 2008. The multi-phased, $80 million project includes replacing, renovating, and building new, for a variety of housing and recreational opportunities.

In addition to physically digging in to create much-needed living space, the solution to the housing crisis includes raising community awareness. How did we get here, and how do we create permanent solutions? To that end, 1Berkshire—the county’s official regional economic organization and regional tourism council—put together a 24-member Berkshire Housing Practitioners Working Group that compiled a 36-page Housing Vision for the Berkshires document. They identified several strategies, including education, creating a supportive environment, advocating, and securing financial resources.

“The idea behind the report,” says 1Berkshire Executive Director Jonathan Butler, “is to understand that different organizations have different missions, but at the end of the day, we all impact each other. A lot has been done to create a common level of understanding, to understand what barriers housing developers are facing, for example.”

Butler is also quick to point out that the governor’s AHA tackles several issues identified in the report—like permitting, state funding, and market-rate development. All are pieces of the puzzle.

Peter Taylor is executive director of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, a public charity whose goal is to improve the region by encouraging philanthropy, pooling and investing resources, addressing urgent needs, and supporting individuals and nonprofits through grants and scholarships. Taylor explains philanthropy’s role in solving the housing crisis. “One big thing we do is partner with nonprofits like Construct and 1Berkshire,” he says. “Our program Neighbor to Neighbor, for example, supports Construct’s Housing Assistance Fund, allowing them to be nimble in helping to keep people in the housing they are currently in.

“A lot of our donors are self-directed, they are living in our communities and know what they want to support. Others work with our staff to connect with issues they care about, including housing affordability. One sector alone is not going to solve this issue.”

The hard work of state government, cities, town, housing and community development organizations, philanthropy, and individual citizens are all pieces of the housing puzzle. To learn more about the Cassilis Farm Designer Showcase, or how to become a corporate sponsor, visit constructberkshires.org. More on 1Berkshires’ housing report at 1berkshire.com.

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Designer Showcase to Benefit Construct

from Berkshire Style: In and Around the Berkshires, an online resource — by Kathryn Boughton

By opulent Gilded Age standards, Cassilis Farm in New Marlborough was a modest château, having a mere 14 bedrooms in the main house and only six more in its annex.

Built in 1890 and burned to the ground in 1902, the rebuilt mansion became the playground in 1910 of wealthy New York City banker Hildreth Kennedy Bloodgood III. It loomed large in elite equestrian circles in the 19th century as Bloodgood, a noted sportsman, and his daughter became preeminent breeders of hackney horses.

After 134 years the property, which has since passed through the hands of several owners, is now poised to enter a new phase of its history. Construct, Inc., a nonprofit provider of affordable housing and supportive services in the southern Berkshires, is preparing to convert it to 11 affordable apartments.

But before the construction begins, the venerable building with its gracious interior will be transformed into a month-long showcase for regional designers. The designers, whose areas of focus range from staging and interiors to styling and textile design, are bringing their unique visions to transform the Gilded Age estate, highlighting the region’s diverse natural beauty and commitment to outdoor conservation and recreation.

“We have 15 designers from the southern Berkshires and New York State,” said Nichole Dupont, showcase project manager. “There are also two landscapers and eight visual artists showing just beautiful works in a gallery in one of the hallways. The Berkshire Gilded Age estates are becoming destinations and this will be a last chance to see the interior of Cassilis Farm before it is renovated.”

The Designer Showhouse opens May 31st and runs through June 30th.

“As we’ve reached out to interior designers, landscape designers and others with our appeal to help us with the showcase, the overwhelming response has been ‘yes!,’” said co-chair and Construct board member Laura Jordahl. “They, like many businesses, have been directly affected by the shortage of affordable housing. All of us know that working to make Cassilis into a place that 11 families will call home will help to strengthen our community ties.”

All proceeds from the event will go directly to much-needed affordable housing in the Berkshires. The housing crisis is at an all-time high in Berkshire County and affects the workforce, the elderly, families and businesses in the New Marlborough area. There is currently no affordable housing in the town and its businesses struggle to keep their doors open because of staffing shortages.

“Housing is the headline of the decade,” said Dupont. “There are currently 375 people on a waiting list in southern Berkshire County alone. It’s the greatest need in the area.” She noted that New Marlborough has been instrumental in pushing the Cassilis Farm project, dedicating ARPA funds to help secure the property.

Dupont said the theme “Nature in the Berkshires,” was chosen because of the location. “New Marlborough is a land-centric community,” she observed. “Some designers took the history of house and paid homage to the 1880s. There is one room with an equestrian, Ralph Lauren, look because of the farm’s history of breeding hackney ponies.

“One designer took inspiration from a Berkshire Eagle article about a mute swan refuge in Pittsfield, and created a swan nursery,” she continued. “It has custom wallpaper and a papier-mâché bassinette with an actual swan in it.

“Another took a small art studio off the main property and turned it into a glass atelier, with a botanicals and period furniture while the Willets Trophy Room, with its 12-foot dining table looks like a gentlemen’s club. There is a bar with a mural of a bookcase with vines growing through it so it looks like nature is entering the room,” she recounted.

The dining room has a “Strawberry Fields” motif in an open, airy chamber highlighted with lush metallic wallpaper and fabrics, according to Dupont. “Strawberry Fields” is an appropriate designation as John Lennon and Yoko Ono were guests at the farm, probably on multiple occasions, when George Maciunas, founder of the Fluxus international art movement, lived there in the 1970s.

Designers include Barrington Outfitters, C Herrington Home Design, Carly Jane Design, Danielle Sweet Interiors, Gallery 315Home Germain Interiors, Hammertown, Harry Heissmann, Irwin Feld Design, Jennifer Bianco Design, Jess Cooney Interiors, Pryor & Peacock, Staged Ryte, Tillett Textiles, Tune Street and Wingate Ltd. “These designers are spending hundreds of hours and other resources on these rooms,” said Dupont.

The landscapers are Helia Native Nursery and Whalen Nursery while artists Laura Christensen, Kathryn Freeman, Ann Getsinger, Pops Peterson/Maurice, Kate Knapp, Gail Gelburd, Shawn Fields, Robin Tost and Bob Watkins will exhibit in the gallery.

“The people I’m working with on the Construct Board of Directors are very dedicated to making this (affordable housing) happen,” reported Dupont. “These are second-home owners who are dedicated to preserving the towns they have chosen to live in. I’m amazed at how they want to build the community.”

“Nature in the Berkshires” will be a timed, ticketed walkthrough and will be open to visitors through five weekends in June. Additional events surrounding the fundraiser include a New Marlborough community day as well as a special Opening Night tour and reception at Cassilis Farm.

Information about the Designer Showcase will be updated on Construct’s dedicated website as well as via Construct’s social media handles. Tickets are now on sale.

For more than 50 years, Construct Inc. has played a role in offering affordable housing in southern Berkshire County. Its accomplishments include managing the construction of Forest Springs, an 11-unit development in Great Barrington, and successfully transforming a local inn into workforce housing. More information on Construct can be found by clicking the link below or by calling 413-528-1985.

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Landlord’s Corner

If you are familiar with the Lenox town center loop, you most likely have seen Andrea Bruce walking it. Or, maybe, even caught her paintings on display at a local gallery. Having called Lenox home for the past half-century, Andrea has undeniably carved out her niche within the community. However, what many may not realize is that Andrea also wears the hat of a. seasoned local landlord. Construct delved into Andrea’s experiences to uncover the realities of being a small scale landlord in south Berkshire County.

Q: What is the hardest thing about being a landlord?

A: The hardest aspect for me is maintaining a reliable income from the property to cover my mortgage. While some tenants are fantastic, taking care of the space and paying rent punctually, others can be challenging. As my lawyer once told me, “tenants have all the rights,” which can make certain situations very difficult. Nonetheless, I’ve found that most people are wonderful, and I’ve even forged lasting friendships through my landlord-tenant relationships.

Q: Do you have other sources of income?

A: Yes, I receive Social Security, and I also operate a small one-room Airbnb from my home. I’m an artist. These additional sources of income contribute significantly to my ability to sustain myself financially as a single, retired woman.

Q: What trends in renting have you noticed over the past few years?

A: There has been a notable influx of people moving into Berkshire County, and developers have capitalized on this trend. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed friends being displaced from their long-term apartments due to buildings being purchased by investors who subsequently raise rents or convert the spaces into Airbnb.

Q: Do you feel that your decision to keep rents reasonable has encouraged good renters to stay long-term?

A: Absolutely. I deliberately keep the rent on the lower side because I don’t believe in overcharging tenants. This approach has attracted many exceptional individuals over the years who have become long-term renters. Ultimately, my goal is to continue living comfortably in my house while treating my tenants fairly. I’m going on 30 years now, so I must be doing something right!

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Fair Housing Training

Fair Housing Training

Join us for a FAIR HOUSING TRAINING on May 17th presented by Ellen T. Maxon, JD.

Throughout her career, Ellen T. Maxon, Retired Civil Rights Investigator & Vermont Human Rights Commission, has investigated allegations of discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and employment. She continues to provide fair housing and implicit bias training.

Please join us:

Friday, May 17th
11:30 am-1:30 pm


Construct Center for Affordable Housing
316 State Road, Great Barrington, MA

Feel free to bring a bag lunch.

Space is limited to 15 participants. There will be a waitlist and additional opportunities for this training depending on interest.

RSVP: drueger@constructberkshire.org

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Warm Up The Winter: The Big Event!

A Stunning Night of Music and Community

Our Warm Up The Winter Concert was held March 7th at the Egremont Barn. What a night! Incredible performances from The Wanda Houston Band, The Interns, Billy Keene, Jackson Whalan, Matt Cusson, Andy Wrba, Matt Steckler, Natalia Bernal & Jason Ennis, and Jackson Ducharme. Many thanks to our hosts, Josh Irwin and Lauren Ambrose.

The generous concert attendees helped us raise an additional $10,000 towards our Warm Up The Winter campaign.

We’re getting close to our goal!

You can help us get there — this is your last chance to contribute. Help us help our neighbors.

Click slide to see full sized image.

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Construct to host Designer Showcase at historic Cassilis Farm in New Marlborough, June 2024

Fundraising initiative for affordable housing space in the southern Berkshires

New Marlborough, Mass. – Construct, Inc., a nonprofit provider of affordable housing and supportive services to residents in fifteen towns across the southern Berkshires, is proud to announce its first Designer Showcase event/exhibition. Slated for the entire month of June 2024, the Designer Showcase will highlight the work of more than a dozen local and regional designers, as well as landscape architects and visual artists. Each exhibitor has been assigned a space at Cassilis Farm, a 27-acre, Gilded Age estate that Construct, along with the New Marlborough Housing Development Committee, purchased at auction with the intention of renovating and converting it into 11 much needed affordable housing apartments.

“We have the opportunity to take advantage of Construct having acquired this magnificent estate,” says Construct Board Secretary Hinda Bodinger, who is also co-chair for the Designer Showcase Committee. “Utilizing such a beautiful space allows us to highlight the talent of the designers, and to share our mission in a unique way with the greater community.”

Cassilis Farm

“As we’ve reached out to interior designers, landscape designers and others with our appeal to help us with the Showcase, the overwhelming response has been ‘YES!,’” says co-chair and Construct board member Laura Jordahl. “Because they, like many businesses, have been directly affected by the shortage of affordable housing. All of us know that working to make Cassilis into a place that 11 families will call home will help to strengthen our community ties.”

The Designer Showcase, themed “Nature in the Berkshires,” will be a timed, ticketed walkthrough and will be open to visitors through five weekends in June. Additional events surrounding the fundraiser include a New Marlborough community day as well as a special Opening Night tour and reception at Cassilis Farm.

Information about the Designer Showcase will be updated on Construct’s dedicated website, as well as via Construct’s social media handles. Tickets may be purchased online beginning April 1, 2024.

Berkshire Magazine is the official media sponsor of the Construct Designer Showcase.

Based in Great Barrington, MA, Construct has been the leading nonprofit provider of affordable housing and supportive services to south Berkshire County residents in need for more than 50 years. Providing more than 90 permanent, affordable housing options, Construct also offers ten units for individuals transitioning out of homelessness, and is building affordable housing in New Marlborough, MA. The bulk of Construct’s annual income comes from individual donors. With this support, Construct helps rebuild security, stability, and hope in the southern Berkshires. 

More information on Construct can be found at constructberkshires.org or by calling (413) 528-1985.

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