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MHP honors 3 as housing heroes

June 14, 2013

DEVENS, Ma., June 14, 2013 --- A mayor, a community volunteer and an executive director of a suburban housing authority were honored this week with Housing Hero awards at the Massachusetts Housing Partnership's seventh annual Housing Institute training for local officials and volunteers.

Housing HeroesMayor Michael Tautznik of Easthampton, Nancy Tavernier of Acton and David Hedison of the Chelmsford Housing Authority were all honored for their outstanding work in increasing the supply of affordable housing in their communities.

The three award winners were honored at the Housing Institute's awards luncheon on June 12, the first day of the two-day training session. The Patrick Administration's Undersecretary for Housing, Aaron Gornstein, introduced each recipient, summarized their contributions and presented them with awards and citations from their state legislators.

Tautznik, who has been Easthampton's only mayor since the community changed to a city form of government in 1996, was honored for unwavering support of affordable housing even in the face of local opposition. Tautzik received a legislative citation from state Senator Michael Knapik.

"Housing is an essential building block to a good society, and a key ingredient to having a successful life and not being a drain on society," said Tautznik, who is retiring this fall.

Tavernier was honored for her more than 20 years of service as a member and chairman of the Acton Community Housing Corporation. During that time, Tavernier is credited with overseeing initial discussions with Ch. 40B developers that resulted in 340 rental units (78 affordable), assisting first-time homebuyers and advocating for the successful transformation of the old high school into 15 affordable rental homes.

Tavernier received a legislative citation from state Representative Cory Atkins. State Senator James Eldridge attended the event and praised Tavernier for her efforts.

"You haven't just made an impact through the affordable housing you've created, but your work also sends a message to your legislators that housing is important," said Eldridge, who is chairman of the legislature's Joint Committee on Housing.

"Affordable housing is not easy," said Tavernier. "You have to believe in it and you have to have the patience to slog through all the process and programs. But you do it because of the looks you see on the faces of the people who benefit from the affordable housing."

Hedison was honored for more than 20 years of service as executive director of the Chelmsford Housing Authority, a post he assumed in 1994 when he was 24 years old. In that time, Hedison?s nonprofit affiliates have developed over 200 affordable homes that have reached a variety of populations, including seniors, families, the disabled, the homeless and military veterans. Hedison was also honored for focusing on creating supportive services for his residents through a nonprofit called CHOICE. Hedison received legislative citations from state Representative Atkins and state Senator Michael Barrett.

"I have one of the best jobs in the world," said Hedison. "I have a great staff, I love the people I work with and love the fact that we are working together to make a difference in people's lives."

For the past three years, MHP has honored local leaders with Housing Heroes at its Housing Institute training. Awards are given each year in three categories: community volunteer, elected official and municipal or housing authority employee. Past winners include:

  • Elected official: Northampton Mayor Claire Higgins (2011); Williamstown Board of Selectmen (2012).
  • Volunteer: Charles Raskin, Wayland (2011); Don Dickinson, Cape Cod Habitat for Humanity (2012).
  • Municipal or housing authority employee: Valerie Foster Chatham (2011); Jo-Ann Howe, Sudbury (2012).
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