The mission of Berkshire Housing Development Corporation (BHDC) is to improve the quality of life for residents of Berkshire County by increasing affordable housing opportunities; delivering community development programs and projects; and operating a professional management company.
BHDC is a private non profit organization that serves all of Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Since its founding in 1971 it has focused on improving the lives of Berkshire County residents by creating affordable housing, providing housing services and programs and helping communities access and administer community development projects. Berkshire Housing’s subsidiary Berkshire Housing Services, Inc. (BHSI) is a professional full service property management company that manages affordable housing, private community associations and commercial property.
BHDC has produced more than 2,000 new and rehabilitated housing units and has carried out a wide variety of community development projects including town infrastructure projects such as sewer and water systems, street and sidewalk renovations, construction of 4 senior centers and the adaptive reuse of vacant blighted downtown buildings. The organization also manages 565 affordable housing and administers approximately 570 Section 8 rental vouchers. It assists annually over 170 households maintain or secure housing through its housing stabilization programs that it operates in partnership with the Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority. BHDC also serves as the region’s Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) providing homebuyer and housing counseling, information and referrals to an average of 1600 households each year.
During the 1970's Berkshire County faced serious housing problems. Urban renewal programs had demolished hundreds of housing units and few had been replaced. The number of families increased and a serious housing shortage developed; families were forced to double up. Housing code violations and substandard living conditions were prevalent in both large and small communities. New federal housing programs had been established to address these housing issues, but there was no organization in Berkshire County equipped to work with these programs because of their complexity. In 1970, several local organizations began discussions to address these problems. They included the Berkshire County Regional Planning Commission, the Association of Business and Commerce (now the Central Berkshire Chamber of Commerce) the Northern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce and the now defunct Pittsfield Urban Coalition. With a HUD planning grant, they hired the National Urban Coalition to study the County's housing problems and devise a strategy to address the problems. The result was a report issued in May 1970, which recommended the establishment of a new non-profit organization. Berkshire Housing Development Corporation, dedicated to developing improved affordable housing opportunities for low and moderate-income residents of the Berkshires. It also recommended that a management company, Berkshire Housing Services, Inc., be established to manage the housing that was built.
The organization voted to implement the recommendations and developed a plan to raise working capital and organize the new corporation. Bonds were sold to local banks, churches and others made sizeable donations. The bondholder and donors named representatives to the first Board of Directors and they were joined by a number of community representatives. Many of these institutions have maintained the Board membership for many years. Berkshire Housing Development Corp., was incorporated in April, 1971 and Berkshire Housing Services, Inc. was incorporated in December, 1971. In September, 1971 Berkshire Housing hired a President and began their mission of developing affordable housing. Some of the bondholders regarded their investment as contributions to a noble cause, but had low expectations for the new organization. Those founders still in the area expressed wonderment at Berkshire Housing's accomplishments over the first 25 years and the strong position and reputation it enjoys as it continues its second quarter century of work.