Joshua Freifeld wants the community to know it has a good friend and neighbor in the Chautauqua Home Rehabilitation and Improvement Corporation.
The CHRIC board of directors and staff held a reception Wednesday, welcoming Freifeld as the organization's new executive director. A reception was also held at the Clarion Hotel in Dunkirk last week.
"I bring passion and excitement, not only for the community - I'm actually from Westfield and went to SUNY Fredonia - so, I know the area a little bit," Freifeld said. "I'm excited to come back and I have a passion for the area. That's always something that I think goes unnoticed a lot of times."
Previously, Freifeld worked as a grant writer and administrator, as well as program management, at the Redevelopment Authority for the city of Erie, Pa.
"At the Erie Redevelopment Authority, I was always looking for some additional responsibilities," Freifeld said. "I was in charge of Community Development Block Grants and some HOME grants as well. I wanted to expand it a little bit more, and this position will allow me to do that. I'm very excited about that opportunity."
The CDBG and HOME funds Freifeld secured totaled more than $700,000 per year for the city of Erie. Additionally, Freifeld was in charge of securing more than $950,000 in state funding in the form of Housing and Redevelopment Assistance Grants for Historic Preservation projects. He also successfully completed the first phase - and nearly completed the second before leaving - of a four-phase project called the Union Square Revitalization Project, which was to provide mixed-use retail and town houses in Erie's downtown area.
Recently, the Redevelopment Authority for the city of Erie was awarded a new $3 million Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration Grant, which Freifeld wrote before he left. The grant will provide lead remediation in more than 200 homes throughout Erie County, Pa.
The CHRIC works to help low-to-moderate income residents of Chautauqua County repair and maintain their homes. It also provides assistance with homeownership education to first-time homebuyers. Recently, CHRIC has branched out to provide communities with assistance in bringing grant funding in for community development projects.
Now that he has been named executive director, Freifeld said his first order of business is to close out some of the organization's bigger projects.
"For example, the Dunkirk Lighthouse project is a project that we're trying to bring to completion. We've done a part of it, and we need to finish up that, so I'd like to bring some of the bigger projects to an end, and look to further what we already have," he said. "We're going to look to apply for some bigger grants going forward, engage some extra community partners that might have been left aside in the past, I'd certainly like to bring the community engagement back, and just be out in the community as much as possible, especially in our programs to let people know they have a good friend and a neighbor here."