NEW BEDFORD — A new program will provide federal COVID relief funding to redevelop vacant properties in New Bedford, according to an announcement from the mayor's office on Tuesday.

The goal of the Vacant or Abandoned Property Rehabilitation Program is to revitalize neighborhoods and combat urban blight in the city by returning vacant properties to productive use, according to a release from Mayor Jon Mitchell's office.

Up to half of project costs will be covered for approved redevelopment projects, with the grant awards coming out of the city's American Rescue Plan Act funding.

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According to the mayor's office, the new program will look for "substantial" projects that already have additional sources of revenue and are ready to begin funded activities within one year of receiving the grant.

Funded activities can include complete demolition as well as rehabilitation or renovation.

Eligible projects can be residential, commercial, or industrial properties, or even vacant lots, according to the city's official Request for Response — but they must have been unoccupied for at least six months.

They must also be within the city's Qualified Census Tract, as defined by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

New Bedford's QCT area stretches from Tinkham Street in the North End down to the hurricane barrier at Clark's Point, and extends west as far as Shawmut Avenue to Cedar, Chancery, Orchard and Crapo streets.

New Bedford's Qualified Census Tract 2022
Courtesy U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development/Google Maps

Total project costs must be at least $750,000 to be eligible for the funding, and no chain stores or franchises are allowed to apply.

And any proposed demolition or renovation cannot decrease the total number of occupiable housing units, according to the mayor's office.

“Revitalizing underutilized properties can energize businesses and neighborhoods alike,” Mitchell said. “This program will give developers and businesses the support they need to move stalled projects forward.”

The New Bedford Historical Commission will act as a design review board to evaluate and approve projects, the mayor's office stated.

“Advocating for the revitalization of blighted neighborhoods has been a top priority for me throughout my City Council service,” City Council President Ian Abreu said.

“I am very supportive of leveraging these one-time ARPA dollars to support efforts to restore the community integrity that every pocket of our city deserves.”

Costs associated with acquiring the legal title to a vacant or abandoned property can also be covered by the grants, as well as the cost of remediating environmental contaminants.

Responses are due on Sept. 30.

For more information or to submit a response, email


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