Not-For-Profit Seeks Support To Keep Rebuilding In Hill

Thomas Breen photoA city not-for-profit that has spent nearly 40 years rehabilitating historic houses and supporting stable homeownership in the city’s poorest communities is looking for another round of federal grant money to help it continue its housing renovation and education work in the Hill, Newhallville and Dwight neighborhoods.

Bridgette Russell and Elias Estabrook of Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) made that pitch during the Hill North Community Management Team’s regular monthly meeting in the cafeteria at Hill Regional Career High School on Legion Avenue.

Russell, the managing director of NHS’s HomeOwnership Center, and Estabrook, an AmeriCorps VISTA member in NHS’s Community Building & Development division, presented at Tuesday night’s meeting to ask the team for a letter of community support as NHS prepares its application to the city for $150,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for the coming fiscal year.

The city receives $6 million in CDBG funds every year from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The city then distributes that money to local social service organizations of its choosing that work on affordable housing, care for the disabled and elderly, and neighborhood revitalization.

NHS’s CDBG funding request is actually twofold. One application is for $100,000 for NHS, which the organization would use to fund physical improvements for the 10 houses throughout the city that it is currently rehabbing. The other application is for $50,000 for the HomeOwnership Center, an NHS offshot that focuses on providing homebuyer education, financial counseling, mortgage intervention assistance, and other educational services for new and existing homeowners.

According to the latest city budget, NHS requested $100,000 in CDBG funding for the current fiscal year, and received $45,181. The HomeOwnership Center requested $50,000 in CDBG funding for the current fiscal year, and received $8,438.

Estabrook told the management team on Tuesday night that NHS has been focusing on Stevens Street in the Hill for a number of years.

Last year it finished a gut rehab of 12 Stevens St., a three-story wooden building that was first constructed in 1905 and fell into foreclosure and disrepair in the early 2000s on a city block that has long struggled with blight and violence.

NHS bought the house in 2012, installed new insulation and energy-efficient windows and rehabbed plaster walls. It sold the house to Courtney Walker, a first-time homeowner, in November 2017.

Estabrook said that NHS is now focusing on a vacant, dilapidated home just down the block at 29 Stevens St., which NHS purchased in 2014. He said that they were hoping to have that building renovation completed by the end of 2018.

“We’ve been working on Stevens Street for several years and we hope to continue making an impact with the houses we work on,” Estabrook said, “and also by working at the community garden and by participating in block parties.”

Estabrook said that each NHS building rehab project usually takes around $300,000 to complete.

After the meeting, Estabrook told the Independent that seven of the 57 New Haven homes that NHS has restored since 2010 are in the Hill neighborhood. All seven of those Hill homes are currently occupied. In addition to 12 Stevens St., NHS restored a two-family home at 422 Legion Ave. in 2010, a two-family home at 46 Frank St. in 2011, a two-family home at 311 Greenwich Ave. in 2012, a single-family home at 46 Stevens St. in 2013, a two-family home at 570 Howard Ave. in 2015, and a two-family home at 51 Frank St. in 2016. He said that 29 Stevens St. is the only home in the Hill that NHS plans on completing this year.

Russell followed Estabrook at Tuesday night’s meeting with a pitch for supporting funding for the educational services provided by the HomeOwnership Center.

“I want to make sure that people know their options so that they make the best choices in the process,” she said, “and so that they can be at the end of the day sustainable homeowners, not just people who are purchasing homes.”

She said that the HomeOwnership Center works with prospective homeowners on down payment and closing cost assistance, and offers homebuyer education classes and one-on-one consultations. She said that they see over 1,500 people every year for their education classes and individual financial consultations, and that they help produce around 200 new homeowners in New Haven every year.

“What is the process for becoming a homeowner through Neighborhood Housing Services?” asked management team chair Lena Largie. “Is there a first obligation to whoever lives in the community.”

“If we’re doing a house in the Hill, they don’t necessarily have to already live in the Hill,” Russell said. “But, whoever purchases the house has to be willing to be an owner-occupant.” She said that the money that NHS gets to do the development and to help with down payment and closing cost assistance all require that the recipient occupies the house after purchasing it.

She also stressed that NHS’s housing reach extends well beyond the specific building that they renovate. She said that the HomeOwnership Center’s educational courses and financial consulting services encourage homeownership throughout the city, regardless of whether or not the purchased homes were worked on by NHS.

“Our whole thing is really sustainable homeownership,” she said.

At the end of the meeting, Largie said that she is interested in supporting NHS, but that she and her leadership committee need to further review the handouts provided by NHS on Tuesday night before formally signing off on a letter of recommendation for the CDBG application. Estabrook said that the CDBG application is due at the end of January.

Tags: , , ,

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry

Comments

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 10, 2018  6:40pm

You be a fool to buy a house in this state.In fact More people are selling and moving out of this state.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on January 11, 2018  8:10am

3/5ths, CT as a whole is seeing lots of out-migration. New Haven, in contrast, is seeing substantial in-migration and population growth. You have posted occasionally on gentrification. If the local housing market is so bad, why are people moving here?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 12, 2018  6:20am

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on January 11, 2018 8:10am

3/5ths, CT as a whole is seeing lots of out-migration. New Haven, in contrast, is seeing substantial in-migration and population growth. You have posted occasionally on gentrification. If the local housing market is so bad, why are people moving here?

There not moving here in droves.In fact the some of them on my block have been here for about three years are putting there homes on the market and moving south.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on January 12, 2018  4:01pm

3/5ths, a couple hundred apartments are currently under construction. Construction will start next month on the 269-unit Audubon Square project. According to another NHI story, construction will start later this year on a 299-unit project in Wooster Square.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 13, 2018  10:48am

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on January 12, 2018 4:01pm
3/5ths, a couple hundred apartments are currently under construction. Construction will start next month on the 269-unit Audubon Square project. According to another NHI story, construction will start later this year on a 299-unit project in Wooster Square.

And how many people will be able to afford the rents?

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on January 13, 2018  5:33pm

3/5ths, I suspect most people currently living in New Haven will not be able to afford the apartments under construction or in the pipeline. The developer of Audubon Square noted that he anticipates that its rents will be comparable to 360 State Street, although its units will be larger. But he and the other developers are betting millions of dollars, including their own money, that enough of the units will be rented to make a profit.