“You Don’t See Affordable Housing Like This!”

Lynn Walker (pictured), whose 18 year-old son Johnny died in a shooting this summer, is one of the tenants moving into a new affordable housing complex that’s spiffing up a run-down stretch of Fair Haven. “This place is a blessing to me,” said Walker, poking through sunlit rooms of the Mutual Housing Association’s 24-unit development after a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday.

(Click here to watch a video of the ribbon-cutting shot by Empower New Haven’s Tom Ficklin.)

Walker and her five kids are already packing up their bags, eager to enter a new home in one of the seven buildings in the 300-block of Ferry and Poplar Streets. They’re scheduled to move in on Nov. 1. Walker, who now lives in “nasty” conditions near Chapel Street and Winthrop Avenue, says she feels “blessed” to make the change.

She’ll move into one of six “supportive housing” apartments designated for people who’ve struggled with homelessness, addiction, illness or other hardships. A central community center will hold offices for social service agencies who’ve partnered with Mutual Housing to provide a system of support: New Haven Home Recovery, Inc; Coordinating Council for Children in Crisis, Inc.; Cornerstone, Inc. and The Connection, Inc.

“This is going to push me and give me strength to carry on,” said Walker, who’s still grappling with her son’s death — he was taken off life support after being shot in the head on Aug. 20. She doesn’t know which apartment she’ll live in yet — the rehabbed townhouses on Poplar Street or the newly built ones on Ferry Street (workers, pictured, are still finishing those up).

Walker and a crew of supporters and Fair Haveners toured two of the Poplar Street homes Thursday, oohing and aahing at the hardwood floors and granite countertops (pictured). “You don’t get affordable housing like this!” noted visitor Lee Cruz. Apartments are available to families making 25 to 70 percent of the Area Median Income.

The apartments are also “energy efficient,” using Energy Star products — Click here to read more about their eco-friendly components. As visitors sipped Perrier and ate baklava during a brief lunch ceremony in the new community room, Seila Bruno-Mosquera, executive director of the Mutual Housing Association of South Central Connecticut, gave a special thanks to the Greater New Haven Community Loan Fund for lending the agency $500,000 to buy the blighted buildings at a time when no one else believed the project possible.

The $6.6 million project was financed with grants from the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, the city of New Haven, and the National Equity Fund. The Corporation for Supportive Housing, NeighborWorks America, the state Department of Economic and Community Development, NewAlliance Bank and Citizen’s Bank gave interim financing.

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posted by: Rick Jones on October 11, 2006  3:18pm

The pictures tell the story. These homes seem very nice and well built.Now, are there any programs in New Haven that can teach our young BLACK YOUTH how to build homes for themselves like these.The Black Youth of today need to learn a skill or a trade and to become self employed.Are there any local General Contractors in and around the New Haven Area that might be willing to employ youth and teach them a skill?

What ever happened to Brack Portier of Six Carpenters in New Haven. He was a successful carpenter that did a lot of work in New Haven. If he is still in New Haven,perhaps he might have some ideas on how to get the Black Youth in New Haven employed and develop technical skills.

posted by: Rose on October 16, 2006  9:37pm

Rick,

There is a program, a 501c-3, for the exact purpose you mention, but funding has always been unavailable, and I, the founder, also got sidetracked.  Reply via this forum and I will share the idea.  At this time I need to develop a plan, but I retain significant associations aware of, and supportive of the program.  It is more than a one person task.
Partnership for Neighborhood Recovery

The Partnership for Neighborhood Recovery is a grassroots organization that seeks to ensure the lasting rehabilitation of individuals for the overall benefit of their communities.  We provide hands-on job training, as well as, a life skills program for neighborhood residents who are at-risk youths or ex-offenders, while expanding the supply of permanent affordable housing in urban areas.

The organization seeks to establish alliances with neighborhood consortiums and existing agencies in order to identify properties that would benefit from the program.  Eligible participants will be determined through recommendations from local Social Service agencies, law enforcement, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Corrections.  They will undergo a program that includes job training, ongoing life skills, counseling and support services, and a re-entry program to prevent recidivism.  We intend to raise capital to sustain this initiative through grants, foundations, and contributions from the private sector.

The expected outcomes from this program include community and participant rehabilitation.  We foresee an increase in affordable housing and an improvement to the neighborhood economy.  Graduates will become lifelong contributors to the areas with their newly acquired job and life skills.  This will be ensured through sustained support.

The assessment plan includes pre and post participant interviews, as well as, pre and post surveys of the involved agencies.  A meaningful evaluation will be used to make adjustments and improvements to the program.  I can email the entire program overview, or meet to discuss.

posted by: Rick Jones on October 18, 2006  11:58am

Rose,
I enjoyed your comments.I glad to hear of a program that exists. I believe that this type of program should be started again. It’s very important that the black youth of today learn a trade or a skill. It’s like I said earlier,we as a people need to learn how become independent. There is no reason why some black contractors get together and build homes for the community,but teach the youth survival skills.You mentioned funding,why can the community learn how to fund itself(raise money for what’s needed).Having grown up in New Haven,I would be willing to help out any way I can,but I now live/work in WasH. D.C.

Now that Yale is going to take over some of the city streets,I believe it would be a good idea to have Yale make a committment to the youth of the city. There was an article in the New Haven Advocate that spoke of the Yale students designing a house on Henry St. I blasted the black youth putting emphasis on drugs,guns,and killings over property that don’t even own. They should be banging down the doors at the Yale School of Architecture trying to get the same skills that the students. The students will get the degrees and (we) will have to go them for jobs.

Is there any mentoring program that could be set up between Yale and the community. Now THAT YALE wants to take control of the streets,they should make a commitment to our youth and the city of New Haven.
You can e-mail me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Look forward to hearing from you!!!
Rick