Perkins Street No Longer “Tipping”

Allan Appel PhotoThe Reverend Robert Keene, who was homeless for a year in 1997, helped cut the ribbon Friday on a spiffy rehab of a Fair Haven home, where four homeless families could be moving in as soon as Christmas.

The reverend (pictured) and his company, comprising primarily formerly homeless men, completed the nearly half-million dollars worth of re-construction. That work included the removal of serious mold that set in after an out-of-town bank abandoned the house to suffer severe water damage.

The four-family home, at 76-82 Perkins St., is the second of 15 homes being developed by the city and non-profit partners with “stimulus” money through the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). The program works to rescue vacant or foreclosed homes in fragile areas where one fixed-up building could keep a street from tipping towards blight. The rehabs also provide badly needed affordable and supportive housing.

Four lucky families will move in to the house soon, supported by Section Eight vouchers through the Housing Authority of New Haven. Supportive services will also be provided by New Haven Home Recovery (NHHR), one of the housing non-profits working with the city. Thanks to a deal with the city, NHHR is now the landlord of the building.

Kellyann Day (at right in photo), NHHR’s executive director, said that in the past three months NHHR has received 443 requests for emergency shelter.

“That’s up 355 percent over the same period last year. That should dispel any notion that there isn’t a continuing housing crisis,” said Day .

The city bought the vacant property for $93,000 and sold it to NHRR for $109,000. That deal was made possible by $3.2 million in NSP funds, which New Haven won in March 2009.

With support from the Greater New Haven Community Loan Fund’s ROOF project, the Livable City Initiative, and other partners, that $3.2 million grew to $5.8 million in private financing and grant funding. With those funds, and facing pressing deadlines from NSP, the city bought 15 properties in “tipping” neighborhoods, where a single intervention could make a difference in blight prevention.

The city did such a good job mobilizing the community and assembling partners, it recently won another million dollars in NSP funding this summer, and more might be coming, said Housing and Urban Development field director Julia Fagan (on the far left with Day in ribbon cutting photo above), who also spoke at the festive proceedings.

Another house, on Dover Street, was purchased a year ago and rehabbed in the spring. Click here for that story.

Perkins Street is the second. Thirteen others already lined up to be rehabbed in the coming months as affordable or supportive housing in other “tipping” areas of the city. Another ribbon-cutting, for the third of the 15 properties, is scheduled for February on Read Street in Newhallville.

Staffer Kimberly Junior from the office of U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro said, “The neighbors feared it [76-82 Perkins St.] would be an eyesore. No longer. For the women and children [who will be moving in] you’ve given them an invaluable gift: Hope.”

After the talks, the house was ready for four families to move into the four 1,000 square foot units, each with two bedrooms, and lots of energy-efficient appliances. The floors, of high quality hardwood, shone a kind of welcome to the 50 people who toured.

The families have not yet been selected. That process is expected to be completed and the families moved in by Christmas.

“For supportive housing, you want to create a project they can hold for 30 years,” said Eva Heintzelman of ROOF, who was one of the key coordinators of the complicated legal and financial hurdles overcome to bring the project efficiently from purchase in April to completion in December.

IN addition to NHHR, other local housing non-profits are working on the remaining NSP re-habs, all of which went through a competitive bidding process. Five properties are being developed by the Corporation for Independent Living: 23 and 30 Bassett St., 97 Porter St. and 57 Truman St. in the Hill, and 106 Peck St. in Fair Haven.

Neighborworks New Horizons is developing 194 and 212 Dover St., 166 Saltonstall Ave., and 148 Lloyd St. The latter has just been completed and has a buyer, said the Greater New Haven Community Loan Fund’s Naveed Sobhan.

Neighborhood Housing Services is fixing up 35 Stevens St., while 5 Stevens Street in the Hill is being developed by Robert Keene’s Keene Development Corporation.

Of the completion of 76 Perkins Street, Keene said “It’s a wonderful feeling.”

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posted by: FRANK ALVARADO on December 3, 2010  4:48pm

This is wonderful for the families and Fairhaven, it would be great if the Grand Avenue SSD and SAMA were notified of these events so we could share in the success.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 3, 2010  5:30pm

As soon as the king john tax hike comes in,They will be gone.

posted by: Terry Freeman on December 4, 2010  9:45am

We’ve lived next door to this house for 23 years, and are very pleased with how it has gone from being a boarded-up, dangerous wreck to a newly-renovated home for four families. Everyone involved deserves praise and recognition for this project,a worthy result of stimulus dollars at work. We also appreciated NHHR for their sensitivity to neighbors and their willingness to meet with many of us several times, keeping us informed and involved. We didn’t think of Perkins St. as “tipping” before - it was just one house on a street of good neighbors - but we’re happy it has been fixed!
Terry Freeman