Nonprofit may provide housing

The New Haven Housing Authority and Common Ground Community, a New York-based nonprofit housing developer, may be teaming up to provide New Haven residents with 20 to 30 more subsidized housing units, interim Housing Authority Director Regina Winters said.

The Elm City and Common Ground are in preliminary negotiations, she said, that could result in the construction of two new buildings in New Haven.

“[The negotiations are] in the very early stages, but we’re hoping that they will produce around 20 to 30 units for that population that has special needs and is at risk of homelessness,” Winters said.

The additional units could help to alleviate the high demand for affordable housing in New Haven, she said.

Common Ground runs several supportive housing facilities in New York City and one in Willimantic, Conn. While the organization has provided housing primarily in New York, its director of communications, Kelly Castagnaro, said it is trying to expand its services to more of Connecticut.

“We are looking for further opportunities to provide housing for lower income and formerly homeless individuals in Connecticut,” she said. “We are always looking to expand our efforts. We look forward to working with the community of New Haven.”

Common Ground’s supportive housing model provides services such as mental health care and job training to residents in its buildings. Prices are generally set at 30 percent of a resident’s income.

Winters said there is currently a waiting list for both Section 8 housing vouchers, which provide federal funds to families to rent apartments, and affordable housing units offered by the Housing Authority. The wait list, with 1,000 families on it, is currently full. The authority is now providing around 2,400 units, but only about 1,800 are used at a given time while the rest are undergoing maintenance, Winters said.

“The wait list is not perpetually open,” she said. “When it gets too long, we close it.”

David Tian ’07, co-coordinator of the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project, said Common Ground’s supportable housing could have a positive impact on New Haven.

“Whenever you open up more supportive housing is wonderful,” he said.

According to YHHAP, 1,300 New Haven residents are without homes. Around 4,000 will experience homelessness this year.

While Common Ground housing costs $10,000 to $12,000 per year per resident to maintain, prisons and shelters can cost from $25,000 to $30,000 per year per resident. Psychiatric hospital beds can cost upward of $250,000, according to Common Ground.

There are currently several supportive housing organizations running buildings in New Haven, including ALSO-Cornerstone, Columbus House, Continuum of Care and Fellowship Place.

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