Come this Friday, the New Haven Housing Authority hopes to have an additional $4 million to combat urban blight.
The State Bond Commission is expected to approve the grant at its Jan. 26 meeting to help fund the Quinnipiac Terrace Redevelopment Project in Fair Haven, Governor M. Jodi Rell announced last Thursday. While the funding will not be enough to complete the project, the city is in the process of searching for other sources of money to cover the cost of renovating the run-down housing complex. In the meantime, some politicians are expressing reservations about the project’s details, which they say may place an undue burden on certain residents.
“They were just old housing, big buildings,” said Andrew Rizzo, the executive director of the New Haven’s Livable City Initiative. “They’re making them more homey-type houses, more modernized.”
The removal of the old apartments, which were built in 1941, is the latest part of the city’s ongoing campaign to replace the dilapidated housing projects built in the era of urban renewal with smaller, mixed-income housing units. The first phase of the redevelopment project was completed in July of last year, when some residents began moving into newly renovated units. The second and final phase, which the grant money will help fund, began last September and is expected to be completed by 2008.
Rell hailed the project as a testament to the potential impact of collaboration between different levels of government.
“This project … will help stabilize the community and help strengthen the economic potential of residents,” Rell said in a statement. “Quinnipiac Terrace is another example of how federal, state and local officials can work together to improve our communities in Connecticut.”
Representatives from the NHHA could not be reached for comment.
Ward 11 Alderman Robert Lee, who chairs the Ad Hoc Committee on the Housing Authority, said that while he supports the renovations — which he said will help working families purchase houses — he is concerned about the city’s plan to split the project in two by building an additional 29 units away from the central site. The placement of the separate units are a burden on other city residents located near them who had no say in the matter, he said.
“They’re not happy with it in their community,” Lee said. “They should have built a park there instead of 29 units. Now there’s a big density problem, and they can’t do anything about it but eat it. Back-door deals are made and taxpayers get caught in the middle.”
The units will be located on St. Anthony’s Street, a tiny, winding street across the Quinnipiac River on the other side of New Haven.
The Web site for Abt Associates, the consulting firm that helped write the original application for redevelopment funding in 2002, states that the project was split between two geographical locations to give residents more choices as to where to live.
Rizzo acknowledged that not everyone currently living in the housing project will be able to stay in the new apartments due to space constraints. He said any plan to accommodate displaced residents would come from the NHAA. But Rizzo said the new houses will be a major improvement for those who will remain in the project.
“It’s so far superior — it’s 10 steps up from what it was,” he said. “There’s a sense of a neighborhood, it’s not just dark and dingy. The houses look like houses: they’re multicolored, they made streets. It just brings up the caliber of living.”