Malloy allots $30 million to supportive housing

An initiative by Gov. Dannel Malloy promises to give Connecticut’s supportive housing landscape a facelift.

On Friday, Malloy announced that he has allotted over $30 million of the state’s 2012 budget to constructing and improving supportive housing facilities in Connecticut. The funding will be distributed among six projects in New Haven, Hartford, Bridgeport, New London and Waterbury, and construction will begin by this fall. Malloy said in a March 23 press release announcing the funding that supportive housing is a long-term and cost-effective solution to homelessness.

“These housing units give people a chance to build a life that includes family, friends, community and employment,” Malloy said in the press release.

The allotted money will fund the acquisition and construction or rehabilitation of residences in the five cities, said James Watson, spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, as well as various costs ranging from materials to architectural services and legal fees. The funding also includes $1.5 million for rental assistance and $1.1 million for service subsidies, he added.

The six projects earned financial support based on evaluations by the Connecticut Interagency Committee on Supportive Housing of their readiness to proceed, quality of the development team, service plan characteristics and financial and site feasibility, Watson said.

Supportive housing combines affordable rental homes with personalized health and employment services. Addressing both needs saves money by reducing costly interventions such as admission to emergency shelters, hospitalization and imprisonment, Malloy said in the press release. Chris Peterson, director of real estate development and facilities management at Columbus House, a New Haven-based supportive housing provider on Ella T. Grasso Boulevard, said this holistic approach creates stability that “stops the revolving door” by providing services in addition to keeping residents off the streets.

Columbus House is one of the renovation projects funded by the $30 million, and will use its portion of the money to renovate 17 housing units in an existing building, Peterson said.

The Bridgeport Neighboorhood Trust will construct 30 new apartments in Bridgeport, said Elizabeth Torres, its executive director. Ten will be supportive housing units, 10 will be affordable units and 10 will be rented at market prices, she said. These three categories of residency types will allow the once-homeless to move gradually to independent home rental and ownership, she said.

The building will be in an underdeveloped area of downtown Bridgeport, making it a “cornerstone project” for the city, Torres said.

“It’s going to create a lot of jobs,” she said. “This could be the project that connects this part of downtown with the city’s vision for development.”

For the past decade, the Interagency Committee on Supportive Housing has been the state’s administrative organization responsible for providing these residency units for Connecticut’s homeless. The Committee consists of representatives from eight agencies, including the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Out of 3.5 million people in Connecticut, over 4,000 are homeless, according to the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness website.

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