On Lloyd Street in Fair Haven, neighboring houses resemble a before-and-after advertisement for rehabilitation. One recently renovated model boasts a fresh coat of pale blue paint; the other is boarded up and abandoned, with its paint peeling and windows cracked.
The two houses give the five staff members of the Fair Haven Development Corporation, based across the street from them, a perfect view of how their work affects the neighborhood.
In the past few years, the nonprofit FHDC has begun working to increase homeownership for low to moderate income families by rehabilitating vacant, blighted properties.
“We didn’t do a whole lot in the way of housing until recently,” FHDC Executive Director James Welter said. “Then the blight in the neighborhood was getting worse.”
FHDC is currently in the process of acquiring and renovating several properties on Lloyd Street. Some of these properties have already been offered for sale to low and moderate income home buyers.
“It’s gut rehab,” Welter said. “Basically everything inside is new.”
Yale is also doing its part to help housing problems in the Fair Haven neighborhood through the Yale President’s Public Service Fellow Program, which is funded by the University.
Rory Neuner ’03 worked with the FHDC over the summer as a Yale president’s fellow.
Neuner said she helped the understaffed organization with multiple tasks, including work on the FHDC brochure.
“I did a lot of fund-raising work,” Neuner said. “Home ownership in Fair Haven is extremely low. It’s really hard.”
By this time next year, the FHDC’s goal is to have five houses renovated. Welter said the goal is an optimistic one, as the process can sometimes be a long path.
“Unfortunately, since you’re using government money, it takes a while to get through the bureaucratic process,” Welter said.
FHDC also recently finished giving a homeownership class, one of several it offers to the public throughout the year. Through this program, potential home buyers learn how to finance, purchase and maintain a house of their own.
The classes, which yield about 25 graduates a class, are held once a week and run in five-week increments. Once they complete the program, graduates receive certificates stating that they have satisfied the city requirements to purchase a first home.
In addition, FHDC offers resources for emergency home repairs.
“Let’s say a family’s furnace blows out in the middle of winter, and the family cannot afford to replace it,” Welter said. “We help.”
But he said FHDC’s overall goal is to improve the neighborhood condition.
“We try to get the residents in the neighborhood to revitalize it, bring it into a strong and vibrant condition, [and] beautify the neighborhood,” Welter said.