Daniel Zhao

New Haven will receive $3.9 million in federal funds to improve the city’s public housing this year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced last week.

The funds — which are administered to housing authorities across nationwide — are awarded annually as part of HUD’s capital funds program and can be used to build, repair and renovate affordable housing. Housing authorities in Connecticut as a whole were awarded a $36.4 million slice of the total $2.7 billion awarded nationally.

Rhonda Siciliano, who is the spokesperson for the New England HUD region, said that allocations tend to fluctuate year-to-year and that the formula for funding allocations was related to the number of occupied low-income public housing units in a municipality and how old those units are, among other factors.

Siciliano said that housing authorities tend to use the funds for “major capital needs” and large-scale repairs. A press release from HUD notes that these repairs can sometimes include replacing roofs, making energy-efficient upgrades, or replacing old plumbing and electrical systems, which often require the expertise of roofing contractors and other specialized professionals.

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Siciliano noted, however, that because New England’s housing stock is among the oldest in the country, the capital funds that are available for repairs do not keep up with need.

“Our housing stock gets older every year, and so the amount of funding that’s needed to keep the housing stock decent, safe and sanitary has grown,” she said. Siciliano noted that since 2011, HUD has moved towards encouraging rental assistance demonstration programs, which allow municipalities to tap into private sources of income in order to make repairs.

New Haven’s award has decreased from the $4.7 million it received last year. When asked about the decrease in New Haven’s funding, Siciliano wrote in an email to the News that the city had shifted 70 affordable units to one such rental assistance demonstration program. Though these units are still HUD supported, she wrote, they are not funded through the capital program.

HUD plans to release the funds to the housing authority by late March.

Talia Soglin | talia.soglin@yale.edu