Housing “affordable to many” coming to New London
ew London ― A ceremony Tuesday marked the groundbreaking for the site of a new 28 unit mixed-income apartment building praised by many of the speakers as setting the precedent for future equitable housing.
Julie Savin, CEO and president of Eastern Connecticut Housing Opportunities, Inc., said the $11.7 million building at 433 Bayonet St. is the first of a two-phased rental development that will ultimately provide 64 units.
The 28 units will consist of one, two, and three-bedroom apartments. Nine will be leased at market-rate rents while the rest is a mix of varying rents based on income. Six units will be set aside for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism.
ECHO is a nonprofit housing development organization serving the eastern Connecticut region since 1989. Savin said what sets it apart is that it provides “housing that is affordable to many” instead of what is commonly described as “affordable housing.”
She described low-income housing initiatives as “a part of this country’s past.”
“Regardless of how much money you make, you should have choice and housing that is affordable to you,” Savin said. “While the upper income brackets obviously naturally have housing choice, we choose to focus our attention on housing which the market does not naturally provide.”
The ceremony Tuesday warranted a visit from private investors as well local and state community leaders including U.S. Congressman Joe Courtney, state Rep. Anthony Nolan, Mayor Michael Passero and Connecticut Department of Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno.
Courtney said it is important to make sure to have a healthy mix of people to make local economies grow.
Passero said it was never guaranteed to be here today and referenced how a similar “great project” at Edgerton, the former elementary school on Coleman Street, never made it to the finish line. He said he loved the tag line, “housing affordable for all.”
Mosquera-Bruno said there are 7,500 housing units in different stages of construction across the state amounting to about $600 million in state resources and leveraging $3.3 billion in private investors.
She said this particular development has more than $4 million in low-income tax credits and $1.6 million that DOH administered from the federal Department of Urban Development’s Housing Trust Fund program.
The incentives work by helping developers make up for providing cheaper rents. Developers sell tax credits to investors who benefit from a reduction in tax liability.The Housing Trust Fund program provides grants to states to produce and preserve affordable housing for extremely low- and very low-income households.
Alanna C. Kabel, HUD’s community planning and development director in Hartford, said this development is the first to received funds from the Housing Trust Fund program in New London.
The development’s multiple partners include the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, DOH, National Developmental Council, Liberty Bank, Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston and Capital for Change.
Savin said it took four years to get to this point.
“The hardest part is the financing phase,” she said, adding it takes years to collect funding for a development like this compared to market rate developments.
The 28 units of the first phase are expected to be completed in September 2023. The 36 units of the second phase are expected to commence in 2024.