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    Tuesday, April 16, 2024

    New Norwich community development director arrives in time to review grant requests

    New Norwich Community Development Director Craig Kleman, pictured Friday, March 1, 2024, started this work this week, as his department begins reviewing more than $1.3 million in community development block grant applications (Claire Bessette/The Day)
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    Norwich ― Craig Kleman did not have time to ease into his new position as community development director this week.

    That’s because he started his new job as the agency began reviewing $1.3 million in grant requests for an anticipated $806,000 in federal funding.

    Kleman, 67, currently living in Winsted, started work Monday in the office which oversees the city’s annual community development block grant program, residential lead abatement projects and residential property rehabilitation loans. The program receives its grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    Kleman has spent the past seven years at HUD’s office in Hartford as a senior community planning and development representative. He said he reviewed HUD grants for the state and several municipalities, not including Norwich. He did review programs at the Thames River Community Place, a transitional housing facility for families in Norwich.

    Kleman said that gave him some familiarity with Norwich, and when he saw the Norwich position posted, he decided to apply.

    “I like the area,” Kleman said.

    He is living in a local hotel while searching for a home in the region, rather than commuting daily from Winsted.

    Kleman met Thursday with the Community Development Advisory Committee, which began reviewing the CDBG grant applications.

    The city expects to receive $806,000 in its annual federal CDBG grant for the federal fiscal year beginning in September. Several human services agencies submitted requests totaling $383,000 for programs addressing housing, job training, family support, food assistance and immigrant support services.

    Norwich Human Services requested $95,000 for its Norwich Works job training program and $75,000 for housing assistance. Thames Valley Council for Community Action requested $30,000 for homelessness prevention, and United Way asked for $45,000 to support the Gemma Moran United Way/Labor Food Center. The food center helps stock food pantries and soup kitchens in Norwich and the region.

    In the non-services category, Norwich Housing Authority requested $200,000 for renovations at the Rosewood Manor public housing complex, and the Norwich Public Works Department requested $386,665 for new sidewalks in Taftville.

    The community development’s property rehabilitation program requested $250,000 to continue the program that provides forgivable loans to property owners for residential rehabilitation projects.


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