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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Authority again seeks HOPE funding

By Elizabeth Benton
Register Staff
NEW HAVEN
— Undeterred by four unsuccessful attempts, the Housing Authority of New Haven again is seeking HOPE VI federal funding for redevelopment of the Rockview Circle housing project.
Applications are due to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development this month, and the Housing Authority is meeting with West Rock public housing residents to gather support for the application.
Tuesday night the Housing Authority and consultants from Tise Design Associates met with a few former Rockview residents to review the plans, which include a mix of 145 rental and 20 homeownership units.
The plan also calls for an off-site mixed-use development on Wilmot Road for seniors, and redevelopment of the former Sheffield Manor site on Division Street.
The project is expected to cost about $170 million, and include 216 units.
“Every building has a front yard, a sidewalk. It’s very traditional. There is rear room for private back yards,” said Tim Smith of Tise. “It will restore a neighborhood feeling to Rockview.”
No one needed to sell Deborah Hill and Terese Stevenson on the plans.
The two women moved to Westville Manor in 2001 to make way for Rockview’s demolition, and hope one day to return to a revitalized Rockview.
“This is the moment I’ve been waiting for all these years, to go back there,” said Hill. “I’ve been to all the meetings. ... I was really sad when they did Quinnipiac (Terrace) before Rockview.”
She’s hoping to purchase one of the homeownership units. “I’m raising my granddaughter. If anything happened to me, I want to make sure she has her own home so she doesn’t have to worry about where she lives. I want a home up there. It’s beautiful country,” she said.
Stevenson said she hasn’t been disappointed by the HOPE VI rejections.
“I’m glad it’s moving on. Hopefully, they will break ground. I want to move back in. Definitely,” she said.
While West Rock’s applications have not fared well, the Housing Authority received $45 million in HOPE VI grants to revitalize Elm Haven in 1994 and $20 million for Quinnipiac Terrance in 2002.
“The Housing Authority has a fair amount of money,” said Robert Solomon, chairman of the Housing Authority’s board of commissioners. But “we still have only one-third of what is needed,” he said recently. Nevertheless, Solomon said, “something will happen in West Rock with or without HOPE VI.”
While the authority has previously sought HOPE VI funds for both Rockview and Brookside, this year’s application focuses solely on Rockview, which has already been demolished, a requirement for funding. Brookside is standing but vacant.
Last year, $88.9 million in grants was awarded to five housing authorities out of a pool of 29 applicants. Grants went to Boston, Washington, D.C., Phoenix, New Orleans and Fayetteville, N.C. There is $97.6 million available this year, but HUD is barred from releasing information on applications, according to HUD spokeswoman Kristine Foye.

Elizabeth Benton can be reached at 789-5714 or ebenton@nhregister.com.

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