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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hales Court Expansion Back on Track Thanks to U.S. Funding

Plans to expand the Westport Housing Authority’s Hales Court low-income housing development are back on track thanks to a $34 million award Friday by the U.S. Treasury Department.WestportNow.com Image
One of the Hales Court units that are part of the $24 million renovation and expansion project. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Plans for building 78 new housing units, doubling its current size, had been put on hold because the federal and state funding arrangements became a victim of the poor economy. Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved the plans in December. (See WestportNow Dec. 19, 2008)

A total of $486 million was released Friday to Connecticut and 10 other states and the Virgin Islands as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“This award comes at a critical time for Connecticut’s residents,” said Timothy Bannon, president and executive director of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA), which will distribute the funds.

“As we struggle with the impact of the national economy, we need jobs and we need affordable housing. These funds provide both,”

The Westport project is the biggest of four in the state that will benefit from the U.S. grant. The others are in Manchester, Norwich, and Hamden.

“Most of these projects are well along in terms of design and zoning approval,” Bannon said. “They were ready to go but were halted by the crisis in the economy. We will see construction starting at these projects in the next several months.”

“Nothing is more damaging to our communities than people losing their homes,” said Congressman Jim Himes. “Housing was at the heart of this crisis, and I’m gratified we’re taking tangible steps toward making affordable housing available while creating jobs.”

The $34 million award is being given instead of housing tax credits. CHFA is the administrator of the federal low-income housing tax credit program.

Typically developments receiving low-income housing tax credits would sell the credits to other businesses, which can then use them as a credit against their tax obligations.

But the attractiveness of the credits dropped as the recession deepened and they were returned to CHFA.

Under the recovery act, state housing agencies can receive funding to start or complete low-income housing developments instead of housing tax credits if they meet specific requirements.

The new Hales Court will consist of one-, two-, and three-bedroom units serving families at or below 60 percent of area median income ($70,680) for a family of four.

Twenty-five percent of the total units will be reserved for senior citizens (62 and older). The project will also include a 2,000-square foot community center. Development costs are anticipated to be $24 million.

Built in 1950, Hales Court consists of 40 ranch-style detached homes. Thirty are two-bedroom homes and 10 are three-bedroom homes.

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Posted 07/11/09 at 04:30 AM  Permalink



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