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Construction on new affordable housing underway

Construction crews were already hard at work, but state and town officials celebrated the groundbreaking of Winter Grove, a Section 202 housing project on Darling Street Wednesday, Aug. 28.

The three-story, 40-unit development by NeighborWorks New Horizon will provide affordable housing to the senior citizen population. After eight years of funding struggles, the project is finally underway with funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Connecticut Department of Housing, and the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority.

Gloribell Lopez, director of operations for NeighborWorks, said getting the financing was a struggle to begin with, and that difficulty was compounded when the recession hit. Lopez said the location for the building is ideal because of its proximity to the town center and Calendar House.

“Every town needs more affordable housing,” Lopez said. “But especially our seniors, and Southington has a high population of seniors, and we thought this would be a perfect location to provide affordable housing.”

Tenants at Winter Grove will pay no more than 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities.

The project has a timetable of about 12 months to complete, and the tenant selection process will likely start about six months before completion.

Ed Seibert, board president for NeighborWorks, said he has been working in affordable housing for 25 years and is happy to see construction underway.

“Groundbreakings are the physical manifestation of all the work that’s gone on before,” Seibert said. “It’s gratifying for me to see the work being done and the progress made.”

Winter Grove is one of just two Section 202 projects to be completed. Section 202 of HUD provides funding to construction to low-income senior citizens. The apartment building will include a laundry area, lounges, craft room, community room, tenant storage, and parking for 50 vehicles.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal was at the site to welcome the project, which he supported along with U.S. Rep. John Larson.

“We need to fight for these programs in a time of fiscal austerity,” Blumenthal said.

Larson could not personally attend, but his aide, Lisa Perrone, was there to speak on his behalf. She said programs that enable affordable housing construction are vital to the community, since the need is definitely there.

“One of the toughest issues we have is people with housing – it’s just not there,” Perrone said.

Seila Mosquera, executive director of NeighborWorks, said the population of citizens 65 years and older is projected to increase 12 percent in 2015. She said Southington’s population alone of citizens 60 and older is 24 percent.

“As the population ages, we must be ready to provide safe, comfortable homes,” Mosquera said.

Southington Director of Economic Development Louis Perillo and Town Councilor Cheryl Lounsbury are both pleased to continue adding housing in town. Lounsbury said there is currently a waiting list of more than 200 seniors for housing.

“This will help make their dream a success,” Lounsbury said.

Perillo said Southington is leading the state in housing development, and expressed his appreciation for NeighborWorks to follow through with the project despite the long timeline.

“This project took many years,” Perillo said. “There was so much happening throughout the town.”



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