Himes, HUD Secretary Donovan Address Livability Issues in Connecticut
STAMFORD, CT— Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) last week joined U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia in a tour of the future Westwood Apartments (the former Vidal Court Apartments), a 95-unit mixed-use complex in development by Charter Oak Communities (formerly Stamford Housing Authority).
This visit was followed by a forum featuring elected officials and representatives from housing authorities, developers, and community groups, where they discussed quality of life and cost of living challenges in Southwest Connecticut. This forum continued Himes’ work to address these types of issues. He held a similarly successful event in June with Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon on sustainable development issues.
“The people of Connecticut suffer under the highest costs of living in the country, a situation made worse by overburdened roads and a critical lack of affordable housing,” said Himes. “This crisis will only be solved through partnerships between the public, private, and non-profit sectors, Secretary Donovan’s visit her today helps advance that effort.”
Better regional planning and adaptation of new models of mixed-use development were focal points of the wide-ranging conversation moderated by Secretary Donovan and Congressman Himes. Several participants brought up the severe shortage in Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, the most flexible and widely used form of rental subsidies funded by HUD, and the need to build better flexibility and portability into the program. The group also discussed the importance of collaboration across cities and towns to pursue federal funding, streamline the processes to ensure that projects move more quickly, and to create incentives to drive private capital and investment.
"A region can't be economically competitive without decent, affordably priced homes near good jobs and schools," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "It was impressive to see the cooperation and progress made on affordable housing in Stamford under the leadership of Congressman Himes."
Building upon many of the points raised by forum attendees, Secretary Donovan highlighted his new Choice Neighborhoods initiative, designed to transform distressed neighborhoods and public and assisted projects into viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhoods by linking housing improvements with appropriate services, schools, public assets, transportation, and access to jobs.
He additionally emphasized the importance of the recently announced $9,322,756 million in new funding Connecticut will receive under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, providing targeted emergency assistance to help local communities in Connecticut acquire, redevelop or demolish foreclosed properties. These federal investments follow on the heels of the greater than $48 million in federal Recovery Act funds invested by HUD in the Fourth District alone.
“By his coming to Stamford, HUD Secretary Donovan reaffirmed his commitment to Stamford as a model city for housing, sustainability, and transportation. We look forward to continuing to work with him and HUD in pursuing innovative solutions for livability for all of Stamford,” said Mayor Michael Pavia.
In June, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan announced that HUD is launching a $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program, the first of its kind designed to create stronger, more sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local innovation, and building a clean energy economy. These regional planning efforts will address the interdependent challenges of economic competitiveness and revitalization; energy use and climate change; and public health and environmental impacts.