NORWALK, Conn. – A development that has been proposed to replace the aging Washington Village housing project is one of six finalists for a Choice Neighborhoods grant from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Trinity Financial’s proposal, which was developed in conjunction with Norwalk Housing Authority, was one of 44 applicants for a $30 million grant, Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Tim Sheehan said. The authority was notified in mid-March that the proposal is one of six finalists. However, being named a finalist is not a guarantee of getting a grant, Sheehan said.
HUD does not know yet how much money will be allotted for Choice Neighborhoods, Sheehan indicated. “The determination is if they can deal with what they’ve got or if they have to eliminate projects,” he said. He did not know how much longer the process would take.
In 2010, Boston was one of five cities to split $122 million. In 2011, Chicago won a $30.5 million grant.
“I am very excited, actually,” he said. “I am very happy that we have gotten this far. I think I have previously said the Choice Neighborhoods implementation grant was going to be a challenging grant to get because of the highly competitive nature of it, and typically the awards have been made to much bigger cities than Norwalk.”
Federal officials are scheduled to do a site visit Thursday, Sheehan said.
The authority has scheduled a community meeting from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at the South Norwalk Community Center, SoNoCC Deputy Director Pat Ferrandino said.
Sheehan would not say who the other five finalists are in the competition for the Choice Neighborhoods grant. But they are “much larger” cities, he said. In past years, cities have included Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, Tampa, San Francisco and Seattle.
HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods program seeks to replace distressed public and assisted housing with high-quality mixed-income housing, improve educational outcomes for youth and “create the conditions necessary for public and private reinvestment in distressed neighborhoods to offer the kinds of amenities and assets, including safety, good schools, and commercial activity, that are important to families’ choices about their community,” according to the HUD website.
The Washington Village project is described as the oldest public housing project in Connecticut. Mayor Harry Rilling said recently that it may be the oldest housing project in the country.
The city is expected to make a major investment in infrastructure if the Washington Village reconstruction project goes forward, as the intersection of Day and Raymond Streets will need to be raised due to flooding concerns.