NORWALK, CT - Community leaders and project partners joined to celebrate the start of construction on Gini’s House, an affordable supportive housing development in Norwalk that will bring 18 quality one-and two-bedroom apartments to the Norwalk community.
The $7.2 million project is a substantial rehabilitation of a vacant four-story building previously used as a skilled nursing facility. The building will be completely redesigned to incorporate a new interior layout including an elevator, all new mechanical and electrical systems, roof replacement, new windows and exterior siding.
Once construction is complete in spring of 2014, Gini’s House will consist of 17 two-bedroom and 1 one-bedroom residential units. Amenities include central air conditioning, refrigerators, ranges, furnished units, security cameras, security staffing, an exercise room and a community room with computers and Internet access.
The property will also house on-site case management offices and support services for the residents that include education, job training and employment assistance. Additional support services will be provided to residents with special needs who are formerly homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
“Safe and affordable housing for our workforce, the elderly, and our most vulnerable individuals and families is crucial to a healthy state economy and specifically to a diverse, stable workforce,” said Connecticut Commissioner of Housing Evonne M. Klein. “And when combined with the on-site services that are integral to Gini’s House, this project promises to provide an example of what truly supportive housing looks like.”
New Neighborhoods, Inc. (NNI), a Stamford-based nonprofit developer, is general co-partner and property manager for the project. Liberation Programs, a Norwalk-based behavioral health organization, is also a general partner and will be the service provider for the project. Enterprise Builders is the general contractor.
“Gini’s House will help provide affordable housing and critical support services for people with some of the greatest needs in our community,” said Ross Burkhardt, president and CEO of New Neighborhoods Inc. “We are so grateful for the support from our partners and the community in making this project a reality.”
“This project is an important part of a larger revitalization effort in Norwalk designed to create more affordable housing opportunities,” said State Senator Bob Duff, who also attended the ceremony along with Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia and State Representatives Chris Perone and Gail Lavielle. “We are appreciative to all the partners for their commitment to our community and willingness to help people have a place they can call home.”
UnitedHealthcare, through a partnership with Enterprise Community Investment, Inc. (Enterprise) has committed to provide $5.2 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity for the project. The investment brings together one of the nation’s top health and well-being companies and a leader in the affordable housing and community-development industry to provide innovative financing solutions for community development projects. UnitedHealthcare, through its Affordable Housing Investment Program, has provided more than $100 million in financing for community development projects throughout the United States, $54 million of which is in partnership with Enterprise.
“Gini’s House will create new opportunities, hope and a foundation of support for the families who will make this their home,” said Jim Bedard, CFO and COO of UnitedHealthcare’s Northeast Region, which employs more than 4,000 people in Connecticut. “We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the many public and private organizations in developing this affordable-housing project for the people of Norwalk.”
“Enterprise is proud to partner with UnitedHealthcare to provide critical Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity that will turn this formerly abandoned property into Gini’s House,” said Charlie Werhane, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Investment. “For more than 30 years, Enterprise has been transforming underserved neighborhoods into thriving communities while providing low- and moderate-income families access to decent, affordable homes and the opportunity for success.”
Additional funding partners include the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), which is providing a $2 million loan; Liberation Programs, which is contributing $343,000 in private support; the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through a $49,000 housing grant; and GE Capital, which is providing funds to purchase all of the appliances for the project.
Alan Mathis, president and CEO of Liberation Programs said, “Today we move a giant step closer to our dream of creating Gini’s House and honor all those who have been part of our efforts to expand housing opportunities and provide valuable resources to help lift families out of poverty. This is an exciting day and we are so thankful to all who are involved in this project.”
The development is named Gini’s House for Virginia Bantle, wife of Lou Bantle who passed away two years ago. His investment towards the project included the purchase of the building at 4 Elmcrest Terrace in Norwalk as well as making a sizable contribution, which enabled the agency to begin the project groundwork. Lou Bantle, along with his wife Gini, were the first to receive Liberation Programs’ Spirit of Hope Award for their extraordinary devotion and understanding of the disease of addiction and the possibility of recovery. Mr. Bantle’s staunch support of recovery services inspired the agency to allocate proceeds from the yearly benefit dinner towards the creation of Gini’s House.