Agency pitches housing plan

Connecticut Outreach West, which operates a housing and case management program on Main Street, is one of 19 projects under consideration for grants to fund this kind of housing, according to state and local officials. Supportive housing is designed to serve homeless or impoverished people with mental illness and drug addictions. It combines affordable housing with case management to help residents manage their illnesses and addictions. Since 2001, the state legislature has approved about $20 million to help build some 370 units of supportive housing. In June, the state Bond Commission approved the second chunk of grants, some $7 million. Last year, the Bond Commission approved $6 million; the remaining $6 million is still to come, state housing officials said. Donna Tanganelli, site supervisor for the local program, confirmed Monday her agency is working with a developer to build the supportive housing units that would benefit not only those with mental illness and addictions, but also low-income families. The project is proposed for the downtown area within the next year. Tanganelli could provide few details, because it remains in the development stages. Any such project would require approvals from the city's land-use boards. Other state housing officials confirmed that the agency is working with nonprofit Alderhouse Residential Communities in Middletown to design and build supportive housing in Danbury. Alderhouse was founded in 1994 to address the growing demand for supportive housing. Connecticut Outreach West would provide the on-site support services. The program provides case management services to about 20 clients with psychiatric disabilities and/or drug dependency who receive federal housing subsidy vouchers. Connecticut Housing Finance Authority officials said they have an application for $5.6 million in bond funds to finance the Danbury project, referred to as Samuels Court. Corporation for Supportive Housing Executive Director Janice Elliott said some 19 projects are under development as part of the state's Supportive Housing Pilots Initiative. The bond funds are made available on a first-come, first-served basis. CHFA coordinates how the funds are dispersed, she said. The supportive housing initiative, which combines government grants with corporate financing, was started in the mid-1990s. Between 1996 and 1998, the state provided some $17 million, combined with another $30 million from the private sector, for nine separate projects in Stamford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Middletown, Willimantic and Hartford. All of those programs were evaluated for their impact on the tenants and neighborhoods, Elliott said. The results were tenants' health and lifestyles improved, she said, and neighborhood property values increased. All in all, Elliott said, supportive housing proved that it was more cost-effective than the traditional revolving door of social and medical care for the state's most vulnerable populations. In the Danbury region, the city and the nonprofit community have provided some limited supportive housing, but face an increasing demand. "The funding for housing in general, and supportive housing specifically, is constantly a struggle because the need is so much more than the resources available,'' Elliott said.

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