Erin Fletcher had been renting nearby and was employed at a local nonprofit when she saw a house being renovated by Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance in the Asylum Hill neighborhood. A friend encouraged her to inquire about it, and now it is hers.
"While I like being close to the action and walking to events downtown, the best part is the community. I really enjoy my neighbors, cooking, and having guests," said Fletcher. "I saw this house and loved it, so instead of complaining about issues in Hartford I decided to be part of the change."
Since 2003, the Community Development Corporation (CDC), and Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (NINA) has worked in the Asylum Hill neighborhood to rehabilitate properties, helping revitalize the community for Hartford residents. NINA and Hartford's two other CDCs, Mutual Housing Association of Greater Hartford, and Sheldon Oak Central provide vital access to high quality, affordable housing that not only improves the lives of residents but stabilizes neighborhoods and attracts businesses. Hartford's CDC's benefit from operating support and organizational development services provided by the Hartford Neighborhood Development Support Collaborative (HNDSC) administered by LISC Hartford.
In an effort to continue and broaden this work, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving's board of directors has approved a two-year, $440,000 grant to LISC Hartford to continue the Hartford Neighborhood Development Support Collaborative's mission.
By providing affordable housing options, CDCs help ensure that residents have funds available to pay for other living expenses such as food, utilities, health care and set aside some of their income for long-term investments like education and business. By spending less on rent and mortgage payments, people can purchase more goods and services within their communities which helps to create a more thriving local economy. In short, providing families with quality, affordable housing changes people's lives and brings new life to neighborhoods that have faced decades of decline and neglect.
"NINA's revitalization work in Asylum Hill would not be possible without the operating and development support provided by HNDSC and LISC," said Ken Johnson, executive director of NINA. "Their financial support has been the driver which has enabled NINA to assemble the resources necessary to convert blighted homes into affordable homeownership and to stabilize streets across the neighborhood."
Created 20 years ago, the Hartford Neighborhood Development Support Collaborative brings funders together to support affordable housing development in a more cohesive way. The collaborative has allowed smaller funders to invest and engage in this work when they wouldn't otherwise have the capacity. Hartford LISC serves as the program manager for HNDSC due to its expertise in affordable housing development and ability to leverage millions of dollars in funding sources for CDCs.
Operating support is critical to strengthen the work of the CDCs as development projects take many years and fees don't come until the end of the project. Stable operating support allows CDCs to keep a stable pipeline of development deals in motion and avoid swings in their finances. Operating support can also strengthen capacity of CDCs so that they are more competitive for financing.
"Creating more access to safe, quality affordable housing allows working families to plan for their future and create the type of self-sufficiency that allows families to thrive," said Andrea Pereira, executive director of LISC for both Hartford and Connecticut Statewide programs. "The Hartford Foundation's award of operating support will allow HNDSC to ensure that these strong community development organizations continue to serve the community for the long term."
In addition to providing access to funding, LISC's staff is highly qualified in housing development and community planning, including financing, technical assistance, management and public policy that greatly benefits Hartford's community development corporations. The HNDSC also encourages smaller funders to engage in a comprehensive strategy for neighborhood development.
"Access to quality, affordable housing is an essential component to creating vibrant communities," said Hartford Foundation Community Investments officer Erika Frank. "Effective community development requires strong local organizations and the Hartford Neighborhood Development Support Collaborative has been an effective tool in building an infrastructure of financial and technical resources for community development."
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $680 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.