NORWALK, Conn. -- The Washington Village public housing complex will be revitalized thanks to a $30 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant.
Construction on the project's first phase is expected to begin in October and be completed in spring 2016.
The work will include making every unit storm-resilient, an important issue following the flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, said Norwalk Housing Authority Deputy Director Candace Mayer.
Washington Village is one of the oldest public housing complexes in the state, and the $30 million grant is the largest grant Norwalk has ever received.
The housing complex's improvements are part of renewed investment in the area that will have a positive impact on the schools, she said.
"Every student in this neighborhood, from cradle through college, will have a high quality educational experience that will be life-changing," Mayer said.
Norwalk Mayor Harry Riling said, "I'm so excited, these people that live here are now going to have their quality of life improved exponentially.
"They deserve to have us working hard on their behalf to provide the best housing we can possibly provide."
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said the $30 million was a great beginning to revitalizing the neighborhood.
"It will enable us to rejuvenate, remodel, renovate these historic and storied buildings, but the task of creating a community with mixed income people who have a common commitment to this community is still very much ahead.
"It will take the combined efforts of schools, public officials and the community," he said.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said, "This is an investment in the people, as much as it is an investment in infrastructure."
He said the improvements will bring improved housing and utilities, better schools, safer streets, after-school programs and a larger sense of community.
"People's lives look entirely different when Washington Village is redone. This is a cooperative effort between our federal, state and local governments and our community agencies that really is going to pay off," Murphy said.
The implementation grant is part of HUD's "Choice Neighborhoods Initiative."
In 2011 the initiative provided the Norwalk Housing Authority with a $250,000 planning grant for neighborhood improvements.
"When it comes to community development, not only do we want families to have access to quality affordable housing, but we want to make sure the housing succeeds by complementing it with other critical assets," said Harriet Tregoning, director of HUD's Office of Economic Resilience.
"We are transforming a community," said U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th District).
"This grant is going to allow us to build the next generation of communities. Not of affordable housing, off communities, where, individuals have the opportunity to work near where they live, where schools are good, where there's good public safety," he said.
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