A public housing project in Hartford is on hold, but soon could be back on track. The duplexes that are part of the project have sat empty for months and their yards are a mess. Now, nearby residents are concerned the vacant structures are targets for criminals and there are questions about whether contractors have been paid for their work.
The project is part of the Stowe Village public housing complex in Hartford's north end. Thirteen duplexes that line part of Theodore Napper Lane have been nearly finished inside for about a year. However, on the outside, their yards are overgrown and driveways are missing.
"It's going to bring in mice and stuff like that," said Luz Calderon, who lives up the street from the vacant duplexes. "Right now, they got a security guard keeping an eye on them because people will break into them."
The project began back in October 2008. The Hartford Housing Authority says it stalled about six months ago when federal money ran out due to cost overruns. "Because of the funding issue, they (the contractors) had no choice but to pull off temporarily until we receive another block of money," said David Siniscalchi, the Director of Capitol Improvements for the housing authority.
The contractors have been paid for about 90 percent of the work already done, said Siniscalchi. They'll receive the rest of the money once another federal grant is approved by Housing and Urban Development, he said. That is expected to come soon and work should resume within a month and take six months to finish, he said.
"We do have a security company that is working for the housing authority to ensure that our investment is protected and we have met with residents that are neighbors that are in close proximity to the development that we are in the process of completing the project," said Siniscalchi.
Nearby residents hope the work wraps up soon.
"There's a lot of people out there waiting on the waiting list for housing and you know they're not getting anywhere. There's a lot of people that need homes right now," said Calderon.
Once the project is finished, the housing authority plans to put the homes up for rent, like it's done with other duplexes on the same street.