From broken windows and boarded up doors to mold, hundreds of families suffered through substandard living conditions in a New Haven public housing complex for years and the city is taking the building down.
In 2016, the conditions at the Church Street South Public Housing complex were so terrible that the city ultimately forced residents to start packing up and leaving for their own safety.
New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said the city helped relocate the 260 families who were still living there. The last family moved out in May.
“The process to help these families move was painstaking and time-consuming, and entirely worth the effort,” Harp said.
On Monday, the city moved forward to demolish the 30 buildings that fill the 13-acre parcel, which sits at the entrance to the city.
Harp said the city discovered the substandard living conditions through an inspection in late 2015.
“We’ve stepped up our ability to inspect. We have stepped all of that up to ensure that this doesn’t happen again in our city,” said Harp.
A major complaint of families NBC Connecticut spoke with in 2016 was mold. The city said there were also structural deficiencies.
Demolition is expected to take about a year.
New Haven’s economic team is working on a plan to redevelop the property into new residential space. The city hopes to build 1,004 units. Thirty-percent, or 300 units, would be subsidized housing to equal the number of units being torn down and the rest would be market rate.
However, city officials said the plan has yet to be funded.
“This is a mile post, but we’re not yet ready to share a complete redevelopment plan for this particular property. We’ve approached HUD a couple of times with concepts,” Mike Piscitelli the deputy administrator of the New Haven Office of Economic Development, said.
The redevelopment could be stalled by pending litigation involving the property owner, Northland Investment Real Estate Company, which is based in Newton, Massachusetts.
Several families who lived in the complex have sued for damages related to the living conditions.
Northland said it’s paying approximately $5 million dollars for the asbestos abatement and demolition of the buildings. The city said the company also helped pay to relocate residents.
“Today is an important milestone. Finding quality housing for 260+ families was a complex challenge and Northland is grateful for the Church Street South families’ patience, understanding, and flexibility throughout the process,” Northland CEO Larry Gottesdiener said in a statement.
The attorney representing the tenants who are suing Northland declined to comment citing pending litigation.