Trash Covering New Haven Public Housing Complex Angers Residents

At first glance, Farnam Courts, a public housing complex in New Haven, looks abandoned, but people do live there, despite garbage strewn around the property. 

As children play in the complex playground, they're careful to avoid the broken glass sprinkled throughout.

"That is what they are doing, playing in the trash," Farnam Courts resident Michelle said.

People said the trash has been a problem since 2015, when the Elm City Communities/New Haven Housing Authority - which runs the subsidized complex - started boarding up units and relocating people to new housing as they plan to build a new Farnam Courts.

"I done seen weed baggies. I done seen needles before. Broken glass," said New Haven resident Dayshawna, whose family lives in the complex. 

Those still waiting to be moved to temporary housing said staff members rarely clean anymore and it can get worse than its current state.

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters caught up with some Elm City Communities staffers hauling away furniture, but leaving the trash. The staffers wouldn’t explain why they hadn’t been cleaning, but advised getting an answer from the office located at the complex.

An Elm City Communities employee inside the office onsite said they do clean, but told NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters to visit their main office for more explanation.

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters reached out to the executive offices of the Elm City Communities/New Haven Housing Authority and they responded in an email:

"The grounds at Farnam Courts are maintained on a daily basis Monday through Friday," the statement says.

But the piles of garbage scattered about told a different story, as did residents. 

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters sent photos of the mounting garbage collecting about the grounds to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which funds the subsidized housing at Farnam Courts at 177 Franklin Street.

An HUD spokeswoman responded within minutes and results were seen less than 24 hours later. 

"We do not want our residents to be subjected to living in those conditions," Rhonda Siciliano said. "That is why we took immediate action upon learning of the condition out there. To work with the housing authority to ensure that it was addressed."

Siciliano said a crew worked overtime into the night to clean up the mess.

However, when the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters visited the property after it had been cleaned, a young man was observed breaking a bottle and leaving the glass on the ground near the playground.

"Obviously not everyone thinks of home in the same way," Siciliano said. "We have maintenance staff there to ensure that properties are kept clean and safe for the residents there."

However, some residents of Farnam Courts do their own cleaning.

"We see trash, we are going to pick up," said a Farnam Courts resident, Larry. "We don't want to just leave it there.”

We found Larry, his 12-year-old son and 16-year old neighbor, cleaning the area in front of their home before Elm City Communities finally got around to it.

Siciliano said she will continue to follow up and ensure that this community is cleaned regularly. She added that if a person lives in subsidized housing and their local Housing Authority isn't keeping the property clean, they can reach out to HUD directly on their website.

The Elm City Communities/New Haven Housing Authority said it’s unclear when the remaining residents at the old Farnam Courts will be moved to interim housing.

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp and officials with Elm City Communities had a ground breaking ceremony on Wednesday at the new Farnam Courts.

Officials with the agency said residents of the old Farnam Courts will have an option to move to the newly built complex once it is completed, or they can use housing vouchers to live in other places.

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