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Hosuign Authority seeks funding to upgrade Williams Park Apartments

August 3, 2018 GMT

New London — Local public housing officials have long agreed that deferred maintenance and a lack of funds for improvements were contributing factors in the demise of Thames River Apartments, the troubled low-income high-rises on Crystal Avenue that now stand empty.

The New London Housing Authority is moving to avoid a repeat of that saga at its remaining federally subsidized property, the 99-unit Williams Park Apartments at 127 Hempstead St.

Housing Authority management, under the direction of new Executive Director Kolisha Fiore and management by Imagineers LLC, has taken the initial steps in applying for a switch in the way the complex is funded.

Residents at the complex, elderly and disabled, learned last month that the Housing Authority was intending to apply for a Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) conversion, a voluntary program through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Exploration of the program, Fiore said, is an attempt to secure an infusion of money to handle major capital improvements and renovations as they come up and raise the quality of life for residents.

RAD Conversion is a relatively new program that HUD describes as a way to access more stable funding by applying for either Section 8 project-based vouchers, or Section 8 project-based rental assistance. The program allows the Housing Authority to borrow money and use low-income housing tax credits and other forms of financing.

HUD spokeswoman Rhonda Siciliano said aging public housing stock is a problem across the country and there is a 4.2 million in state funding for 202 Colman St. Plans for renovations have not yet been announced.

To date, HUD reports that RAD has preserved 88,000 affordable-housing units, “stimulating $55 billion in private capital to make critical repairs and needed improvements to distressed public housing units,” Siciliano said in an email.

There have been 160 RAD conversions in Connecticut, 52 in Massachusetts and 11 in Rhode Island, she said.

g.smith@theday.com