If the renderings are accurate, the new mixed-income community about to be
built in Hartford's Sheldon-Charter Oak neighborhood will be stunning, a
huge improvement on what used to be there.
The housing, for which ground will be broken today, is on the site of the
former Dutch Point Colony public housing project, which had become a failed,
drug-infested eyesore before finally being put out of its misery and
The city could not have replaced Dutch Point on its own. It took a $20
million grant from a federal program called Hope VI. This useful program is
set to expire next year, and the Bush administration has indicated it wants
to eliminate Hope VI.
That would be shortsighted, to say the least.
Hope VI was created to remove dysfunctional housing projects that had become
synonymous with urban decay and replace them with attractive neighborhood
housing. It has done the job.
Launched in 1992 following a national study of "severely distressed" housing
projects, Hope VI helped local authorities in 118 cities replace bad housing
with decent places to live.
"It's one of the smartest programs the federal government administers and
I'm eager to see it continue," said U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays of
Bridgeport, who has co-sponsored legislation to reauthorize Hope VI through
We could argue that reauthorization is a matter of fairness. The federal
government was the driving force behind most of these gone-bad urban housing
projects, and the federal government should take the lead in correcting its
But it's more than that. Hope VI is a good investment. Every federal dollar
spent on Hope VI housing has yielded three to four dollars of private
investment and made cities more economically viable. Hope VI has transformed
neighborhoods. Visit the quiet, well-kept neighborhoods where the Charter
Oak Terrace, Bellevue Square, Stowe Village and Rice Heights projects once
stood. Hope VI has caused a night-and-day improvement.
As long as any of the old housing projects remain - and some do - there will
be a need for Hope VI. We support Mr. Shays' bill.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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