Years ago, in the 1970's, your correspondent moved our family to Ashley Street in the Sigourney Square area of Asylum Hill. At that time, the effects of the riots of the late 60's had left the area somewhat forlorn with empty houses up and down the street.
So, with prices low and help from a variety of alphabet soup agencies, a wave of working class/middle class families moved in. Most because these were the only homes people like us could afford, but also because the insurance companies and the agencies were able to paint a positive picture. For about ten years or so, it seemed to work. Values went up, and the neighbors worked together well. Then the do-gooders started to whine about displacement and a wave of halfway houses and other social services flooded the area. That was the end of that.
Years later after Hill Housing, AHOP and AHI all went away, the area was again somewhat in limbo, again with empty houses. One "investor" owned a half dozen ill maintained buildings in the area, sold them to Hill Housing, then Hill Housing went out of business.
Jump ahead a few years to the establishment of NINA (Northside Institute Neighborhood Alliance).
NINA operates somewhat differently than the alphabet soup agencies of the past. It mainly concentrates on buying houses, fixing them up, and selling them to stable families of all types and stripes. Last year, they turned over six properties.
Now, house by house, the old Sigourney Square neighborhood is regaining its traditional role as a solid neighborhood with a growing core of homeowners who care about their investment and are real assets to Asylum Hill and the city. Neighbors who have hung in through thick and thin deserve special recognition for putting up with all the swings of fortune.
This last weekend showed what a combination of ideas, organization and neighbors can do. A program of planting was planned last fall and came together last Saturday. Landscapers donated time. NINA organized everything, the Hartford paid the bill, and now people are stopping to photograph the outcome. Sometimes, however seldomly, things go as planned.