SINA and its institutional partners at the construction site in Hartford.

Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (SINA)—in collaboration with institutional partners Trinity CollegeConnecticut’s Children’s Medical Center, and Hartford Hospital—is working to make homeownership a reality for Hartford families. The program, SINA’s Cityscape project, provides housing opportunities for first-time home buyers through the purchase and rehabilitation of boarded-up, tax-delinquent, and abandoned homes in the south-central area of Hartford.

The program, now in phase seven, will create four new homeownership opportunities, at an apartment building at 41 Madison St., a vacant home at 38 Madison St., and a duplex at 45-47 Squire St., all in the Frog Hollow neighborhood. When the renovation work is complete, the properties will be available for purchase by low- and moderate-income first-time home buyers. There will be 11 housing units on the market—four homeownership opportunities and seven rental units. Thus far, the partnership between the four local organizations has led to 83 redeveloped buildings for new home buyers in recent years.

Apartment building at 41 Madison Street.

“Renovating these vacant, blighted properties improves public safety, provides a family with a healthy home in which to build generational wealth, and gives the community a committed neighbor who will take pride in their property. The building at 41 Madison had an irresponsible absentee owner and was an eyesore used by squatters and drug dealers,” said SINA Executive Director Melvyn Colon. “SINA’s purchase of it at a bank auction is the culmination of our work with neighborhood residents and the Safety Alliance for Everyone (SAFE) to address these problems.”

Colon said SINA received $1.1 million from the State of Connecticut Department of Housing to continue the rehab work and an $800,000 construction loan from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. Additional funding came from the City of Hartford, Travelers Foundation, UIL Holdings, Eversource, and Webster Bank. Once the renovations are complete, the buildings will be back on the city’s tax rolls.

Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney said, “Public-private partnerships are vital for moving a community forward. Together with Hartford Hospital and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, SINA has been key in attracting investment that redeveloped 83 buildings, creating nearly 200 homes that provide stability for families and our neighborhood.”

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin

The four soon-to-be renovated properties are on the National Register of Historic Places and will be restored with attention to period details. Colon said the construction would meet Energy Star 3.5 standards, including energy-efficient insulation, windows, heating systems, and EV plugs for electric cars.

Hartford Hospital President Bimal Patel said, “It’s remarkable that our three institutions have banded together in such a strong partnership to improve the quality of life in this community. That includes the health, safety, and economic vitality of the neighborhood, its residents and students, and the well-being of our employees, patients, and visitors. It’s clear that our housing and community economic development efforts through SINA are aligned with neighborhood safety.”

Trinity College students volunteer at the community arts garden.

According to the Hartford Courant, SINA also has worked in recent years to improve several vacant lots. With the help of area residents who serve as a part of SAFE, a neighborhood safety and cleanliness coalition, the volunteers have painted murals, used old, recycled tires for playground equipment, and even created a community art garden. Some of SINA’s volunteers include Trinity College students and staff who helped construct and maintain the art garden, and Trinfo. Café staff provided advice early on about the construction of the garden.

“I am delighted to celebrate a partnership that helps children in south-central Hartford grow, learn, and succeed in a safe, supportive environment,” said James E. Shmerling, Connecticut Children’s president and CEO. “Social determinants—the circumstances in which people live and work—have a powerful influence on health. That’s why Connecticut Children’s has embraced a broad definition of community that includes mitigation efforts and work to ensure safe, healthy housing for all Hartford families.”

Images courtesy of Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (SINA).