On Tuesday morning a group gathered outside the new townhouses at Armstrong Court to celebrate the renaming and rebranding of the Greenwich Housing Authority to “Greenwich Communities.”
Greenwich Housing Authority is not alone in changing its name. The Housing Authority of the City of Bridgeport created a new logo and changed its name to Park City Communities.
“We made some changes in our operation and the look – and we want people to know we’re not like New York and NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority), who takes advantage of the residents, with run down housing and all kinds of problems like lead,” said Sam Romeo, chair of Greenwich Communities board of commissioners. “We came up a with a new name – Greenwich Communities – to reflect a more positive name. It doesn’t have that negative connotation. When you hear ‘housing authority’ people think of things that are low, not well maintained.”
State Senator Alex Kasser noted that the State of Connecticut plays a crucial role in building housing that is affordable in Greenwich.
She shared a message from the CT Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno, who said the Greenwich Housing Authority had been a valued partner on many projects, the most recent being Phase 1 of Armstrong Court.
The project utilized State funds through the Dept of Housing in the amount of $3.4 million, as well as low income housing tax credit and tax exempt bonds administered by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority “CHFA” to keep rents at a reasonable level for working families and individuals.
Once all phases of Armstrong Court are completed, the State will have invested $42 million: $12 million through the Dept of Housing, $16 million in tax exempt bonds and$18 million in through CHFA.
Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo said it was special visiting Armstrong court he’d spent much time when he was growing up.
“Today, when we are renaming and rebranding the housing authority to a nicer name, a beautiful name,” Camillo said. “It is appropriate on the heels of arguably the most successful run the housing authority has had under the leadership of Tony Johnson and Sam Romeo,” he said.
Camillo shared a proclamation noting the number of properties owned and managed by Greenwich’s Housing Authority has grown over the years. Today they manage 13 residential complexes, accommodating senior citizens, families and disabled persons within 857 apartments, as well as Parsonage Cottage, a 40 bedroom facility for seniors. They also administer 348 residences through private landlords under the Federal program known as Section 8, which provides vouchers to absorb the difference between published market rents and the residents’ ability to pay.
Camillo, who declared Sept 8, 2020 as ‘Greenwich Communities Day,’ described the organization as the future of affordable housing in Greenwich, providing people the ability to live in quality, affordable housing, giving residents access to opportunities, excellent schools and the amenities that this beautiful Town of Greenwich has to offer.
Executive Director of Greenwich Communities Anthony Johnson thanked Camillo for his support. He said he was proud of his group’s work.
With a nod to the recently rows of completed townhouses at Armstrong Court, he noted keys had been given to residents on a Friday and everyone was moved in by Sunday.
“They were so happy, and as we go about renovating the remaining units here – there is a lot of money being invested here,” he added, referring to the original buildings from the 1950s, with their flat roofs and tenement style appearance.
Mr. Johnson there were many improvements in a variety of buildings that are not visible from the street.
“Wilbur Peck is an ugly building but they have a new heating system, new roof, new floors, kitchens and new bathrooms. We can’t do anything to the exterior of the buildings like these buildings, but the quality of life of the residents has improved,” he said.
“Our operation is self-sustaining for the most part,” Mr. Johnson added. “We don’t get a lot of money or ongoing funding to operate these buildings. We do it based on the rents. We keep the rents as low as possible.”