WATERBURY – Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Hartford was notified in March that a 20-unit project for affordable supportive housing was selected from among 14 proposals by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority to proceed with development.
The project, called Francis Xavier Plaza Inc. and located at the site of the former St. Francis Xavier School on Baldwin Street, also received approval from the state’s Interagency Committee on Supportive Housing.
"We were one of six proposals out of 14 that received a letter to proceed in a highly competitive process," said Rose Alma Senatore, director of charities for the Archdiocese of Hartford. "It was very, very competitive; and to be chosen as one of 14 projects is highly complimentary to the work that was done."
The supportive housing project will provide individuals and families who either are homeless or expect to be homeless with permanent homes. Eligible residents can receive rental assistance; or, if they are working, pay up to 30 percent of their income for rent.
The $7-million project will receive $5.8 million through the Committee on Supportive Housing and $1 million from the Waterbury Development Authority.
"One positive of the project is a one-stop-shopping funding component that includes preconstruction, construction and rental assistance vouchers for the 20 units," said Ms. Senatore, "as well as supportive service contracts provided by Catholic Charities."
When it opens, Francis Xavier Plaza will include nine 625-square-foot one-bedroom single units; three 1,000-square-foot two-bedroom units, and eight three-bedroom units. Construction on the project, which will maintain the building’s historic façade from the 1960s, is expected to begin later this year with completion planned for 2013.
"It’s a beautiful building and campus," said Ms. Senatore, "and we’re very grateful to Father [Paul] Pace and the parishioners of St. Francis Xavier Parish for being advocates for people who have no home.
"This is something wonderful for Waterbury," she said, noting that the project will bring life back to the parish and neighborhood by using a now vacant building.
St. Francis Xavier Parish was founded in 1896 and grew to as many as 4,000 families, but has since fallen to 750 families. Dedicated in 1924, St. Francis Xavier School has also faced dwindling enrollment in recent years. After its enrollment was cut in half to just 60 students in three years, the school was closed in 2011.
"Our parishioners are very supportive and caring to those in need, and are very happy that we were able to reach out and help others with this project," said Father Pace. "Now, since our school is closed, we will just bring Jesus in another way."
The Interagency Committee on Supportive Housing is the state’s administrative organization charged with creating supportive housing units for Connecticut’s homeless. The committee is comprised of representatives from eight state agencies: the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Department of Social Services, the Court Support Services Division of the Judicial Branch, and the Office of Policy and Management.