Hartford’s homeownership rate is among the lowest across the country for cities, but one project in the Sheldon-Charter Oak neighborhood is chipping away at that dismal standing.
The Corporation for Independent Living, a non-profit that develops and builds housing for low- and moderate-income families, has sold two of the eight, single-family attached houses in a redevelopment near the old Capewell Horseshoe Nail factory.
Another two units are under contract, and CIL is working with four more potential buyers. The first phase of the redevelopment eventually will have 16 houses.
“We are hoping to raise the level of commitment to homeownership in the city,” Martin M. Legault, president of CIL, told me today.
CIL has renovated and constructed dozens of houses around the city, including some in the 1990s on nearby Wyllys Street.
The purchase prices are $155,000 for a 1,600-square-foot, two-bedroom house and between $165,000 and $175,000 for a slightly larger, three-bedroom house. Each house comes with a two-car garage.
The houses cost far more to construct — closer to $200,000 for each house not counting other additional costs such as paying off back taxes that were owned on the property.
But subsidies, including nearly $4 million from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, are keeping prices down and encouraging urban homeownership, Legault said.
To qualify for a shot at purchasing, families must earn 80 percent or less of the median income for the Hartford area. For a family of four, annual income would have to be $65,000 or less a year.
Applicants must also complete an 8-hour homeownership training program.
One of the first things you notice walking into the houses is that there is unexpected attention to details: wide window moulding, six-panel interior doors and oval windows.
The houses must be owned by low- and moderate-income families for 15 years. If they are sold before that to buyers who don’t meet the income guidelines, those buyers would be required to also pay off a portion of the housing subsidies, Elaine Schmidt, CIL’s senior housing developer, told me.
Another phase of the redevelopment — another eight units — also is planned. But standing on the sidewalk outside the completed houses, Legault also has his eye on the massive, decaying Capewell factory just down the street at the corner of Charter Oak Avenue and Popieluszko Court.
He hopes that the old factory will become housing one day, too. Perhaps for condos, he says.