Borough seeks grant for housing complex renovations

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NAUGATUCK — The borough will apply for a federal grant to renovate 10 apartments at the Oak Terrace public housing complex until they are in full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act for handicap accessibility.

“To go further down the road with additional grant money, you have to meet these standards first,” Mayoral Aide Ed Carter said.

Under the state’s Community Development Block Grant program, which administers the federal funds, the borough cannot receive more than $500,000 for the project. The Naugatuck Housing Authority, which runs the Oak Terrace complex, has yet to hire an architect to determine the exact cost of the renovations, Carter said.

“Ten units, I don’t think they’re going to cost $50,000 each,” Carter said.

At least 5 percent of the complex’s 194 units must be in compliance with handicap accessibility laws to qualify for more state and federal aid, Carter said.

Renovating 10 units will satisfy the requirement so the borough can use additional funds, or apply for another grant, for other projects, Carter said.

The application must be sent to the state by June. The borough will be notified in the fall if the project is to be funded. If the state awards the grant, the borough must then complete a contract, a process not likely to be finished before next February, Carter said.

Many residents of Oak Terrace, which houses low-income seniors and people with disabilities, have handicapped parking, but Carter said he was not aware of any problems residents might be having with accessibility in their apartments, which do not have stairs.

“You might have an issue with someone walking, but they don’t necessarily need it to be wheelchair height,” Carter said. “I think for most people, it does work.”
Renovation plans will probably include lowering counters and installing grab bars, Carter said.

The borough received $500,000 in 2010 through the block grant program to install a larger pipe under Nettleton Avenue and Moore Avenue, which flood during strong rainstorms. The state used economic data from the 2000 census to identify small low-income areas that were eligible for the grants. The 2010 census did not follow the same format, dividing the borough instead into four larger pieces, which do not meet the economic requirements. Public housing, however, still qualifies.

“To simplify the census, they’ve made it harder for municipalities to access a stream of dollars which had been important in the past,” Mayor Robert Mezzo said. “I understand the concerns for balancing the federal budget, but a lot of these programs create jobs.”