Officials seek more money for Stern Village work

Stern Village, a 62-and-older community run by the Trumbull Housing Authority, is seeking $1 million in state funding for needed HVAC and other upgrades. — Brian A. Pounds

Trumbull officials are looking for more funding to refurbish Stern Village.

The Economic Development Commission will be submitting a application for $1 million through the Community Development Block Grant: Small Cities program in April to fund new heat pumps, air circulators and boilers for the congregate housing building at the 62-and-older community at 200 Hedgehog Circle.

“Everyone is very excited,” said Harriett Polansky, director of Stern Village. “These buildings are over 40 years old. They were built poorly, but then again, times were different back then and we’re doing right the first time.”

There are 186 existing units in Stern Village — 100 efficiency homes and 86 one-bedrooms units.

There are also 36 efficiency units in the community’s Stern Center congregate building for residents with difficulties performing daily activity.

In 2013, the state Housing and Finance Authority determined that the community was at risk based on a Capital Needs Assessment. In its old age — Stern Village has been around since 1970 — the property has had its share of problems, particularly with sewage and pot holes.

Applying for grants is part of how the refurbishment has moved forward: Stern Village was on the receiving end of several funding programs last year.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Polansky said. “We’ve gotten a lot of wonderful funding from a lot of different sources.”

The complex was one of 10 affordable housing projects in the state to receive a portion of $31 million in funding from the state Department of Housing last summer, receiving $5.3 million through the Small Cities program for renovations to apartment units.

Eversource Energy contributed $500,000 to the Trumbull Housing Authority through the state Housing Tax Credit Contribution Program. The program allows businesses to invest in nonprofit housing programs by buying tax credits and applying them to their corporate taxes.

But new funding is not an assured thing.

Recent proposals by Gov. Ned Lamont to cut back on state borrowing and bonding has created some concerns for additional money.

“We’ve applied for state grants for several years and were able to finally get some … but that was under former Gov. Dannel Malloy,” Polansky said.

Lamont’s two-year budget proposal, which calls for a “debt diet,” includes cutting authorizations through the State Bond Commission, which he controls, by $600 million a year. Advocates for organizations that develop and maintain housing for the homeless and those who are addicted or otherwise in need said that puts unfinished or pending projects at risk.

“These grants that we’re getting are very important, because most housing authorities don’t have the money to make the type of upgrades for the health and safety and stability of their residents,” Polansky said. “We want to be sustainable for the next 10 to 20 years out, but there is a need for more public housing. … Our residents are low-income, and this is the only affordable housing and public housing in the town.”

Trumbull has a variety of senior housing along with Stern Village — including Spring Meadow and Middlebrook Farms — with more expected in coming years. Development of a senior housing project at 101-109 Oakview Drive continues and will create 128 units of housing for the elderly, Trumbull officials said.

“The population is aging,” said Rina Bakalar, Trumbull’s economic and community development director, in an email to Hearst Connecticut Media. “A silver tsunami is coming, and housing and services will be needed. This effort at Stern Village is not adding units but improving the units already there.”

Jordan.grice@hearstmediact.com