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Officials push for demolition of Greene Homes in Bridgeport

November 30, 2018

BRIDGEPORT — Officials are hoping to demolish the Charles F. Greene Homes public housing complex in the Hollow after years of maintenance problems and violence.

Mayor Joe Ganim and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., are calling on the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to support the decommissioning of the housing complex off of Highland Avenue, a Friday news release said.

“The living conditions at Greene Homes are unacceptable,” Ganim said in a prepared statement. “I made a commitment to improving the quality of life and public housing in Bridgeport and sometimes that means building, but in this instance, it means tearing down.”

The city is working with Park City Communities, formerly known as the Bridgeport Housing Authority, to vacate the complex because of current living conditions.

“These issues include recurring violence and damaged elevators that prevent many residents, especially those that are disabled, from leaving their homes,” the release said.

Police reports of shots being fired are called in to 911 in the area of Greene Homes frequently, though most times a gunshot wound victim is not found. Calls also come in about people using drugs in the stairwells.

On Oct. 11, 2017, 18-year-old Jeri Kollock was forced to strip naked, and then was robbed and shot seven times in Building 1. He died after struggling through the building for about 45 minutes after being shot, police said. Jahmari “Wack” Cooper was charged with Kollock’s murder on Sept. 28.

“For so many years, elected officials and community leaders have argued that the people of the Greene Homes deserve better than their current living conditions,” said Alfredo Castillo, councilman and liaison to the Park City Communities board.

HUD data shows there are 699 residents living in the Greene Homes apartment complex. There are 269 HUD units in the complex.

A rule finalized in June 30, 1998, states that federally subsidized housing must meet physical condition standards. “These standards are intended to ensure that such housing is decent, safe, sanitary and in good repair,” according to HUD.

Charles F. Greene Homes failed at least two inspections between April 2016 and February of this year, HUD data showed. Inspectors rank facilities on a 100-point scale. Any score below 60 indicates a failed inspection.

Some factors that can cause an inspector to deduct points include mold, infestations, broken doors or windows, tripping hazards and graffiti, according to HUD.

The average score for Connecticut in 2018 was 82.9 out of 100. Greene Homes February inspection fell nearly 60 points below that average at 23.

On April 25, 2016, Greene Homes received a score of 19 for an inspection.

Cowlis Andrews, chairman of the board of Park City Communities, called the housing complex a “functionally obsolete development.”

“It’s reached the point where it’s time to look at another use,” for the space to better serve the people of Bridgeport, Andrews said, adding, “It’s an old, tired structure.”

Though it’s up in the air for what will fill the vacant land once the buildings are demolished, Andrews said a less-dense housing complex isn’t out of the question.

The city and Park City Communities “are working closely together ... on keeping the people as safe as we can over there,” Andrews said. “We’re trying to work on public safety issues and looking at the best use for the site.”

Yearly, Andrews estimated, anywhere from $50,000 to $80,000 is spent solely on elevator maintenance of the buildings at Greene Homes.

On a monthly basis, based on fire and police dispatch reports, first responders are sent to buildings at Greene Homes multiple times for stuck elevators. Usually those stuck are freed within about an hour.

Greene Homes dissolution could follow a pattern already in place; Marina Village residents were relocated during the replacement of the complex as part of a multiphase plan where developers demolished specific sections of the complex at a time. The last residents still living at the complex were moved earlier this year.

The residents of Marina Village found new homes through a deal known as a Memorandum of Agreement and Uniform Relocation Act. And those in Greene Homes can expect something similar.

“It will follow the same rules as they did for the Marina Village,” Andrews said. “We’re going to comply with all of the rights that the people have.”

The city is working to procure a firm to handle the application for the decommission of Greene Homes. Proposals can be submitted to the Purchasing Office, Margaret E. Morton Government Center, 999 Broad St. in Bridgeport, by 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6. To apply, visit https://bit.ly/2QrIW8d.

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