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New London Housing Authority considers aid to Bridgeport

August 29, 2018

New London — The city’s Housing Authority is considering an arrangement to provide administrative services to the Bridgeport Housing Authority’s Section 8 voucher program.

The New London Housing Authority and its management team, Imagineers LLC, are involved in ongoing talks with representatives from Bridgeport and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Housing Authority Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Betsy Gibson said the ongoing struggles of the Bridgeport Housing Authority, designated by HUD in 2014 as “troubled,” has led to intervention from HUD and a request for aid.

“HUD has come to us and asked for a favor,” Gibson said.

Gibson said she expects there would be a financial benefit for the New London Housing Authority but said a dollar figure has not been discussed.

The Bridgeport Housing Authority, known as Park City Communities, manages nearly 2,600 public housing units, 2,800 Section 8 vouchers and 12,000 tenants on its properties. HUD is hoping to use the New London Housing Authority for what Gibson called a “pass through,” allowing Imagineers and its staff to take on administration of 2,800 Section 8 vouchers from Bridgeport.

The proposed resolution being considered by the New London Housing Authority board of commissioners would make Imagineers staff available to Bridgeport through New London’s existing management agreement with Imagineers.

Section 8 vouchers now more commonly are known as Housing Choice vouchers. The Housing Choice Voucher Program is the federal government’s program for assisting low-income families, the elderly and disabled find affordable housing in the private market.

Vouchers were distributed to the former residents of the federally subsidized Thames River Apartments on Crystal Avenue to allow them to find suitable homes in the private market.

The Housing Authority’s board of commissioners has discussed the possibility of agreement with Bridgeport in two closed-door meetings this month. They have yet to come to a consensus or a vote or discuss the matter in a public meeting. Another meeting is planned with HUD this week.

Gibson said the agreement does not call for the takeover of the Bridgeport Housing Authority but said the expertise of Imagineers could be used to aid residents in the Bridgeport program.

Imagineers manages condominiums, rental properties and has a program management division that now provides housing choice program management and consulting services. The company currently administers 6,000 units of Housing Choice vouchers for eight housing authorities in Connecticut, according to its website, www.imagineersllc.com.

Should an agreement come to fruition, Imagineers would provide staff to Bridgeport that is separate from its staff in New London, said Matthew Anderson, Imagineers director of rental properties.

A representative from Bridgeport Housing Authority has not returned a request for information. A HUD representative was not immediately available for comment.

g.smith@theday.com

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