Housing our vets

The Meriden Housing Authority is looking to breathe new life into the long-dormant plan to build housing for veterans on Hanover Street. This would certainly be a better use for the site than growing grass on the vacant lot where the Hanover House bar once stood.

The MHA already owns the 0.56-acre parcel at 249 Hanover St., between South 1st and South 2nd streets, but the idea of building nine units of housing for vets there fell through in 2010, when financing couldn’t be found. Other proposals for the site also failed.

The idea now is to tie this project in with the larger range of development involving the downtown Transit Oriented District. The MHA has a much larger project in the works for Colony Street, with 63 housing units plus office or retail space, as well as a plan for a mixed-use development on West Main Street. One source of funding for the Hanover Street proposal might be a tax credit program financed through the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority. The application deadline for that is in November.

At any rate, the vets’ housing would be a 24,371-square-foot, two-and-a-half-story building with nine residential units.

And why not build it? Discussions about other uses went nowhere, after all, and the prospect of a tax-paying commercial or residential building being constructed there seems exceedingly dim.

And why should a local veteran who needs housing have to move to the home in Rocky Hill that the Department of Veterans Affairs maintains, or to somewhere even farther away, when he or she might be able to live downtown, close to family, friends, transportation and other services?

Back in 2010 this was estimated to be a $1 million project. It’s not yet clear whether that price is still reasonable, but if funding can be found, why not go through with it?

And if that means spending some taxpayer dollars, who deserves it more than our vets?



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