MERIDEN — U.S. Marine Corps veteran Howard McGill saw the construction on Hanover Street and asked his case worker how he could move in.
McGill had been living in a city hotel since the pandemic began in the spring and wanted to secure a permanent home.
“I told her about it,” McGill said. “I recommended myself.”
McGill’s case worker contacted the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s VASH program about supportive housing and helped file his application. McGill is now ready to move in.
“We’ve been waiting on something like this for years,” McGilll said. Nobody said welcome home or anything like that when we came back. This is beautiful.”
After 10 years in the works, the Meriden Housing Authority opened Hanover Place Tuesday for homeless veterans and veterans at risk of being homeless.
Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting at the nine-unit project included speeches from Gov. Ned Lamont, state Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno, Mayor Kevin Scarpati, MHA Executive Director Robert Cappelletti and more.
But the timing of the ribbon-cutting the day before the nation celebrates Veterans Day, symbolized the city’s committment to veterans and appreciation of their sacrifices. State Rep. Hilda Santiago called it a “safe haven for veterans.”
“It is one of the best thank yous the Meriden community can give to the veterans who can now call this home,” Santiago told the crowd assembled under a tent. “The outpouring from the Meriden community has been extrarodinary.”
The $4.2 million project was paid for with the help of state and federal funding with HUD committing to 20 years of housing subsidies and support services. It was the first project that Cappelletti wanted to initiate when he came on board in 2010, but was set behind for a lack of state funding. Two weeks after Mosquera-Bruno became commissioner, the project received the necessary state funding and construction began.
The housing authority’s development arm, the Maynard Road Development Corp. was the general contractor. As it waited for Hanover Place to get on the books, Maynard Road Corp. completed $174 million worth of work on other projects, including Chamberlain Heights, Meriden Commons I and II and Yale Acres. Gonzalez Construction of Meriden was the builder, while the American Legion Post 45, its Ladies Auxiliary, the Hibernian Club Auxiliary, the Lion’s Club, the Elks Club and other groups donated everything from a gazebo and flagpole to coffee pots and kitchen utensils. Sophomores from the Wilcox Vocational Technical High School carpentry class built bookcases for the community room.
The project is a model of energy efficiency, Cappelletti said. Workers dug 10 geo-thermal wells to create a field that would offset heating and cooling costs, while solar panels built into the roof shingles would sustain the project’s electrical needs. Energy costs for residents will range from $35 to $50 monthly and be incorporated into the rent. Tenants will pay no more than 30 percent of their income to live in the units, Cappelletti said.
Lamont credited the housing authority and the city for persevering to get the project built. He vowed his administration would do more to increase affordable housing for veterans and others throughout the state. He also praised the MHA and the city’s work to bring housing within its transit-oriented development.
“Meriden is a real leader when it comes to housing and is a example for the rest of the state,” Lamont said “This is 10 years coming. We have a lot of work to do.
“Veterans, you served on the front lines of the country,” Lamont said. “It’s extraordinary to me that in this country we have homelessness for these veterans who put their lives on the line for their country.”