One of our community partners asked the other day, ‘How are things going at your new building?’ As I drew a deep breath to give an answer, I realized that we are really here, and so much is happening!
The thirteen supportive housing tenants upstairs at the 55B Apartments are settling in and getting to know the vibrant and diverse Parkville neighborhood. Four of them are building their resumes and getting job training as maintenance support for Hands On Hartford. The HOH Housing Services staff also continues to work with all of the former residents of Peter’s Retreat, as well as providing housing support services and homelessness prevention assistance to a number of other folks across Hartford.
The MANNA Community Pantry and the Backpack Nutrition program areas are clean, beautiful and light, with more room to store and distribute fresh produce (along with fresh milk, eggs and bread), and also more room to store donations of regular pantry staples. With a loading dock in the back of the building, it is easier than ever for us to receive large food drive donations and deliveries of food obtained from Foodshare.
Neighborhood services are going strong. Because the new location is on two major bus routes and a CT Fastrak station is located directly behind us, clients from across Hartford find it easy to get here. We continue to offer referrals, utility assistance, limited security deposit assistance, training and employment opportunity assistance, health screenings and even a new diaper bank, made possible by some truly generous donations and the extra storage space we now enjoy.
Larger customized service projects, immersions and “Dash for a Difference” events now kick off in our Community Room and Café space, and community partnerships and collaborations on service events continue throughout the city. Individual volunteers help out at the pantry and backpack program on a daily basis, and groups participate in special events for the 55B tenants, as well as diverse service projects at other nonprofits, parks and schools in Hartford.
The Community Café space, community room and training & conference room enable us to host events (like our annual Volunteer Appreciation Event) and community meetings, as well as serving as a host site for Coordinated Access Network Assessments, a collaboration intended address homelessness and housing crises more efficiently and effectively.
Two programs which are not yet operating from our Center for Community are Community Meals, which provides hot meals and vital assistance to homeless individuals and working families, three days and two evenings a week (still located at 45 Church Street) and Senior Community Café, our weekend senior meals program. Very soon, we will be receiving and reheating the weekend senior meals at our Community Kitchen at 55 Bartholomew!
With funding provided by a grant from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, we have undertaken a very exciting planning initiative focused on new uses for the large commercial kitchen and café space at the HOH Center for Community, not the least of which will involve operating a Community Café. This process is nearly complete and we will soon be announcing our short and long term plans.
Planning is also well underway for the development of our second building, which will have an additional 30 units of affordable housing. The Powerhouse Apartments (so named because the building formerly supplied power to businesses all along Bartholomew Avenue) will be a combination of one-bedroom and efficiencies, some single-floor and some townhouse style. We are currently in the process of selecting a general contractor, with a goal to “break ground” in 2017.
Finally, a general invitation: Come for a visit! We love to share our programs and plans with friends, old and new.
With best regards,
Kate Shafer, Communications Manager, May 12, 2016