housing

Sal Pinna Finally Finds a Home

Apr 16, 2015
Susan Campbell / WNPR

I didn’t think the story would end this way.

Sal Pinna has been homeless for 20 years, since he came to Connecticut from his native Long Island to enroll in a substance abuse program. 

Pinna is a 52-year-old man who loves the Mets, Batman, and Dean Martin. He wants a home, but the myriad forms and appointments that are required have proven to be beyond him. Pinna has diabetes, and he’s been diagnosed with depression, and a few years ago, bipolar disorder. 

Hyland House

Definitively dating an old house can be tricky. Today, we have things like photographs and land records, but how would you figure out a house's age without that kind of stuff? 

Less than three months after the U.S. announced it will ease travel to Cuba, home rental site Airbnb is listing properties in the island nation. The average price for a room or home in Havana is currently $43. The company says it's starting out with more than 1,000 listings.

A look at the offerings Thursday morning found everything from "beautiful colonial rooms for rent in the heart of Havana" for $27 a night to a "a holiday sanctuary" chalet on the outskirts of Havana that can accommodate 10 guests for $1,000. It includes a pool.

How Do You Get an ID When You Have No Home?

Apr 1, 2015
Susan Campbell / WNPR

It was a bitter cold Friday in March, and Sal Pinna was heading into the wind on Main Street in Hartford.

"Cold enough, but I don't feel a thing," Pinna said. "I guess I’m used to it."

Pinna, a Long Island native, has been homeless for 20 years in Connecticut, but he wants very much to get an apartment. He has in his backpack a xeroxed copy of his birth certificate – but that’s not good enough for official paperwork. Without proper identification, Pinna is stuck in shelters, or worse.

State of Connecticut

The Connecticut home of the man who carried out the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school has been demolished. 

Health and Wellbeing / Creative Commons

Nobel prize winning economist Robert Shiller says the Fed has a very tricky job when it begins to signal a rise in interest rates. Shiller, who teaches at Yale, told WNPR’s Where We Live that there’s no historical precedent for the lengthy period of low interest rates that we’re living through. 

James Malone / Flickr Creative Commons

At the beginning of this century, when tech stocks were hot and dot-coms were appearing everywhere, Yale professor and renowned economist Robert Shiller was already warning of a bubble -- and he was right. Years later, when housing prices were skyrocketing and millions of American were betting big on real estate, Robert Shiller again predicted an impending crisis. Sadly, he was right again.

Now, with the housing market showing signs of improvement, many are getting the sense that we’re finally out woods. And with this feeling returns the idea that buying a home today means financial gains down the road.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Hartford is investing in a $350 million development in the North End of the city that will include housing, shopping, and a minor league baseball stadium, dubbed Downtown North. But will investment in Downtown North translate into economic prosperity to the rest of the North End?

Wasted Time R / Creative Commons

Quinnipiac University faces a $150-a-day fine, with the Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission accusing it of violating a 2006 housing agreement that led to construction of the York Hill campus. 

After Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Kathy Hanlon's life crumbled. Her Long Beach, N.Y., home had no electricity, her family was traumatized and one of her sons was getting sick. On top of that, there was the bureaucratic maze of flood insurance.

"I cried many times because I was so angry when I got off the phone with the insurance company," Hanlon says. "It was demeaning. We had to send them things repeatedly. We had to wait for phone calls. We had to wait for people to come visit the house."

DoNo Hartford LLC

The developers of the new minor league baseball stadium in Hartford are also building apartments around the venue. They're looking for ways to make some of those units accessible to people with lower incomes. 

Officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking earlier this week for the baseball stadium. Soon, across the street, the work to build the retail, residential, and entertainment project will begin. 

Chion Wolf

Salvatore Pinna moved to Connecticut 20 years ago. The 52-year-old has been living on the streets and under bridges since he moved here. He's one of many chronically homeless people in the state.

This hour, we meet Sal and hear the first of a series of stories about homelessness in Greater Hartford, where the 100-Day Challenge is about to begin, an initiative to try to to eliminate barriers and connect stakeholders -- to create a plan to end chronic homelessness -- in 100 days.

Officials in Newtown, Conn., have voted to demolish the home of Adam Lanza, the gunman who killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

The Newtown Legislative Council voted 10-0 Wednesday night to approve a proposal to tear down the 3,100-square-foot home where Lanza lived with his mother. The land on which the home stands will be kept as open space for now.

Asthma affects children regardless of where they live and whether they are rich or poor. But scientists have long thought that living in poor urban neighborhoods adds an extra risk for this troublesome lung inflammation. A new study suggests that's not necessarily the case.

Asthma is often triggered by something in the environment, so in the 1960s, scientists started looking for places where asthma was especially bad.

The mayor of Springfield is calling on the administration of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to end a practice by the past administration of placing homeless families in congregate housing.

An angry Mayor Domenic Sarno said de-facto group homes for homeless families have been created in apartment buildings concentrated in a handful of city neighborhoods since last fall with city inspectors finding in some cases 3-4 families living in a single apartment.

" This is absolute BS," said Sarno at a city hall news conference.

Falling oil prices are perhaps nowhere more welcome than in northern New England, where most homes burn heating oil in their furnaces. But cheaper heating oil is refilling consumers' pockets just as high electric prices are emptying them out.

For example, a heating oil truck delivers 600 gallons of heating oil every two weeks to an old, four-story brick building in Concord, N.H. At last year's oil prices, each refill would have cost around $2,200. Right now, it's more than $300 cheaper.

A federal directive will go into effect Saturday making it easier for some Americans to come up with a down payment to buy a house.

The vast majority of home loans are guaranteed by the government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The regulator in charge of Fannie and Freddie will allow first-time homebuyers to put down as little as 3 percent.

University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut is in negotiations to buy a hotel in Storrs and eventually turn it into a student dormitory.

City of Bridgeport

An ex-employee has sued the Bridgeport Housing Authority, claiming she was fired to cover up $2 million in fraud and mismanagement she discovered. 

Paul Bass / New Haven Independent

Governor Malloy announced on Thursday a $21.5 million investment in phase two of New Haven’s Downtown Crossing plan.

Two years after Superstorm Sandy struck the Northeast, hundreds of Staten Islanders are deciding whether to sell their shorefront homes to New York state, which wants to knock them down and let the empty land act as a buffer to the ocean.

Stephen Drimalas was one Staten Islander faced with this tough decision. He lived in a bungalow not far from the beach in the working-class neighborhood of Ocean Breeze. He barely escaped Sandy's floodwaters with his life.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It’s been years since the housing market crashed. But in that time, increased job insecurity and the rising cost of living have left many questioning whether the American dream of homeownership is still a practical one, especially for the nation’s low- and middle-wage earners.

Wikimedia Commons

Allan Borghesi wanted to rezone about 60 acres in New Hartford and Canton from "residential" to "industrial" and, earlier this summer, it looked like the deal was a sure bet. New Hartford signed off on the proposal in June, but opposition in Canton grew in the interim -- organizing itself on Facebook and through petitions. Now, Borghesi has withdrawn his request.

Staten Island's Fox Beach neighborhood used to be a working-class area with about 180 homes, mostly small bungalows. Fox Beach is — or rather was — a few hundred feet from the Atlantic Ocean, and after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, homeowners decided their neighborhood was dangerous in terms of natural disasters and too expensive because of the rising cost of flood insurance.

So the state has been tearing down the homes.

Bill Bye's home at 16 Kissam Ave. was a recent one to go.

Wikimedia Commons

A proposed industrial development on 60 acres near the Farmington River is generating pushback from residents in New Hartford and Canton.

A New York City-based developer unveiled plans today for a major renovation to an apartment complex in downtown Springfield.  The project was hailed by city officials as another big step in downtown’s  revitalization.

Officials with the SilverBrick group outlined plans for what they said would be a $6 million renovation of the 280-unit complex that fronts Main Street.  The extensive makeover will include luxury amenities intended to persuade people to pay market-rate rents to live in the urban center.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It’s been years since the housing market crashed. But in that time, increased job insecurity and the rising cost of living have left many questioning whether the American dream of homeownership is still a practical one, especially for the nation’s low- and middle-wage earners.

The financial crisis pushed millions of Americans from their homes. And housing advocates complain that the government did more to prop up big banks on Wall Street than it did to help average people on Main Street.

But many of those people on Main Street could still qualify for a government program to help them save money by refinancing their mortgages.

Tammy Strobel / Flickr Creative Commons

I live in a small house on a street of big houses. And when I say big, some of the houses on my street are 7,000 and 8,000 square feet. A big house signifies an important person, right? The governor lives in a mansion. The Archbishop of Hartford lives down the street from him in a house that's even bigger.

Citigroup said Monday it had agreed to pay $7 billion to settle a federal investigation into subprime mortgages it sold in the run-up to the financial meltdown of 2008.

The deal covers mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations issued, structured or underwritten by Citi between 2003 and 2008, the company said in a statement on its website.

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