Housing Authority approves $650K relocation budget

Old Town Hall Houses in Darien.
Old Town Hall Houses in Darien.Humberto J. Rocha / Hearst Connecticut Media

DARIEN — The town’s Housing Authority unanimously approved $654,917 to help relocate senior residents from the Old Town Hall Houses on 719 Post Road.

“We have to extend some funds to relocate tenants from old town homes to adequate market rate apartments and then move them back,” said Peter Bigelow, treasurer for the Housing Authority.

The budget includes contingency expenses and is meant to last for 18 months, the projected amount of time tenants will be required to be off campus while redevelopment of the Old Town Hall Houses takes place. The Housing Authority will pay rent to the new landlords where the residents are relocated, and tenants will send their regular rent checks to the Housing Authority.

“The budget seems to me to be appropriate. We have the funds to cover it,” Bigelow said.

The Housing Authority won’t know the actual cost per month until everyone has been relocated and rents determined. Bigelow said it appears, so far, the Housing Authority is at or just below their monthly projection.

“With the real estate market and how it is, we weren’t sure what to expect,” he said.

Housing Authority Chairman Joseph Warren said the process of moving the residents is going better than expected.

“We’re slightly ahead at this time,” he said about the moving schedule.

The target date to have everybody moved from the Old Town Hall Houses is still set for Jan. 1.

A resident has already been relocated, and at least three others have found new locations and are in the process of filling out paperwork to make their moves, Warren said.

“They are much, much more relaxed than they were several months ago now that a couple of people have found an apartment,” he said. “They all realize this is very doable.”

Some residents were concerned they would not have been treated well during the relocation process, Warren said.

“These are all senior residents and for seniors to move is a big deal,” he said.

Two of the largest concerns for the residents were they wouldn’t have enough time to make the move, and that suitable places to move to would not be found.

“They were concerned that we would be looking to go as cheap as we possibly could and put them anywhere,” he said. “They’re much more comfortable now that they have seen where we have relocated the residents that we have relocated.”

Warren said taking someone that has been living comfortably for more than 10 years and making them suddenly move is understandably a big deal. The Housing Authority has to accommodate 20 residents in total.

“Our primary objective is to relocate as many residents in Darien as we can. In the absence of that, we will look in Stamford and Norwalk,” he said. “Our tenants need to understand they are still our residents and therefore entitled to all the resources they would have as a Darien resident.”