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Norwalk, CT breaks ground on affordable apartments with free childcare center

A construction worker moves paneling for the foundation of a building that will be part of Oak Grove - an affordable housing complex in Norwalk.
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
A construction worker moves paneling for the foundation of a building that will be part of Oak Grove - an affordable housing complex in Norwalk.

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Norwalk city leaders and state officials broke ground Monday on a new affordable apartment complex which will house families and homeless residents.

They joined housing advocates as they stepped around muddy puddles on the construction site of Oak Grove apartments to celebrate the project.

The complex, which is set to go up on West Cedar Street, will have 69 apartments. A portion of those units will be set aside for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents, Norwalk Housing Authority Executive Director Adam Bovilsky said.

“There are vouchers that we are putting into this development that specifically serve the homeless,” Bovilsky said.

Oak Grove is operated by the Norwalk Housing Authority, in partnership with several local organizations including the Open Doors homeless shelter and affordable housing developer Heritage Housing Inc.

A free early childhood education center for residents’ children will be on site, accommodating 50 kids.

The Learning Center, managed by the Authority, will offer after school programs to K-5th grade students living at Oak Grove. The center will offer homework help, one-on-one literacy tutoring, STEM and art activities, yoga and physical fitness classes, and a computer lab. There will also be cultural events and special field trips in which children may take part.

Housing Authority Board of Commissioners Chair Brenda Penn-Williams said the center and its teachers will keep the children on track in their education.

“We provide literacy, homework help, social and emotional learning STEM and art activities.”

The units will be a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments and will all be considered affordable, available to residents earning between 30% and 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

The apartments benefit Connecticut’s economy, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said.

“We have 100,000 open jobs in Connecticut and we have a need for more than 100,000 affordable housing units,” Bysiewicz said. “So, what we’re doing today is addressing a huge need, because you can’t fill jobs unless you have places for people to live.”

The project was largely funded through state and federal dollars, including a recent round of gap funding from the state Department of Housing.

The apartment complex will go up on West Cedar street and should be move-in ready by next fall.

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.