Hartford is filled with a rich history of innovation, culture—and homes. Hartford’s Asylum Hill neighborhood features a variety of architectural styles from the 19th century, including Queen Anne, Italianate, Colonial Revival, and Shingle-style homes. The neighborhood’s Sigourney Square Historic District has more than 200 homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Creating Home-Ownership Opportunities

There’s a reason This Old House named Hartford’s Asylum Hill as one of the best places in America for first-time homeowners to purchase an historic home.

“Many of our recent buyers tend to be word of mouth and people who’ve heard about NINA and seen the houses we’ve redeveloped. They’re attracted to the energy of an urban neighborhood and sense of community we have here in Asylum Hill,” says Ken Johnson, Executive Director at Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance, Inc. (NINA).

“Our houses get snapped up very quickly after they’re completed,” he adds. “For example, we received 12 offers for the four homes that comprise Hartford Heritage Homes, NINA’s latest homeownership project. Those offers came from neighborhoods across the city and from towns around the Hartford region as well as two from New York City.”

Karen T. Taylor, Director of Equity & Opportunity for the City of Hartford enjoyed the experience of working with NINA when she was house hunting. “I decided to work with NINA because of their reputation for building community and because of the quality of their renovations,” she says. “I was excited to get the best of both worlds, a historic home with all the updates—crown molding, modern paint palette, and beautiful landscaping. I also loved that local organizations contributed their resources and efforts to building my home.”

Karen notes that she chose the Asylum Hill neighborhood of Hartford because of its proximity, people, parks, and price. “I’ve lived in Hartford for most of my life, and I’ve grown to appreciate the cultural diversity,” she adds. “I also love that nearly every corner of the city has a beautiful, lush park to enjoy.”

Hartford lover Chion Wolf moved to an apartment in Asylum Hill in 2010, after being hired by Connecticut Public Broadcasting. “Ten years later, my career, social life, and commitment to the city have grown,” she says. “Through NINA, my wife, Emily, and I bought a new house right down the street from the station! There’s something about this city—it’s such fertile ground to grow.”

Building Community Pride

NINA’s work extends beyond rebuilding and into creating a spirit of neighborhood pride. The organization has worked with neighbors on issues like porch repairs and engaged an entire block in a landscaping project in which NINA recruited professional landscape designers to work with homeowners to create pocket gardens in front of their homes.

“We like to work with the surrounding neighbors because, rebuilding the house is great, but when it becomes contagious and neighbors start renovating their own homes, that’s when we really think we hit a home run,” emphasizes Ken.

Find out how NINA has been working to revitalize Hartford’s Asylum Hill neighborhood, restoring blighted historic houses and creating affordable homeownership opportunities for low- to moderate-income families since 2004.

Read the entire story at the MetroHartford Alliance website.