MILFORD — The Milford Housing Development Corporation, a local non-profit hoping to improve Central Milford, is working to bring additional grant money into the community.
The organization has already received some funding from the Wells Fargo Regional Planning Foundation in the form of a planning grant.
“They have given us a 12-to-18-month period to use this $100,000 grant to conduct a survey of residents from the city of Milford in our target area,” said Susan Davis, the organization’s resource development specialist.
MHDC is working on getting that survey out to households in the target area.
“We’re very interested in the affordable housing aspect, but there may be other things we can pass on to the city in terms of bringing those things to bear,” Ms. Davis said.
The survey contains questions about everything from basic demographic information to how long people have lived in the neighborhood to why they moved in.
This grant process began before the pandemic, and MHDC initially planned to carry out the survey in a very different manner.
“Right before we went into that shutdown, we were going to… have speakers and a ribbon-cutting,” said Russell Huxtable, MHDC’s vice president. “Then COVID hit, and (the foundation) said to put that on pause.”
MHDC went into hibernation for six months, then emerged with a completely different game plan.
“We’ve had to reengineer everything to do it virtually and still be effective at getting the type of feedback we want,” Mr. Huxtable said.
“Before, it was supposed to be us going door to door and going through the survey with them,” he said. “That’s what we’re crossing our fingers on. Since we can’t go door to door and make sure our survey is completed, we’re hoping that… people will still engage with the survey.”
Once all the responses have been gathered, MHDC will write up a plan based on the community’s priorities and send an application to Wells Fargo for an implementation grant of $500,000.
If MHDC’s plan is accepted and they carry out their plan to Wells Fargo’s liking, the city would be eligible to apply for a second $500,000 implementation grant.
Ms. Davis said Wells Fargo actually asked MHDC to apply for the program on the City of Milford’s behalf given their decades of experience developing affordable housing.
MHDC has been around since 1977, Mr. Huxtable said. In 1982, they completed work on their first project, the Academy Apartments on North Church Street.
Since then, the non-profit has created over 1,200 housing units from Middletown to Long Neck. They also have a few properties in Maryland.
MHDC also has direct experience working with the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation on the Restoring Central Dover project, which began in 2014.
“There’s some common elements that we think we’re going to see from Dover” in the Milford implementation grant application, Mr. Huxtable said.
For example, he expects an emphasis on housing repair and restoration, community policing and community engagement.
“In Dover they’ve painted all those boxes, they’ve done those murals,” Mr. Huxtable said. “That’s all sort of engagement as well.”
This engagement element is very important, he said, because the goal is to have residents heavily involved in every aspect of the program.
In Milford, MHDC’s target area for the grant is mostly within the Downtown Development District, but there is one neighborhood included on the south bank of the Mispillion River which is not.
“We knew we wanted to focus on that DDD area, but we knew that wasn’t the only area that we could work in,” Mr. Huxtable said.
He said Rob Pierce, the city’s planning and economic development director, suggested the neighborhood centered on Southeast Front Street be added. Like much of the DDD, it’s a relatively dense neighborhood with older homes.
MHDC is hoping to get at least 200 households to respond to the survey, so Mr. Huxtable bought 200 $5 gift cards from two downtown eateries, Dolce and My Sister’s Fault, as an incentive.
The organization is sending out postcards with QR codes which will contain a QR code directing residents to the survey. For those who are less tech savvy, Ms. Davis can send out a paper copy of the questionnaire or, if all else fails, conduct an interview over the phone.
For more information about the survey or any other questions about MHDC, people can contact Ms. Davis at 491-4015 or firstname.lastname@example.org.