LISC National

Supporting Homeownership: Hartford’s Asylum Hill


Ken Johnson, executive director of Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (NINA), believes homeownership is a powerful catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. People who own a home make a big investment. They take pride in it, work to maintain it, get to know their neighbors and collaborate to make the neighborhood stronger. 

“When NINA began, there were 49 abandoned buildings in a square mile, and blight begets blight. Our restored homes created pride of place, generating interest and momentum. This multiplies the positive impact by increasing the value of other homes in the neighborhood, enabling families to build equity and achieve the American dream.” - Ken Johnson

Asylum Hill, in the middle of Hartford, was a very desirable neighborhood of stately Victorian homes for insurance and manufacturing employees in the 1800s. Over time, the community lost investment and population, and suffered physical decline. Home to several large corporations and institutions, the revitalization of the neighborhood is important to residents and corporations alike. NINA’s partner corporations know many of their employees value Asylum Hill’s proximity to work, with easy access to downtown’s culture and dining options.

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When and where: Since 2003, NINA has worked in the Asylum Hill neighborhood. Its homes are clustered on Ashley, Garden and Sargeant Streets, as well as on Huntington and Imlay Streets.

What: NINA has renovated or built 20 homes and one mixed-use building, for a total of 31 units of housing and 5,805 square feet of commercial space. They operate programs for home improvements, landscaping, streetscapes, community safety and youth development. Their Homeownership Incentive Program helps employees of Asylum Hill institutions purchase homes in the neighborhood. NINA also works extensively with volunteers from area corporations and institutions.

Why and how: LISC participates in NINA’s work with loans for acquisition, predevelopment and construction. LISC also provides capacity-building and operating support grants, technical assistance and training. NINA was a winner of the LISC Safety MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Award.

Who: NINA’s major funders for homeownership development include Aetna, The Hartford, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Webster Bank, LISC, City of Hartford, Eversource, People’s United Community Foundation, Travelers, William and Alice Mortensen Fund, Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Natural Gas and Bank of America.

Thanks to the funders who support LISC’s work in Hartford:

Bank of America
Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation
Bissell Foundation
Charles Nelson Robinson Fund
Citizens Bank
City of Hartford Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development
Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA)
Ensworth Charitable Foundation
Farmington Bank
First Niagara Bank
Fisher Foundation
The Fund for Greater Hartford
George and Grace Long Foundation
Hartford Foundation for Public Giving
JP Morgan Chase
People’s United Community Foundation
Santander Bank
TD Charitable Foundation
U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development
United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut
Webster Bank