Aras Jizan
Submitted by Kristin Kellogg on
This Q&A with Aras Jizan was originally published in Community Solutions' 2017 Annual Report.
Aras works on the Built for Zero Data Team where he designs, customizes, and implements data tools and analytic frameworks that help communities end chronic and veteran homelessness.
What is data analytics?
At a basic level, it’s collecting and looking at information systematically in order to make better decisions.
Submitted by Kristin Kellogg on
Homelessness is a constantly shifting problem. In order to effectively solve for it, communities need accurate and up-to-date data on the issue.
That's why Built for Zero communities create real-time, person-specific data sets of the people experiencing homelessness in their region. This information is graphed in custom dashboards, powered by Tableau, a data visualization software. These dashboards make it easier for local teams to analyze their data and use it to inform their decision-making.
(Cloe Poisson / Hartford Courant)

In Hartford, A Few Blocks Can Make All The Difference For Children Growing Out Of Poverty

Friday, October 5, 2018

Developers broke ground last month one of the biggest elements of the Promise Zone plan, revitalizing the long-vacant M. Swift & Sons factory to create an employment and training hub for residents of the 3-square-mile area, which encompasses the Clay Arsenal, Northeast and Upper Albany neighborhoods.

That project is led by Elliott, director of the North Hartford Partnership of New Haven-based Community Solutions. Now, she’s looking for her team’s next project in the neighborhood by tracking evictions and abandoned buildings, 911 calls and housing code violations.

Community Solutions President Rosanne Haggerty

Interview with Rosanne Haggerty

Monday, October 1, 2018
In such a booming economy, why is homelessness spiking and affordable housing reaching a crisis in many U.S. cities?
Homelessness is not spiking everywhere, but I would say it’s the failure of housing policy and practice to adapt quickly to changing demographics and dynamics.

A former Connecticut factory will transform into a job incubator

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Swift Gold Leaf Factory in Hartford, Connecticut, will be converted into a major community job incubator by New York-based nonprofit Community Solutions and Massachusetts design firm Bruner/Cott Architects. The $34-million adaptive reuse project aims to spur investment in the low-income neighborhood of Northeast Hartford and bring restaurant industry job opportunities to a place where the unemployment rate has hit 26 percent in recent years. 

Start of Redevelopment Project at the Former Swift Factory Celebrated at Community Groundbreaking Event

September 10, 2018

Renovation of historic site aims to create jobs and improve access to locally produced food

Rendering of the Swift Factory redevelopment
HARTFORD, CONN. (September 10, 2018) Senator Richard Blumenthal, Representative John B.


Real Estate
HARTFORD, CONN. (September 10, 2018) Senator Richard Blumenthal, Representative John B. Larson, and Mayor Luke Bronin joined Community Solutions and residents of North Hartford in breaking ground on the redevelopment of the Swift Factory on Saturday. The historic site will become a food business hub expected to bring more than 150 long-term jobs to the North Hartford Promise Zone. The site was donated to national nonprofit Community Solutions by the Swift family, which operated a prominent gold leaf manufacturing business at the site for more than 100 years. The factory and surrounding campus, vacant since 2005, will be transformed into an economic engine for job creation and health promotion centered on food growing, production, distribution, and education. The $33 million project involves an innovative blend of public and private capital enabled by the federal Promise Zone designation and the support of local and national funders. “We knew it was important to preserve this historic community asset, but it was community residents who made it clear that that the need was to bring good jobs back to the site,” said Community Solutions President Rosanne Haggerty. “Making this happen required extraordinary creativity and collaboration. We are grateful to the local and national investors and partners who shared this vision and worked patiently to make it happen.” The Swift Factory restoration plays a pivotal role in the renewal efforts for the North Hartford Promise Zone, an initiative started by President Barack Obama that provides an infusion of federal resources into 22 communities around the country to spur economic opportunity, among other aims. Senators Murphy and Blumenthal and Representative Larson, along with city and community organizations, worked to secure North Hartford’s Promise Zone designation, which was received in 2015. “Today we celebrate a new chapter in the rebirth and revitalization of the old Swift Factory—soon to become once again an anchor of jobs, opportunity, and investment in the North End,” said Senator Blumenthal. “I was proud to fight for the federal dollars that helped this project become a reality, and I will continue to work closely with community leaders to ensure the Promise Zone designation continues to provide tangible, lasting change for the neighborhood and its residents.” Senator Chris Murphy, who was not able to attend the groundbreaking celebration, was a champion of this redevelopment project, particularly when it came to designating North Hartford as a Promise Zone. “Three years ago, I stood outside the Swift Factory celebrating the North Hartford’s Promise Zone designation we had all worked so hard to win. President Obama started the program because he knew it could jumpstart neighborhoods like the North End, and it’s projects like this one that drove me to convene community leaders and civic organizations a few years ago to make it a reality,” said Senator Murphy. “I hope this excites the community and incentivizes a wave of development to create jobs and improve the lives of North End residents.” “Today is a historic day for the North End of Hartford. Today’s groundbreaking is a step forward for the revitalization of the Historic Swift Factory. Its new role as a hub for food business, health, and jobs will make a huge impact on this community. I would like to congratulate Mayor Bronin and Community Solutions for all their work on this project,” said Representative Larson. “For more than a century, the Swift factory was an iconic and important industrial facility in Hartford, and after years of lying vacant, it will soon come back to life as a hub for innovative, food-focused businesses,” said Mayor Bronin. “This is a very large project and many partners have worked together over several years to make it possible. I want to thank everyone who is involved, from Community Solutions to our entire congressional delegation to city staff and CRDA staff for their tremendous work and commitment to transforming an eyesore into a new source of energy and employment in the North Hartford Promise Zone.” The Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, a neighborhood advocacy group, played a critical role in saving the Swift Factory from demolition after years of vacancy and worked in close collaboration with Community Solutions to center the factory’s renewal around residents’ priorities. "The Northeast Revitalization Association (NERA) supports Community Solutions vision to transform the Swift Factory, which had become a vacant, blighted brownfield site, into a genuine asset in the revitalization of the neighborhood,” said NERA President Darlene Robertson-Childs. “We need projects like this here to spark investment, entrepreneurial activity, and job creation." Local restaurant group Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ will be an anchor tenant and will produce their line of sides and sauces onsite. The redeveloped factory will also include a 35,000-square-foot indoor farm run by FreshBox Farms, and a commercial kitchen space and incubator for developing local food businesses. The two historic houses on the property are also being redeveloped for community uses. The project is funded by a diverse mix of public and private sources, including New Markets Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits, government grants, economic and community development loans, and philanthropic capital. For more information, please visit www.swiftfactory.org ### About Community Solutions: Community Solutions (CS) supports local communities in solving urgent, complex social problems where the gaps between high costs and poor results for vulnerable people are the greatest. A national nonprofit organization based in New York City, CS brings together local innovators, committed citizens, government, businesses and nonprofits to design practical, cost-effective solutions that can be implemented, measured and spread quickly Full List of Project Partners: Developer · Community Solutions Tax Credit Equity: · US Bank · Eversource New Markets Tax Credit Allocations: · National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC) · Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC) · Boston Community Capital (BCC) Senior Permanent Loan: · Boston Community Loan Fund (BCLF) Bridge Financing: · Boston Community Loan Fund (BCLF) · Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation (MHIC) Subordinate Public Debt Financing: · The Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) · Connecticut’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DECD) Federal Grants: · U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Community Services · The Environmental Protection Agency · U.S. Economic Development Administration Philanthropic Support: · JP Morgan Chase Foundation · Cigna Foundation · Hartford Foundation for Public Giving · Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund · Travelers Foundation · Newman’s Own Foundation · Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation · DECD Brownfield Municipal Pilot Program · DECD Business Express · The Met Life Foundation · Noble Charitable Trust · The Elfenworks Foundation · Annie E. Casey Foundation · Boeringer Ingelheim · Anonymous Donor · Rx Foundation · Kresge Foundation · Swift Family Construction: · Consigli Construction · Capital Restoration Architect: · Bruner Cott
Dr. Rana Awdish speaking at the Built for Zero Conference and Learning Session
Submitted by Kristin Kellogg on
In 2008, Rana Awdish was a healthy physician about to complete her fellowship in critical care, and she was pregnant with her first child. Then, everything changed: an undetected tumor in her liver burst, causing her organs to fail, and suddenly she was fighting for her life in the very hospital where she worked.
This experience as a patient had a profound impact on Awdish, as she realized the unintentional harm that can be caused by interactions with healthcare providers.
Patrisse Cullors, Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter
Submitted by Kristin Kellogg on
Patrisse Cullors, activist, author, and the Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter, delivered a powerful keynote address at the Built for Zero Conference and Learning Session in Detroit earlier this summer. 
Cullors’ talk corresponded to one of the tracks of the conference: taking action on structural racism.