NINA is Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance, Inc. We are a non-profit community development corporation at work in the Asylum Hill neighborhood of Hartford, CT. We rehabilitate blighted historic houses as owner-occupied opportunities for low- to moderate-income households. We also build new homes on vacant lots, and we offer community development programs as a means to support the investment that our homeowners make in their new homes.
NINA was founded in 2003 by its member institutions – Aetna, The Hartford, Trinity Health Care New England (Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center), and Webster Bank – to revitalize Asylum Hill. Our mission is to eliminate blight in the neighborhood and to address the problems that blight causes: crime, lowered quality of life, and both public and private disinvestment.
Our member institutions saw a critical need for both neighborhood revitalization and blight remediation in Asylum Hill, which is also their neighborhood. They recognized that by partnering with each other they could leverage their resources to bring new development to the neighborhood. They also partner with residents, businesses, and other community stakeholders to craft a strategy for revitalization that reflects, as best as possible, the hopes of the community for an improved Asylum Hill.
NINA as a name comes from SINA, which is the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance. SINA was the model for NINA: like NINA, it was founded by its member institutions (Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford Hospital, and Trinity College) to revitalize their neighborhoods in the South End of Hartford.
The “I” is long, as in N-eye-NA. The same pronunciation applies to SINA, which is probably where we got it from.
Broadly speaking, it’s all of Hartford north of Interstate 84, which bisects Hartford across its midriff. For NINA’s purposes, it’s Asylum Hill. We preserved the term “northside” to better reflect our debt to SINA as a role model. More narrowly speaking, Hartford doesn’t have sides, it has ends – North End, South End, West End – but two of those ends are neighborhoods, so we go with sides to avoid (or create) any confusion with the neighborhoods.
A community development corporation (CDC) is a non-profit organizations that support and revitalize neighborhoods and communities, and they are typically based in the communities in which they work. Many but not all CDCs develop affordable housing, and they also offer a broad range of community development programs. Although there’s apparently no formal procedure for establishing a CDC as a CDC, CDCs are able to receive and use public funds to implement public policy in defined geographic areas, and they are accountable to public requirements on how those public dollars are spent.
Our member institutions were those Asylum Hill institutions who banded together to found NINA. They are: The Hartford, Trinity Health Care (Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center), and Webster Bank. As members, they support NINA’s operations each year, and they also contribute separately and directly to our various projects – and not only financially, but also through employee volunteers. Membership entitles them to seats on our Board of Directors. Each institution nominates an employee to serve on the Board, and the employees each have relevant skills or experience – real estate, law, government affairs, fundraising. A historical note: once upon a time, there were two other members, ING and MassMutual, but they moved on ….