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History Repeating Itself? New Haven Neighbors Fight To Keep Their Homes


Back in the early 2000s, a group of mostly low-income African- American families took the city of New Haven to court. They were fighting to stay in their homes which were slated for demolition in order to build a new school complex. A documentary film airing tonight on CPTV tells their story.

"My house is paid for. I’ll never have to pay another mortgage no more in life. It's not much, but its mine."

“The Hill”, directed by Lisa Molomot, takes a look at the tangled web of issues that surround urban planning, gentrification and economic renewal. The film centers on families who lived on the streets just adjacent to Yale-New Haven Hospital, and their struggle to keep their homes.

"I think of it as a story of history repeating itself."

Connecticut filmmaker Lisa Molomot.

"And I think of it as a story of fighting City Hall. And I think of it as a story about real people who live in New Haven."

The city was already known as a poster child for urban renewal. In the 1960's, New Haven demolished block after block in the Oak Street neighborhood to make way for office complexes, housing projects, a mall, and a highway connector.

"And basically the same thing has happened again with this story and I think has happened again and again and again in New Haven and across the country."

In Molmot’s film, education and city officials say this eminent domain project offers a chance to improve the lives of young children by building a school.  

"Who can argue with building a new school for children? Like it seems impossible, right? But that’s sort of what this film is about."

“The Hill” airs tonight at 10:00 on CPTV. 

Diane Orson is a special correspondent with Connecticut Public. She is a longtime reporter and contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories have been heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. Diane spent seven years as CT Public Radio's local host for Morning Edition.

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