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Connecticut advocates organize group to establish affordable housing across the state

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

A new coalition in Connecticut is advocating for affordable housing in the state.

Known as Growing Together Connecticut, they want the state General Assembly to work with them this legislative session to help them to reform zoning laws that would help create more than 300,000 new housing units over the next decade.

“Struggles in urban communities are not accidental. They are the result of a statewide housing system that concentrates resources in certain communities while alienating and restricting resources for others,” coalition member Adrienne Cochrane, CEO at the YWCA Hartford Region, said in a statement. “Equitable community investment and reinvestment is needed now, to remedy the wrongs of the past.”

This comes after a 2021 report from the state’s human rights commission that found Connecticut to be one of the most segregated states in the nation when it comes to affordable housing, income equality and urban development economic mobility.

Coalition member Yvette Melendez, the executive director of nonprofit consultant company YMR Consulting, said she sees an opportunity in working with housing advocacy groups to create affordable housing. She said clean and durable living conditions help improve people’s overall health and well-being.

“The social determinants of health are the whole range of environmental conditions, in homes, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and beyond that affect health and quality of life outcomes,” Melendez said. “There is an intrinsic connection between health and housing. It is almost impossible to be healthy without stable housing.”

Erin Boggs, executive director at the Open Communities Alliance and member of the coalition’s steering committee, said on Tuesday at the coalition’s launch that, “Housing simply costs too much, because there isn’t enough housing. And decades of disinvestment hold our cities back from reaching their promise for their residents and the state. This collective failure limits opportunity for hundreds of thousands of families.”

Among the goals included in the proposal are:

  • To determine the need for affordable housing in the state.
  • To allocate resources addressing that need in a fair way to towns, considering a town’s resources and the past contributions to generating affordable housing.
  • To create a meaningful planning structure to ensure that towns are in the driver’s seat in designing their community's strategy for reaching their affordable housing goal and to provide towns with the technical assistance they need to get there.
  • To ensure that there is a system of the kinds of incentives and enforcement necessary to actually make the system work.

Copyright 2022 WSHU. To see more, visit WSHU.

Brooke Sleavensky

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