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Apartments are going up across New London County, but many remain unaffordable, experts say

With New London mayor Michael Passero (left), Ned Lamont takes in a view of New London from a terrace at The Beam apartment building April 14, 2023.
Abigail Brone
/
Connecticut Public
With New London mayor Michael Passero (left), Ned Lamont takes in a view of New London from a terrace at The Beam apartment building April 14, 2023.

The difficulties of finding affordable housing in New London County continue. Activists and housing providers say housing costs continue to rise while a slew of new apartments under construction in the area remain unaffordable for some of the region’s most at-risk residents.

“None of them can afford the apartments that are going up,” said Shanda Easley, with Thames River Community Service, a nonprofit homeless services provider.

Engineering company Electric Boat is hiring thousands in the near future, so construction of new apartment buildings is accelerating along New London County’s shoreline. The goal is to provide more housing as the area’s workforce grows.

But the new apartments are still too expensive for New London County residents already struggling to pay their rent, or for those at risk of homelessness, Easley said.

In southeastern Connecticut, rent for the average one-bedroom apartment is $1,200, up from about $800 dollars just a few years ago, according to Easley.

Affordability was one topic addressed by housing experts during a May 8 discussion of the region’s housing needs. The event was held by Connecticut Public.

The discussion also focused on the impact of housing instability on the region’s children. In New London, there are more than 300 school-aged children without homes, advocates said.

For families, children and service providers, navigating the pipeline of shelter to housing is “a daily struggle,” Easley said.

“As much as we can, we do shared housing. Get back with or mediate between their parents, their relatives,” Easley said. “Anything that we can do to try to be creative and be able to house them.”

Errol Maurice, a housing counselor for the New London area, said state lawmakers need to do more about the area’s housing affordability problem.

“Politicians need to start maybe, potentially talking about capping rent,” Maurice said.

Some residents are paying $1,800 a month for a one bedroom apartment, well above the fair market cost, Maurice said.

Housing advocates and providers need to work together to determine ways to navigate the unaffordable landscape, Maurice said.

“There are so many people that are in this field, providing various services, yet we often operate in our own silos. That is part of the problem,” Maurice said. “You may have expertise in certain things that I do not. If anything, pooling our resources together, for the citizens of southeastern Connecticut, it's very, very essential.”

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.

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