Open Communities Alliance - Progress and Achievements
This year OCA prioritized five “Anchor Projects” to focus our work over the next three years. Together, they offer a blueprint for generating integrated housing choices in one of the most racially, ethnically, and economically segregated states in the nation. Last year, our cutting-edge, comprehensive and replicable approach attracted enough new foundation funding to launch two exciting pilot projects in 2019. The funding includes support for an attorney and outreach director that will allow us to greatly expand our reach and impact. What these new expansion grants do not include is full support for our current core staff – that’s where we hope you will come in!
Anchor Project I: Healthy Housing Vouchers: OCA is working with a team of highly-respected research and clinical health care providers and experts at Johns Hopkins, CT Children’s Medical Center, and others on a pilot project designed to ensure that low-income families with children experiencing environmentally-triggered health conditions such as asthma, have housing choices in healthy neighborhoods. Thanks to a generous grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation, the pilot will work withhealth care providers to “prescribe” housing vouchers to Hartford families living in areas of concentrated poverty with high-risk living conditions to move to healthier housing in thriving communities. Families will be educated about the connection between environment and health and connected to new and existing supportive services and if needed, receive financial assistance to cover moving expenses and security deposit costs.
Anchor Project II: The Opportunity Data Portal: OCA is poised to establish an innovative web-based data platform that will function as an independent central-clearinghouse for organizing and consolidating timely research, housing inventory, and survey data within a strategic framework to help state and local leaders, advocates, community groups and residents address the housing needs, and related opportunity gap, of low-income households with a focus on households of color.
Anchor Project III: The Open Communities Trust (OCT): With start-up funding from CT Bar Association and Santander Bank, OCA is building an innovative non-profit subsidiary land development trust (OCT) designed to address exclusionary zoning and facilitate the creation of desirable to-scale affordable housing in high-opportunity Connecticut towns. OCT will acquire property options; advocate for zoning approval to build affordable housing, employ robust community engagement, informal and municipal advocacy and, as a last resort, litigation; and then transfer the sites to pre-identified highly respected affordable housing developers.
Anchor Project IV: Affinity Organizing and Outreach: OCA continues to promote cutting-edge, comprehensive housing policy supported by a statewide effort to organize, engage, and empower a diverse coalition of 300 people and organizations drawn from urban, suburban and rural areas to address racial and socioeconomic segregation by providing access to affordable housing in thriving communities. Equipped with definitive research studies and data demonstrating that where people live affects their access to opportunity – and particularly educational opportunities – the coalition advocates and supports projects and policies that provide low-income families, who are disproportionately of color, with genuine housing choices in thriving, high-opportunity communities.
Anchor Project V: Ongoing Housing Civil Rights Systemic Investigation, Advocacy, and Litigation: Every year OCA responds to hundreds of requests for advice and legal services from individuals and community organizations fighting unfair housing practices. We also analyze existing and proposed housing policies, provide expert testimony, and advise state and municipal policy makers about effective policies. Much of this work is quiet and behind-the-scenes, but can yield significant outcomes. It is crucial to support.
We need your support to complete these ambitious projects! Our new funding is for new initiatives and doesn’t support our core programming. Please consider a generous gift to Open Communities Alliance! We are a 501(c)(3) organization and your contribution is tax-deductible. Thank You!