When President Joe Biden took office, his administration inherited an unresolved complaint and lawsuit that civil rights attorneys filed last fall, charging that Connecticut’s housing laws — which leave most decisions to local officials — are harmful to Black and Latino residents.
Now, while U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Justice determine if the state is violating federal fair housing laws — by limiting where Section 8 housing vouchers can be used and where affordable housing can be developed — state lawmakers for the fourth consecutive year are considering whether to tackle the issue before the federal government decides whether to step in.
“While we are focused on trying to work together, time passes,” Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, said during the Housing Committee’s public hearing Thursday. Most of the seven-hour hearing was taken up by people from wealthy towns testifying against the various bills aimed at increasing the availability of affordable housing. “The way that I understand time, when it comes to issues of race in this country and in this state, [is that] the people who have the ability to wait oftentimes will think ‘Well, you know, we can do this and get it figured out over time.’ But the people who don’t have the ability to wait are suffering.”
During the campaign, Biden promised to “eliminate local and state housing regulations that perpetuate discrimination,” and during his first week in office, he signed an executive order to begin redressing housing discrimination.
“Racial inequality still permeates land-use patterns in most U.S. cities and virtually all aspects of housing markets,” the order reads.
The housing discrimination complaint against Gov. Ned Lamont puts the Biden Administration in a somewhat difficult position politically, since the governor was an early supporter of the president during the campaign and Connecticut has a progressive reputation, with Democrats controlling the legislature for 23 years and the governor’s residence for 10.
As Biden promises to tackle housing discrimination, HUD scrutinizes Connecticut’s laws, Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, CT Mirror, Feb. 19th, 2021, available here