Aleena Thomas is living in her three bedroom home in Derby with one foot already out the door. Her landlord has asked her to leave. And she has every intention of doing so, but first she has to find the ideal home as a single mother of five children.
Her hopes include a four bedroom unit in New Haven county so she can stay close to her job and school, a driveway so she doesn’t have to park two blocks away from her home and a yard so her children have ample room to play.
“I'm ready to go, like I have everything packed up already. But I don't know if that's gonna even be possible because I still have not found anything,” Thomas said.
She’s been on the hunt since June and said it’s been hard even with a realtor by her side.
Surrounded by the boxes her family is currently living out of as they wait for the right unit, still in her work scrubs she scrolls through her recently viewed properties on Zillow including one in Woodbridge – where more than 50% of units have four bedrooms or more.
“I would love to live there. But they're not open to people like me,” Thomas added, referring to her identity as a Black woman.
In Woodbridge, a woody suburb of New Haven, less than 3% of residents identify as Black, compared to about 13% statewide and 34% next door in New Haven, according to census data. The median household income in Woodbridge is about $170,000 – more than double the average household income in the county – and 10% of residents are renters compared to more than half in New Haven.
Thomas said the difference between Woodbridge and a city like New Haven, makes it seem like Woodbridge could never be in reach for her.
“Every person of color is not going to make your property values go down. You know, people of color are hardworking. We do have values, we do have morals, we do have goals. So I think that they should be open to it,” Thomas said.
How one lawsuit could change housing opportunity in Connecticut towns, Camila Vallejo, Connecticut Public Radio, December 22, 2022, available here