HUD Secretary Ben Carson has not lived up to a commitment he made more than a year ago to assist Hartford tenants trapped in substandard, subsidized housing and deeply segregated, impoverished neighborhoods, federal and city officials said at a news conference Friday.
In a new letter to Carson sent Friday, U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin kept the pressure on, pointing to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “woefully insufficient” response to the deterioration of three major public housing projects in the city’s impoverished North End.
Blumenthal, Larson and Bronin also joined local tenant activists at the Vine Street headquarters of the Center for Leadership and Justice, formerly called the Christian Activities Council, to speak about the inadequacies of HUD’s process for relocating residents from the slum apartment complexes: Clay Arsenal Renaissance Apartments, Barbour Gardens and Infill. They pledged to hold HUD accountable for its role in the long downward slide of the North End, the dismal conditions hundreds of families have endured in public housing projects and the barriers many faced when they tried to move into neighborhoods and communities with more promise.
“People never should have been treated this way,” Blumenthal said. “They never should have been forced to live in moldy, unhealthy conditions without water and electricity, with walls peeling paint and doors broken, especially in the winter, windows cracked and open.”
“Landlords allowed it to happen and profited from it," he added. " ‘Slum landlord’ gives them too much credit — these guys were just bad actors, knuckleheads, dirt bags who were permitted by HUD to profit from people subjected to slum conditions."