Advocates plan affordable housing priorities for 2023 legislative session

From policy reform to requests for financial infusions, affordable housing advocates are looking at different ways to address the widespread lack of housing affordability when the state legislature convenes on Jan. 4.

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A separate coalition of more than 45 mostly nonprofit social service and advocacy groups called Growing Together Connecticut has taken up the banner of zoning reform. The group was launched earlier this year by the Hartford-based Open Communities Alliance, a group that started almost a decade ago to address racial segregation.

The new consortium brings together advocates in the realms of housing, civil rights, medicine and the faith community to push for building up existing urban communities and more affordable housing options in the suburbs.

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How one lawsuit could change housing opportunity in Connecticut towns

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.

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Lawmakers eye reforms after report finds half of affordable housing vouchers going unused in CT

Federal and state lawmakers are eyeing major reforms in response to a Hearst Connecticut Media Group investigation which revealed half of vouchers issued to help low-income residents find affordable housing in the state went unused.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, called the situation “heartbreaking” and cited how the report found a confluence of factors has fueled the problem.

“We are in kind of a perfect storm of sky-high rents, mountains of red tape, and discrimination that we need to address,” Blumenthal added. “[For voucher holders] the housing market is a maze, a labyrinth of restrictions and rules. We need to deal with some of the root causes of these problems.”

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Advocates say CT needs over 137,000 affordable housing units. They want it fairly allocated to more towns.

Jahaira Vega said she was in shock when she received an eviction notice from her landlord requiring her and her two daughters to leave their apartment after 16 years of living in West Hartford.

She knew the landlord was upset with her for reporting heating and electrical issues in her apartment, but Vega said she never imagined having to relocate her family to another home.

It is stories such as Vega’s that prompted the Growing Together Connecticut coalition of 38 local organizations to hold a briefing to address the high cost of housing within the state and call for change.

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Housing advocacy group announces priorities for legislative session

The upcoming legislative session is likely to bring a new effort to pass meaningful zoning reforms, according to advocates for a fund that rewards towns that create affordable housing and eviction protections for tenants.

Growing Together Connecticut, a consortium of about 45 advocacy groups, faith leaders and housing experts, held a press conference Tuesday to announce their proposals for several housing-related measures they want to see lawmakers take up. The proposals included another attempt to pass what’s called a “fair share” law, which would require towns to plan and zone for more affordable housing based on the needs of the region and not just within their borders.

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Why everyone in CT should care about affordable housing and 8-30g

There are affordable housing units built in towns across Connecticut, often amid controversy and despite some public outcry.

The arguments against affordable housing often center around a town’s right to self-determination, to define the look, feel and character of a community, without interference from state officials.

Advocates say affordable housing is an economic imperative, and that racism and classism are often undercurrents beneath opposition to new developments.

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Town After Town, Residents Are Fighting Affordable Housing in Connecticut

In the town of Fairfield, Conn., nearly 2,400 residents have signed a petition opposing a project proposed for downtown that could bring 19 units of affordable housing.

In nearby New Canaan, homeowners have raised about $84,000 for a legal fund to fight a proposed apartment complex downtown on Weed Street that would include 31 rent-restricted units for households with moderate incomes.

And in Greenwich, a developer recently withdrew an application to build a project that would include 58 apartments priced below market rate, after residents living in nearby luxury condominiums objected and said the buildings that would be demolished were historically significant.

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Editorial: A needed push against exclusionary zoning in CT

The resistance among Connecticut’s wealthier suburbs toward state action on affordable housing often comes down to a pleading for the state tradition of local control. Don’t force action on us, these towns say. We know best how to handle it, and we will work out our own solutions.

The problem is that those solutions have not been forthcoming. Absent a push from the state, towns have been all too successful at building a wall around themselves and keeping out anyone not wealthy enough to buy their way in. These towns have worked to hoard the resources for the best-equipped school districts and leave less desirable elements for other communities to handle.

It’s inequitable and damaging, to the towns themselves and to the state in general.

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Lawsuit claims Woodbridge zoning policy violates housing laws

A group of attorneys and housing advocates filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the town of Woodbridge alleging its zoning policies violate the state’s Fair Housing Act and portions of the state constitution by restricting the number of multi-family units that can be built.

The lawsuit is a move advocates believe could have far-reaching implications on state and national housing and zoning policy by building a model for other communities to push back on restrictive zoning policies. The plaintiffs want the town to plan and zone for its “fair share” of affordable housing, a policy housing advocates pushed for during the last legislative session.

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Advocates Sue Woodbridge Over Zoning

A coalition of affordable housing advocates filed suit in New Haven Tuesday against the town of Woodbridge over zoning regulations that prevent multi-family housing in the vast majority of the town.

The fair housing advocacy organization Open Communities Trust, the Stamford-based affordable housing developer Garden Homes Fund, an affiliate LLC of those organizations, and two Woodbridge residents are filing the lawsuit against the town.

The plaintiffs are charging that the town’s restrictions against homes with more than two units violate the Connecticut Zoning Enabling Act, the Connecticut Fair Housing Act, and the state constitution.

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  • Open Communities Alliance
  • 75 Charter Oak Avenue
  • Suite 1-200
  • Hartford, CT 06106
  • Phone: 860-610-6040