To end 'discriminatory and segregating policies', Civil rights group pushes zoning change in Woodbridge

For resident Matt McDermott, it is time for the town “to take stock” of how its zoning rules have impacted housing and what that has meant for the region.

McDermott spoke as the Plan and Zoning Commission aired a proposal to modify its land use policies to allow for higher density, affordable housing stock.

The hearing drew some support for the proposed change.

“Over the last 80 years, we have only sought to increase our lot sizes,” said McDermott.

“Now is a moment in time for us to take stock of what this has done to our community,” he said. “Our zoning has locked in racial and economic privilege.”

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Suburban Zoning Debate Gets Personal

A high school senior, a septuagenarian social worker, a military veteran, and a recent immigrant from Latin America reached into their pasts to buttress arguments for and against allowing more multi-family affordable housing in the leafy New Haven suburb of Woodbridge.

They were among 16 Woodbridge residents who testified Monday night during an hour-long special meeting of the Woodbridge Town Planning & Zoning Commission.

The sole subject of the online special public hearing was a two-pronged proposal submitted by civil-rights attorneys and law students looking to make it easier for developers to build multi-family affordable housing in Woodbridge.

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Does ‘snob zoning’ lead to segregated suburbs in CT?

When it came time sell this particular 5-bedroom home in Woodbridge, located on a 1.5 acre lot studded with trees, the realtor pitched the house to prospective buyers with these inducements: “Location, location, location,” the ad proclaimed, adding that the “expansive home” has a floor plan capable of “accommodating anyone and everyone.”

The property – located just off the route taken by local politicians and residents as they marched over the summer chanting “Black Lives Matter” and toting signs that read “End White Silence” – is now at the center of a controversial proposal that challenges the town’s so-called “snob zoning,” which civil rights attorneys argue keeps Woodbridge segregated.

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City, ‘Burb Clash On Open-Housing Quest

Civil-rights speakers threw down the gauntlet: “Snob” Woodbridge promotes segregation through exclusionary zoning.

Woodbridgers pushed back: “Elitist” interlopers have no business labeling their liberal ‘burb racist and trying to change their zoning laws.

That debate — the latest chapter in an ongoing quest to address affordable housing and racial segregation regionally rather than community-by-community — played out Monday night during a special meeting of the Woodbridge Town Planning & Zoning Commission. The nearly three-hour public hearing was held online on YouTube Live.

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Hartford Tenant Lawsuit Alleges HUD Violated Fair Housing Act

A group of former residents from Hartford’s North End is taking on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Center for Leadership and Justice filed suit on their behalf Wednesday, claiming that HUD failed to reduce segregation when giving them options for new housing.

Tenants endured black mold hanging from the ceiling. Mothers watched mice run through their children’s cribs on the baby monitor. These were among the claims detailed by members of the groups filing the suit outside Barbour Garden Apartments Wednesday.

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Federal lawsuit accuses HUD Secretary Ben Carson, the City of Hartford and local housing authorities of housing discrimination

Residents of subsidized housing in Hartford sued the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development Wednesday for violating the Fair Housing Act when it failed to move families to less racially concentrated communities outside of the city.

“Although HUD has a duty to counteract segregation in Hartford, it has instead perpetuated segregation there,” the suit alleges. “Rather than making subsidized housing available to low-income families in places like Farmington or Glastonbury, HUD has disproportionately placed developments in North Hartford and other racially concentrated areas.”

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HUD ‘perpetuating segregation,’ Hartford families claim in lawsuit

For years, Marina Ilarraza’s family lived in a government-subsidized apartment in Hartford’s North End where mold adorned the shower, the windows wouldn’t shut, the heat worked sporadically and the water ran brown.

In the basement, a sewage backup left behind fleas and rotting cats. Drug violence in the neighborhood often prevented her children from playing outside.

She wanted out but had few options – until 2019, when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ended the last of its contracts with the landlords of the Ilarrazas’ apartment and two others in the city because of the deplorable conditions inside.

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CT’s balkanized housing laws are the subject of a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration

A coalition of state and national civil rights groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in federal court on Thursday, claiming that a new Trump administration rule will make it much more difficult to challenge unfair housing practices in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

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New federal rule will make it harder to challenge discrimination in the housing industry, lawsuits allege

Civil rights groups on Thursday filed a pair of lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and HUD Secretary Ben Carson for weakening an Obama-era rule meant to keep lenders, landlords and insurers from discriminating.

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Civil rights attorneys take aim at single-family zoning using Woodbridge as test case

Attorneys from the Open Communities Alliance, joined by law students and professors at a fair housing development clinic at Yale Law School, are asking Woodbridge’s Planning and Zoning Commission to approve their application to build a four-unit house on a 1.5 acre lot that is zoned for a single-family home – and, more importantly, to completely overhaul local zoning regulations to allow the town’s “fair share” of affordable housing to be built. The application is different from a typical zoning application in that it focuses almost entirely on the need for a systemic overhaul of the town’s “exclusionary” zoning regulations, as opposed to seeking approval to break ground on a single project.

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