The saddest part of the housing controversy facing Woodbridge and its residents — the likelihood it will be sued if it rejects a small, affordable housing project on a single-family lot — is that it didn’t have to happen.
The most hopeful part? It still doesn’t.
The jam Woodbridge has gotten itself into — allowing virtually no housing for the folks who cut their lawns, make their lattes, care for their elderly parents, teach their children — is a jam lots of Connecticut towns could soon face.
Dozens of municipalities don’t allow multifamily housing: apartments, condos, and technically, more than one unit on a parcel — and dozens more use their zoning regulations and purposely don’t provide water and sewer infrastructure to severely limit the less expensive homes many people need.
By doing so, Woodbridge and most towns keep housing prices high and, therefore, keep the working-class households out. Sure, you can come to town to fix our streets and collect our refuse and do all those other chores we need done, but please be gone by sundown.
It’s a story of segregation replayed by many wealthy suburbs that surround our small, beleaguered cities. The question is whether the residents who’ve created no homes for those who they depend upon — people who do important jobs but just don’t get paid that much — are motivated by racism and a fear of “the other,” as some claim, or are simply thoughtless, negligent and too wrapped up in themselves to care about others.
I was first asked to talk to Woodbridge officials and residents a decade ago. So I know the residents include thoughtful households who do care. Ditto for the folks living in more than 100 Connecticut towns I’ve helped since 2003 with tools and strategies to expand their array of housing options.
The tragedy: too few care. They’ve got the house and school system they need and are simply not inclined to consider the needs of others.
Opinion: Housing segregation in Woodbridge echoes a pattern of inequality across the state; not enough people care, David Fink, Hartford Courant, May 9, 2021, available here