‘I want to give up’: Inside CT residents’ struggles to use affordable housing vouchers
Across Connecticut, thousands of government-subsidized affordable housing vouchers have gone unused in recent years, a Hearst Connecticut Media Group investigation found.
Residents who’ve won lotteries for the vouchers, in some cases after waiting years, often find themselves mired in government red-tape and restrictions.
The problem has worsened since the pandemic, with many voucher recipients finding themselves outmatched as they compete in a red hot housing market.Read more
Why half of affordable housing vouchers in CT go unused: ‘A slamming door in my face’
Just days before Christmas, LaResse Harvey received the gift of a lifetime.
After spending two years on a waiting list, she received a call from the Bristol Housing Authority notifying her she had won the lottery for a government-subsidized housing voucher for low-income families. The voucher would cover a significant portion of her rent, allowing her to afford a place ranging from $1,089 to $1,144 per month, depending on the location.
Finally, she’d be able to rid herself of the constant anxiety of how she would come up with enough money for rent each month. She imagined never again being stuck in an unhealthy relationship because she couldn’t afford a place on her own. She was thrilled she would soon not have to sleep on her sister’s couch or in her SUV at highway rest stops.
“I was so excited,” Harvey said. “I go online. I start looking for an apartment.”Read more
Zoning, Housing Regulation, And America’s Racial Inequality
The Biden White House has been publicizing America’s new Juneteenth federal holiday, celebrating the end of Black slavery and the ongoing struggle for real Black independence and equality. One of the White House’s announcements may have puzzled some people: “Exclusionary Zoning: Its Effect on Racial Discrimination in the Housing Market.”
Zoning? We might understand protecting and expanding voting rights, fighting employment discrimination, or attacking white supremacist organizations (all of which the Administration is doing.). But why highlight housing and zoning policy?
Biden’s people know what they’re talking about. America’s housing and zoning policies are riddled with systemic racism. And that continuing racism feeds long-term and ongoing negative impacts on Black incomes, wealth, and equality. Whites are much more likely to inherit wealth than Blacks, and much of that inherited wealth comes from housing equity.Read more
No children allowed. Are wealthy CT towns building elderly housing to keep out poor families?
“We kind of held the place together for a long time with duct tape and bubble gum,” said Doug Denes, who served on the board of the Branford Housing Authority for more than two decades, including as chairman, until 2019.
Attempts over the past nine years to raze and replace the three deteriorating buildings have all failed, however, because of local opposition to the housing authority’s plan to lift the age restriction for the complex. Instead of housing 39 older residents, the new complex would accommodate 126 people of all ages, including families.
Some residents and elected officials in Branford, an affluent shoreline town near New Haven, have reacted with hostility to the plan, saying it would spoil the character of the community and attract undesirable people.Read more
CT’s civil rights enforcement agency: segregation has ‘particularly deadly effect’ amid pandemic
The Connecticut watchdog agency tasked with enforcing the state’s anti-discrimination laws on Monday will lay out the role segregation is playing to disproportionately kill Black and Latino residents during the pandemic.
“Connecticut is one of the most racially segregated states in the nation,” is how the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities begins its 51-page report. “Segregation born of zoning policies has had a particularly deadly effect during the COVID-19 pandemic. … The effects of segregation cannot only be measured in municipal demographics or statistics of income inequality, but in lives lost.”Read more
The Historical Reasons Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Gap
The average White household in the U.S. today has amassed about seven times more wealth than the average Black household. The disparity widened in the half-century since the civil rights movement, despite a wave of laws protecting against racial discrimination at work, in housing and other economic realms. A wave of protests in U.S. cities last year provoked by police killings of Black citizens, including George Floyd on May 25, raised awareness of the history of what academics call systemic racism. Since then, two cities have voted to make reparations for past discrimination, President Joe Biden has supported the idea of studying wider reparations for slavery, and the Federal Reserve and a number of leading private banks have pledged to do more to address racial inequality.Read more
How Chicago's affordable housing system perpetuates city's long history of segregation
Government-backed affordable housing in Chicago has largely been confined to majority-Black neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty over the last two decades, a design that has perpetuated the city's long history of segregation.
As the neighborhoods faced rising divestment, gun violence and food deserts, the lack of affordable housing in other parts of the city restricted many people of color from leaving.
But now, using its largest pot of federal housing funding, Chicago wants to chart a corrective path by aggressively pushing for more affordable homes in high-income, well-resourced areas, which housing experts say would unlock previously unavailable opportunities for communities of color.Read more
Hugh Bailey: The inescapable question of race in affordable housing proposals
The ongoing drive to reform land use in Connecticut may not succeed. Bringing the issue to the forefront has energized opponents as well as supporters, and since the Connecticut suburbs typically get what they want, the chances of nothing happening are significant.
But it’s been useful nonetheless in illuminating one of the state’s most deeply rooted problems and exposing attitudes that seem stuck in amber from an earlier age.
Regardless of what happens with specific bills, the state has a long way to go to achieve equity. But at least we can more clearly see where the stumbling blocks lie. And we can maybe talk more honestly about the disparities between communities that are clear to anyone who looks, even as we seem unable to solve them, or unwilling.Read more
If ‘Housing Is a Right,’ How Do We Make It Happen?
“Housing is a right in America,” President Biden said last month as he signed an executive order promising to address racial discrimination and inequality in housing. On Tuesday, the administration announced an extension of the federal foreclosure moratorium through the end of June.
While this temporary measure is a necessary Band-Aid on a gaping economic wound, housing is not yet a right in this country — far from it. Mr. Biden’s emphasis on redressing racial inequity in housing provides a welcome contrast, though, to the long history of the federal government’s housing policies, which created barriers to safe, affordable housing in all 50 states, especially for communities of color.Read more
U.S. cities segregated not just by where people live, but where they travel daily
Using data collected between 2013 and 2015 from Twitter — where millions of urban Americans leave behind valuable clues about where they eat lunch, work out and socialize each time they post a tweet — Candipan and her colleagues developed what they called a Segregated Mobility Index, or SMI, for each of 50 cities in the U.S. Candipan explained that each city scored somewhere between 0 and 1 on the SMI. If a city were to score 0, it would indicate total interconnectedness, with residents regularly visiting neighborhoods that don’t resemble the racial and ethnic composition of their own with a frequency that corresponds with the diversity of the city. If a city were to score 1, it would indicate total racial segregation, with residents failing to visit any neighborhood that doesn’t resemble the racial makeup of their own.Read more