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.”
But after an exhaustive six-month search that brought Harvey to tears at times as she navigated a red-hot housing market and waded through a morass of red tape, Harvey was unable to find a single apartment that would accept the voucher.
On June 21, her lottery ticket expired, unused.
Days before that happened she won a spot in a housing project in Ohio, hundreds of miles away from her work and family.
“It’s unfortunate that I had to leave Connecticut in order to find affordable housing,” she said during one of her recent trips to Bridgeport for work. “Coming back here, I get sad.”
Why half of affordable housing vouchers in CT go unused: ‘A slamming door in my face’, Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, CT Insider, November 30, 2022, available here