'Growing Together CT' Aims at State's Affordable Housing Crisis

Emily Scott | Public Service News | Feb. 23, 2022

A new alliance has formed to address Connecticut's affordable housing crisis, with a focus on its urban centers.

"Growing Together Connecticut" is a multi-year effort to pass housing laws and reforms that confront discriminatory policies, like redlining, that have led to disinvestment in cities.

One way to do that is through "fair-share" policies, that require cities to plan and zone for an adequate amount of affordable housing, based on need.

Erin Boggs - executive director of Open Communities Alliance, a coalition member - said these policies would make Connecticut a stronger state.

"We have many communities in the state that we have assessed as very low opportunity," said Boggs. "We want to change that, and we want to make sure that opportunity is available in an equal way across the state."

New Jersey has had fair-share policies in place for decades. Opponents have said they're burdensome for towns and cities and can be difficult to enforce.

Boggs said the coalition will soon launch a months-long listening session statewide, and will use the results to draft policy proposals for the 2023 legislative session.

Karen DuBois-Walton is the president of Elm City Communities - New Haven's housing authority, which serves six-thousand families a year.

She said their waitlist, which includes families with current addresses in surrounding towns, is a snapshot of the lack of affordable housing. She added certain housing policies have played a role in allowing only some Connecticut communities to build wealth.

"And knowing that wealth is so much tied to ownership of homes, Growing Together Connecticut really brings those two pieces together," said DuBois-Walton. "How are we going to get access to affordable housing in suburban communities? And how are we going to make our cities the most vibrant places they can be also, in our state?"

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