Growing Together CT Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
CONTACT: Roy Occhiogrosso
GROWING TOGETHER CT, NEW HOUSING JUSTICE & EQUITABLE REINVESTMENT MOVEMENT, LAUNCHES EFFORT FOR FAIR SHARE HOUSING REFORM AND URBAN REVITALIZATION
HARTFORD – A new movement to create growth, opportunity, and justice in housing and beyond all across Connecticut launched a multi-year effort today. Growing Together CT outlined plans at a virtual launch event to enact Fair Share housing and zoning reforms and make a transformative investment in Connecticut’s urban centers. The state-wide effort includes housing advocates, non-profit leaders, civil rights experts, hundreds of community members, housing developers, medical professionals, faith leaders, congregations, and more.
“We’re all proud that Connecticut is our home, and that means we need to squarely address our challenges. Our state is in the midst of a complex housing crisis. Housing simply costs too much, because
there isn’t enough housing. And decades of disinvestment hold our cities back from reaching their promise for their residents and the state. This collective failure limits opportunity for hundreds of thousands of families,” said Erin Boggs, Executive Director of Open Communities Alliance, a member of the Steering Committee of Growing Together CT.
“Our movement has a two-part solution,” Greg Kirschner, Legal Director of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center added. “Equitable zoning reform will empower local communities to decide how to build the housing our state desperately needs while generating more than $70 billion in economic growth and creating more than 80,000 jobs over 10 years. At the same time, we are committed to a transformative
investment in our urban areas, which are the engines of growth and opportunity for the entire state.”
“Though our urban areas are the population, innovation, business, and opportunity centers of our state, for decades state policy has neglected or harmed them,” said Karen DuBois-Walton, Executive Director of Elm City Communities, the Housing Authority of the City of New Haven and newly-announced
Chairwoman of the Connecticut State Board of Education. “Hundreds of thousands of families choose to live in cities because they love the atmosphere, amenities, excitement, cultural vibrancy, and possibilities
of urban life. But they didn’t choose to be limited by disinvestment that can limit opportunities to thrive. As a state, we must do better by our cities and their communities.”
At the launch, Growing Together CT announced a series of community engagement and listening sessions designed to gather input and direct a policy proposal to be introduced as a bill in the 2023 legislative session. “Struggles in urban communities are not accidental. They are the result of a statewide housing system that concentrates resources in certain communities while alienating and restricting resources for others. Equitable community investment and reinvestment is needed now to remedy the wrongs of the past,” added Adrienne Cochrane of the YWCA of Hartford.
The movement announced a bill raised by the Housing Committee of the Legislature which would implement a new approach to planning and zoning in the state. Such a plan, based on the success of a similar policy in New Jersey, would direct the Office of Policy and Management to ascertain the statewide housing need, allocate it to regions and towns, and then empower local communities to plan for, zone, and encourage the development of housing that meets the need while protecting the environment and honoring community input. Conservative estimates suggest effective Fair Share planning could generate up to 300,000 new housing units over ten years, drive economic growth, attract businesses, lower rents, and ease displacement pressures on families all across the state.
Speakers at the event, which included House Majority Leader Jason Rojas of East Hartford, Karen Dubois-Walton of Elm City Communities, New Haven’s housing authority, Rev. Ron J. Kolanowski of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Hebron, Yvette Melendez who has held a variety of positions in the health, business, education, and philanthropy sectors in the state, Adrienne Cochrane of the
YWCA of Hartford, Estela Lopez a former educator and former member of the State Board of Education, and Erin Boggs of Open Communities Alliance, will discuss the positive impact of deep structural reforms to the state’s planning and zoning laws and equitable revitalization could have on many sectors of public life in Connecticut.
“We know that stable, decent, and hazard-free housing is an extremely important determinant of overall health. People who have stable homes are much more likely to be healthier,” said Yvette Melendez, former hospital executive and President of YMR Consulting “Unfortunately, our current housing policy has contributed to a statewide housing crisis. We need to do better. Thriving, healthy lives begin
with stable homes, and Growing Together CT’s dual proposals will make a difference in a wide range of important facets of community life, including health.”
“The Bible teaches us to clothe the poor, feed the hungry, and house the needy,” said Rev. Ron J.
Kolanowski. “Orienting our public policy towards affordable, safe, decent, and secure housing is in line with my understanding of the commandment to love thy neighbor. Our law should be a reflection of our care for each other. I see that care reflected in this pair of impactful policy proposals. As the Bible says at
Isaiah 54:2-3, now is the time for Connecticut to ‘Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.’”
Growing Together CT is building a grassroots movement for justice, growth, and opportunity across the state. Through a pair of interconnected, impactful policy interventions, effective public policy can address our state’s growing housing crisis while creating jobs, generating an economic windfall, countering systemic racism, and expanding opportunity. The dual policies of Fair Share Housing and Revitalization are the right thing and the smart thing for Connecticut. Growing Together Connecticut’s Steering Committee includes Open Communities Alliance, the Hispanic Federation, the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, ConnCAN, and the Commission on
Human Rights and Opportunities. Members include the Christian Community Action, CT Coalition to End Homelessness, the Commission for Children, Women, and Seniors, the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association, the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Connecticut Voices for Children, Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, Elm City Communities (the New Haven Housing Authority), Fairfield County Center for Housing Opportunity, Garden Homes, Habitat for Humanity - Hartford, Hebron CoDE, Journey Home, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the Middlesex Coalition for Children, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Initiative - Glastonbury, Mothers and Others for Justice, Partnership for Strong Communities, Southend Institutions Neighborhood Alliance, TALK - Glastonbury, Tyche Planning and Policy Group, Working Families Party - CT, and the YWCA - Hartford.