Town After Town, Residents Are Fighting Affordable Housing in Connecticut

Lisa Prevost | New York Times

In the town of Fairfield, Conn., nearly 2,400 residents have signed a petition opposing a project proposed for downtown that could bring 19 units of affordable housing.

In nearby New Canaan, homeowners have raised about $84,000 for a legal fund to fight a proposed apartment complex downtown on Weed Street that would include 31 rent-restricted units for households with moderate incomes.

And in Greenwich, a developer recently withdrew an application to build a project that would include 58 apartments priced below market rate, after residents living in nearby luxury condominiums objected and said the buildings that would be demolished were historically significant.

Throughout Fairfield County, Conn., local residents and elected officials are seeking to block large housing projects that include units affordable to low- and moderate-income households, warning that the increased density could change the character of their towns. The 32-year-old law that enables such projects has always generated some pushback, but the opposition has grown more fierce as the number of proposals has increased in recent years.

The fervent campaigns against housing applications reflect a battle that has engulfed the state, town by town. Last week, a group led by the Open Communities Alliance announced that it would file a civil rights lawsuit against the town of Woodbridge, saying that the town’s zoning regulations, which sharply restrict multifamily housing, violated the state Fair Housing Act, state zoning laws and the state Constitution.

The restrictive zoning “disparately harms Black and Latino households, and deepens economic and racial segregation in the area,” said Erin Boggs, the alliance’s executive director, in a statement.


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