[Excerpt from article by Ali Oshinskie, CT Public Radio]
Affordable housing is the subject of a number of bills in Connecticut right now. But what do we really mean when we talk about "affordable housing"?
That conversation could start with a question much like the one asked by State Senator Dan Champagne at a virtual Planning and Development public hearing last week.
"Do you know how many affordable housing units exist in Connecticut?" Champagne asked of Sara Bronin. Bronin is a lawyer, professor and the lead organizer of Desegregate CT, a group of organizations started in the wake of racial justice protests last summer focused on addressing segregation through land use laws.
SoliDarity co-founder, James Keitt says his current search for an apartment demonstrates how Black residents are effectively barred from some communities.
“[Landlords] want you to make three times the rent, but knowing there’s income disparity in Connecticut,” Keitt said, “it’s almost like it’s systematically implied that they don’t want us.”
Keitt added that housing is a bigger expense for people of color in Connecticut, making it harder to save for a mortgage or just stay afloat.
More than a quarter of Black and Latinx households in the state have to pay half of what they make towards housing, while fourteen percent of white households pay that much, according to DataHaven.
Quinnipiac law professor Marjorie Shansky said that Connecticut doesn’t have a good diversity of housing. There’s a lack of more affordable options like two and three family homes, condos and in-law apartments.
Many approaches are needed to extricate the economic and racial exclusion inherent in housing right now, according to Shansky. And zoning reform, she says, is a good place to start.