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Coalition on Housing and Homelessness Reveals 2019 Legislative Agenda

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Today, the Coalition on Housing and Homelessness (serving Middlesex County, Meriden and Wallingford) held a breakfast to advocate for continued state support for legislation that will promote safe affordable housing for all state residents.

Following presentation of the group’s four-point agenda (please see below), a panel of Meriden/Wallingford-area candidates’ discussed their positions on affordable housing and solving homelessness, and took questions from the audience. Candidates in attendance included:

Catherine Abercrombie (House District 83) , Buddy Altobello ( House District 82), Mary Abrams (Senate District 13) , Hilda Santiago (House District 84), Liz Linehan (House District 103), Aili McKeen (Senate District 34), Lou Arata (House District 83), and Len Suzio (Senate District 13)

Candidates and audience members also heard from Wendy Brown, a local resident who knows about homelessness firsthand. Following a workplace accident she lost her job, and then her home. This affected three generations of her family and resulted in calling a car home until Columbus House of New Haven helped them get back on their feet. She told the group that she has recently been hired and that she and her family are on the way back to stability.

2018 Legislative Agenda

Thanks to past funding for the Department of Housing, as well as a new statewide coordinated network that efficiently helps place those with a housing emergency, excellent strides have been made in the last few years — placement of all homeless veterans and all chronically homeless individuals; and development of hundreds of units of affordable housing. the group noted that it is essential that these investments be preserved as the state works toward solving the growing issue of homeless youth; continuing to create thousands of more affordable housing units (Connecticut is the sixth highest housing cost nationwide); as well as strengthening legislation that facilitates affordable housing developments throughout the state.

The agenda includes:

  1. Preserve/expand funding for the CANs The state’s eight Coordinated Access Networks consist of municipal, state, and nonprofit housing resources working together to identify, assess and assign housing resources to individuals/families who experience homelessness.  CANs don’t just find places for people to sleep; they are focused on solving housing crises for the long term. They do this by efficiently addressing all the factors that can affect someone’s ability to remain housed and connecting them to other mainstream services – employment, health care, transportation, education and food.
  2. Preserve the Department of Housing The department has played a lead role in ensuring those with a housing emergency do not languish in shelters but rather have access to a variety of cost-effective, long-term housing solutions. It has also facilitated the creation of thousands of affordable housing units in the state since 2012. This is work that no single nonprofit or municipality could accomplish on its own.
  3. Remove barriers to affordable housing Developing additional affordable housing creates jobs, promotes economic growth, and allows low- to moderate-income working families to keep a roof over their heads. However, it is a very difficult process in our state. Applications for financing and permits are extraordinarily complex, and approvals can take years. There are developers willing and able to build affordable housing, but CT needs to help them rather than create roadblocks.
  4. Maintain 830-g This law states that unless 10 percent of a town’s housing stock is government-assisted or deed-restricted to remain affordable, a developer, who is willing to build housing that is affordable, can challenge the town’s failure to approve such a proposal. Many towns including Old Saybrook and Clinton have already embraced this concept and have voted in favor of affordable housing developments for working families. Affordable housing supports local economic growth and helps keep young people in Connecticut.