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CT Black and Puerto Rican Caucus responds to community concerns on housing, economic opportunity

FILE, July, 2023: (From left) Gilbert Winn, CEO of WinnCompanies, invites participants to join in a groundbreaking ceremony including Seila Mosquera-Bruno, CT DOH Commissioner and Suzanne Piacentini, CT HUD Field Office Director. The event marked the start of a $55 million project to develop the Landers, Frary & Clark factories into a 154-unit apartment and affordable housing community.
Abigail Brone
/
Connecticut Public
FILE, July, 2023: (From left) Gilbert Winn, CEO of WinnCompanies, invites participants to join in a groundbreaking ceremony including Seila Mosquera-Bruno, CT DOH Commissioner and Suzanne Piacentini, CT HUD Field Office Director. The event marked the start of a $55 million project to develop the Landers, Frary & Clark factories into a 154-unit apartment and affordable housing community.

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The Hispanic community in Connecticut urgently called for legislative action on housing, health, education, and economic advancement. Their plea emerged during the recent meeting hosted by the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus of the Connecticut General Assembly, fostering discussions on crucial needs within Black and Hispanic communities.

The session lasted hours and called the attention of hundreds of public members to ensure their needs were being heard and represented. The session was transmitted online through social media and Zoom.

State Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno said she is prioritizing housing for individuals with incomes from 30% to 80% of the state's median. Over 5,000 units are in progress across the state, targeting a family of four with an income between $18,000 and $60,000 annually. In New Haven, work is pending electrical completion. Developers paused, awaiting city discussions for resolution, Mosquera said.

State Rep. Robyn Porter, D-New Haven, emphasized that the priority should be for people who are experiencing gentrification.

“They are literally being forced out because they can't afford what we're calling ‘affordable housing’ for people that are really low income, and working two and three jobs to make ends meet and to do all the other things that they have to do to support themselves and families,” Porter said.

Economic and Community Development Commissioner Daniel O'Keefe emphasized investing in inner cities for revitalization and education.

“I just think it's incredibly important to make sure that we have the flexibility in our workforce to make sure that those who are interested in some of these new-generation industries have the educational backbone, the educational underpinning, the educational opportunities available to them,” O’Keefe said.

State Sen. Patricia Billie Miller, D-Stamford, chairwoman of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, advises that the state’s economic development department should prioritize reviewing programs that equally benefit Black and Hispanic communities, as these are often overlooked.

“I would like you to go back to the drawing board and really look at your programs that benefit Black and Hispanic communities,” Miller said. “The reason we exist is because the communities we represent are usually excluded.”

The Hispanic community will continue with its agenda with the Latino and Puerto Rican Summit on Saturday, Jan. 20, in Hartford.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.