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Connecticut housing advocates push for more transit oriented development

Jeff Roberson

A Connecticut human rights commission held the state’s first conference on ways to build a more livable place for its residents. Housing advocates said they will push lawmakers to support more transit-oriented development next year, despite possible pushback from suburban communities.

They said multi-family, transit-oriented housing would help desegregate some of Connecticut’s wealthy suburban communities.

Pete Harrison, senior policy fellow at Desegregate CT, said state help is needed to get suburban communities like those located along the Metro-North rail corridor to change decades of local zoning laws that have promoted single family homes.

“Towns that have this kind of public resource really need to do more to create more housing around that. So that’s going to be one of our focuses going into the legislative session this coming year,” he said.

Housing segregation is a huge problem, with two thirds of the Black and Latino population living in just 15 of the state's 169 towns, said Roger Maldonado, an attorney at Open Communities Alliance.

Maldonado said the state should help and be more flexible about how low-income residents can use housing vouchers.

So that vouchers can be used not just within currently hyper segregated municipal contexts where there is an overconcentration of voucher holders, but can be used more robustly throughout the state,” he said.

The advocates said the state also has a racial disparity in wealth with the average Black family having about 10% of the wealth of a white family, and a Hispanic family having about 12%.

The inaugural Connecticut Human Rights and Opportunities Conference was organized by the state’s Human Rights and Opportunities Commission and the state’s Commission on Women, Children, and Seniors.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.