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Elicker introduces New Haven city ordinance to recognize tenants' union

Ebong Udoma

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker has proposed a city ordinance to recognize a public tenants’ union.

The union would allow renters to participate in the city’s Fair Rent Commission, which plans to evaluate potential rent increases and property conditions in New Haven.

Elicker said the ordinance would set a precedent for safe and fair housing.

“Tenants, individually, they have power,” Elicker said. “But as a group, they have way more power. And by facilitating that group, communicating with each other and having some kind of legal definition and legal authority, it can dramatically improve not only the situation for those tenants, but for other multi-unit properties across the city.”

Elicker said the city has been making changes to make sure housing is inclusive and safe.

“Affordable housing in my view doesn't mean any housing,” Elicker said. “It means affordable safe housing. Housing that doesn't provide a comfortable, safe environment for someone is unethical and not appropriate in our strong view as a city.”

The city has already required developers to make a percentage of their property available for affordable housing. Improvements were also made to the city’s inspection process to prevent lead poisoning.

According to Elicker's office, the proposed ordinance is thought to be the first of its kind in Connecticut. If passed, it would extend to over 10,000 housing units in the city. The proposal is being reviewed by the city Board of Alders.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.