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Advocates Debate Connecticut Bills Aimed At Making Fairer Affordable Housing Laws

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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Lawmakers and advocates in Connecticut are debating a set of bills meant to make more equitable laws to decide where affordable housing and development happens.

One bill would require certain amounts of affordable multi-family housing near commercial areas. Critics said it would change the character of small towns, and strip local power to set zoning laws.

State Senator Tony Hwang is a Republican from Fairfield. He’s featured in a video produced by opponents of the measures.

“It would have a devastating impact in regards to the community, the sense of neighborhood. But most important of all, consistency with what local input wants to be able to have,” Hwang said.

Hundreds of advocates for and against the proposal attended a sometimes contentious hearing that ran through the day Monday.

Luke Bronin is the mayor of Hartford and the husband of Desegregate CT founder Sara Bronin, whose group backs the platform. He said it would help the state’s economic and correct historic wrongs.

“Our state has been slow to grow, has lost population. Young people often struggle to afford homes here, older residents often struggle to stay in the community in which they long lived. And if we are being honest with ourselves, we have some of the most profound and stark disparities and segregation, both racially and socioeconomically,” Luke Bronin said.

State Senator Derek Slap is a Democrat from West Hartford. He said at Monday’s hearing the bill would undo historic segregationist housing practices.

“In Connecticut, the majority of the population is concentrated in just a handful of communities. And I would say it does not have to be this way … When done thoughtfully, zoning can connect people, not divide us,” Slap said.

A vote could come as soon as next week on the bills.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.