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Sound Bites: Connecticut workers must clock in 85 hours a week to afford rent

A "For Rent" sign is displayed outside a building.
Matt Rourke
A "For Rent" sign is displayed outside a building.

Good Morning. A study finds that Connecticut minimum wage workers must work 85 hours a week to afford the rent on a two-bedroom apartment. This report comes from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), which highlighted income disparities and the lack of affordable housing not only in Connecticut, but nationwide. 

It found that nowhere in the United States can a worker earning the federal, state or local minimum wage afford a two-bedroom rental home by working the standard 40 hours a week. The study determined that nationally the hourly housing wage to afford this must be $28.58. This is four times the federal minimum wage of $7.25. In Connecticut, the housing wage is even steeper at $31.93 — the equivalent of working more than two full-time jobs at the state’s minimum wage.

The study also found that the lack of affordable housing disproportionately impacts people of color and women, which leads families to sacrifice other necessities like food, child care, transportation and healthcare. 

Here’s a bite-sized look at what else we are hearing:

Former Bridgeport cop charged with stealing seeks probation — twice. Stephen Shuck, a former lieutenant, was accused of stealing thousands of dollars in overtime. He was charged with first-degree larceny and has now applied for a pre-trial probation program for a second time. This is an accelerated rehabilitation program for nonviolent offenders. It allows him to plead guilty and be placed on up to two years’ probation. If he stays out of trouble during that probation, his charge would be dismissed.

New Haven’s Union Station now has a space for breastfeeding. The transportation hub was chosen as a spot to increase lactation spaces in the city. This was advocated for by New Haven Breast/Chestfeeding Taskforce, which aims to ensure that public places have spaces for lactating people or employees. (The group uses the term “chestfeeding” to be gender inclusive for all individuals that lactate.) Next on the list for the taskforce is to create spaces in New Haven Free Public Library and reach out to City Hall.

New York Gov. Kathy Hohul’s husband will be leaving Delaware North. William Hochul serves as senior vice president and general counsel for the Buffalo-based hospitality company, which has been controversial for the governor. She needed to remove herself from any matters that involved the company, including state negotiations to reach a new gaming contract with Seneca Nation, a competing company. Some feel Hochul’s departure due to his wife’s conflict of interest was long overdue.

A Cuomo administration health director has now been hired by CDC. Dr. Howard Zucker resigned in his role as health commissioner in 2021 after his department ordered nursing homes to accept COVID-19 positive hospital patients to help ease bed shortages in emergency rooms — then they manipulated an official report to downplay the number of nursing home deaths. Zucker has now been working as the federal agency’s deputy director for global health since January.

Four veterans sued New York’s retail marijuana licensing program. The lawsuit filed this week is not the first to challenge the state Office of Cannabis Management for prioritizing “social equity” applicants, which some argue include more than those with prior drug convictions. The four veterans argue the state failed to follow their Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act by not issuing licenses to disabled service veterans and other minority groups.

The number of children in Connecticut is declining, according to the new U.S. census estimates. The number of children under 10 years old in Connecticut dropped by nearly 3,000 between April 2020 and July 2022. Nationally, the child population has also seen a decline. Experts say there are multiple factors causing this decrease but the major deterrent for Connecticut is lack of affordable housing. Another driver is the high cost of child care.

A Nassau County legislator has proposed a “Text-to-911” initiative. Right now, residents can only access emergency services by a phone call. Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, D-Port Washington, proposed a new 911 text option would provide access to people who are deaf, have limited English proficiency or need to get help discreetly, including during an active shooter, hostage or domestic violence crisis. Suffolk County already has a text-to-911 program along with other upstate counties.

A U.S. judge rejects a challenge to Connecticut’s assault rifle ban. The state adopted an assault weapons ban after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 20 children and six educators. The National Association for Gun Rights filed a lawsuit in September, arguing the ban violated the right to bear arms, citing the Supreme Court ruling last year that expanded gun rights. The judge rejected the claims, saying the group failed to prove that assault weapons are commonly bought and used for self-defense.

The City of Danbury investigates an unauthorized entry attempt to the Mayor’s office. Councilman Joe Britton attempted to access secured areas of Danbury City Hall that he does not have authorization to on the evening of Saturday, April 15. These concerns were raised during Danbury’s quarterly security review. Britton, along with an unidentified female, entered the Office of Corporation Counsel and tried to enter the mayor's office. This week, Britton issued a statement saying that he will meet with city officials and has “nothing to hide.”

Aquaculture experts say Connecticut shellfish is not linked to the recent Vibrio cases. The state Department of Public Health issued a warning about severe Vibrio vulnificus infections after three people were hospitalized — one died. Two of the patients swam in Long Island Sound with open wounds, while the third patient consumed shellfish, but from out-of-state. Experts reassure that Connecticut shellfish are routinely monitored for Vibrio and have never been associated with the illnesses.

The Farmers' Almanac predicts an upcoming snowy winter. Central and northern New England is predicted to expect sleet and snow according to the Farmers' Almanac. The publication reports that past weather predictions have been about 80% accurate with their 2022-23 report being spot on.

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Maria Lynders is a news fellow at WSHU, working to cover Indigenous communities in southern New England and Long Island, New York.
Andrea Quiles is a fellow at WSHU.