Housing and Homelessness | Connecticut Public Radio
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Housing and Homelessness

Housing issues affect everyone in Connecticut, from those who are searching for a safe place to live, to those who may find it increasingly difficult to afford a place they already call home.

With generous support from the Melville Charitable Trust, WNPR and Susan Campbell are covering Connecticut's housing and homelessness issues in a series that examines how residents are handling the challenges they face. We look at the trends that matter most right now, and tell stories that help bring the issues to light.

Contact Susan by email at slcampbell417 at gmail.com.

Fair housing advocates are celebrating a victory. They recently won a settlement from a Hartford-area landlord who allegedly denied apartments to people using public assistance to pay their rent. WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports. The Connecticut Fair Housing Center claimed the landlord, Paul Rosow, discriminated against people who received disability checks and housing assistance.

Susan Campbell

The Hartford Homeless Outreach Team heads out every Thursday to check-in on Hartford's homeless population and hand out lunches. They go out early before the homeless leave their makeshift abodes for the day.

UI/Energize Connecticut

Global Jet, Creative Commons

Driving through downtown Hartford, you’ll see a lot of empty storefronts, plenty of parking garages, and some impressive high rises. And while the city has a hard time getting businesses to fill the office space - now at 26% vacancy -- developers can’t build housing fast enough to meet demand.

In fact, several of those old office buildings are being retrofitted for new housing. So people are voting for downtown housing with their dollars, but is there enough retail to keep feet on the street?

Photo by Lucy Nalpathanchil

It's been five months since 16 homeless veterans moved into permanent supportive housing thanks to the American Legion Post in southeastern Connecticut. The Jewett City Post renovated its own building to create the apartments. The project was funding by the federal VA with help from private donations, Second district Congressman Joe Courtney, and the state of Connecticut.

This past summer, WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil introduced us to one of the new tenants, an Army veteran. She visited him recently as he prepares for his first Christmas inside his own place.

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

The last of Hartford's post-war, barracks style federal public housing has come down.  And now, the city's housing authority is building something new in its place. 

A few years back, the Hartford Housing Authority started relocating the people who lived at Nelton Court. Then, last year, the authority started knocking the place down.  The housing authority says Nelton Court was beyond its useful life.  And it housed too many people in too small a place.  

Harriet Jones

There are widespread reports of the resurrection of the housing market. National data due out this week are expected to show a bump in sales of both existing and new homes. But for the small businesses supported by the industry, it’s been a long slow journey out of the deepest housing slump in a generation. 

This month, more than a dozen homeless veterans will finally have a place to call their own, thanks to the American Legion.

The organization's post in a small Connecticut town has been working for a decade on a unique project to create not transitional but permanent supportive housing in their rural community.

For 55-year-old Army veteran Jeff MacDonald, the new facility in Jewett City, Conn., was like "winning the lottery."

Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

Originally aired on NPR's "All Things Considered"

This month, more than a dozen homeless veterans will finally have a place to call their own thanks to the American Legion. A local Post in a small Connecticut town has been working for a decade on a unique project to create not transitional, but permanent supportive housing in their rural community. 

Neena Satija

Developers are taking advantage of a down economy to build more affordable housing. It’s happening even in the small-town suburbs of Connecticut, where people are forgoing the big country home for smaller, more energy-efficient houses or rental apartments. In the small Danbury suburb of Ridgefield,  not everyone is happy about the changes.

Photo by Lucy Nalpathanchil

An American Legion post in Jewett City has dedicated the last decade to raising money so it could help homeless veterans. On Monday, hundreds of Griswold residents turned out to celebrate the project's completion. Post 15 renovated its building so to provide 18 apartments to veterans who need housing.

Fighting Urban Blight

Jun 12, 2012
Diane Orson / Connecticut Public Radio

Urban blight can have an insidious impact on a local community - socially, economically and environmentally. New Haven has just acquired its first vacant property under an anti-blight ordinance.

"It's been a place for people to go and get high, a place for people who don’t have anywhere to live to sleep."

Joanne Kelly is walking back to her home, a few houses away from an abandoned property on Clay Street in the Fair Haven section of New Haven.

Former alderman Joe Rodriguez says city workers came here early this morning to clean the place up.

U.S. Army photo bt Sgt. Jerry Saslav, Massachusetts National Gua

We come to rely on our communities being a certain way. A disaster can change all that.

It can take the form of a tornado. That’s what happened one year ago in Joplin Missouri - a city that was nearly wiped out - with 160 of its residents killed.

Lauren Wellicome, Creative Commons

Fair housing advocates say that “integrated” communities with various racial, ethnic and economic groups are the key to prosperity.  

In fact, administration officials says that President Obama has the “desire to see a fully integrated society.”  

JeffreyTurner, Creative Commons

The housing crisis that has cost millions of Americans their homes.  In fact, banks have foreclosed on more than 4 million homes since the crisis began in 2007. Almost 6 million are still in danger of foreclosure, and some analysts say 2012 could be the worst year yet.

Courtesy of South Park Inn

This month, the federal government awarded the state $1.46 million dollars from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development and the VA. The grants are known as HUD VASH and they're used to help veterans avoid homelessness.

The housing voucher program has existed for four years. Since then more than 400 vouchers were allocated to housing authorities across the state to help chronically homeless veterans, including women veterans with children.

A vacant 26-story office tower in downtown Hartford may get a new life. A Fairfield developer has plans before the city to turn the old Bank of America building into nearly 300 apartments. The project is in the early stages, and the city says there's no public or private financing committed to it yet. But it's worth noting the ambition -- the building at 777 Main Street has nothing happening inside of it, and developer Bruce Becker has an idea: He wants to build 286 apartments and a bunch of retail space near Hartford's State House Square.

Flickr Creative Commons, stevendamron

Let's say you're married. You have a dog. Your first child is on the way, but it's 2012 and the economy's not doing so hot and you're living in your parent's basement.

You have to get out, that's for sure. So what do you do? Do you buy a house or do you buy a rental?

Low-Income Renters Struggle to Find Housing

Feb 24, 2012

Home values continue to fall, and yet housing is becoming increasingly difficult to afford. As WNPR’s Neena Satija reports, a new study from the Center for Housing Policy shows the situation is particularly dire in Connecticut.

In 2010, nearly a quarter of all working households suffered from what’s called a “severe housing cost burden.” That means more than 50 percent of households' income goes toward housing. The problem is worst for people who are renting. Megan Bolton is a senior research analyst at the National Low-Income Housing Coalition.

Connecting Housing Policy with Education Policy

Feb 20, 2012

As Governor Dannel Malloy prepares for a legislative session focused on education, many say the General Assembly needs to address other inequities, such as housing, in order to truly close the achievement gap. WNPR’s Neena Satija reports.

The General Assembly reconvenes later this week for a session that looks to be jam-packed with issues. The state’s largest business organization says lawmakers will have a difficult balancing act. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

davco9200, creative commons

Courtesy of South Park Inn

After a decade of wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, more young veterans are back from combat with nowhere to live. New numbers just released from the federal VA and HUD find in the last year, 13,000 homeless veterans were between the ages of 18 and 30.

They make up nine percent of homeless veterans nationwide but their numbers are only expected to rise as troop drawdowns continue.  In Connecticut, there are anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 veterans who are homeless each day.

A Banking Roundtable

Nov 3, 2011
Chion Wolf

President Obama just unveiled a new plan to help homeowners avoid foreclosure...but what other help is out there?

The state of Connecticut is working to help homeowners as well...sponsoring a mortgage assistance event  on Tuesday November 15.  

Harriet Jones

For many people struggling without power, the answer has been to find a hotel room and hunker down. That’s meant a rush for the shoreline hotels and guest houses in Southeastern Connecticut, which was unscathed in the storm. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Courtesy of Friends of Fisher House Connecticut

Most people have heard of Ronald McDonald houses that provide a place for sick children and their families to stay while seeking medical treatment. But chances are you haven't heard of a Fisher House. Now there's an effort to build one in West Haven.

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