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.

State of Connecticut

The Connecticut Veterans' Home in Rocky Hill includes a nursing home and a domiciliary that gives shelter and food to many veterans who were formerly homeless. A recent study of the facility points to a need for dramatic improvements. 

Falling oil prices are perhaps nowhere more welcome than in northern New England, where most homes burn heating oil in their furnaces. But cheaper heating oil is refilling consumers' pockets just as high electric prices are emptying them out.

For example, a heating oil truck delivers 600 gallons of heating oil every two weeks to an old, four-story brick building in Concord, N.H. At last year's oil prices, each refill would have cost around $2,200. Right now, it's more than $300 cheaper.

A federal directive will go into effect Saturday making it easier for some Americans to come up with a down payment to buy a house.

The vast majority of home loans are guaranteed by the government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The regulator in charge of Fannie and Freddie will allow first-time homebuyers to put down as little as 3 percent.

Chion Wolf

There's 13 months to go in the federal VA's five year plan to end veteran homelessness.

VA staff and community partners in Connecticut met this week at a summit to discuss how they plan to reach the goal by the end of 2015.

University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut is in negotiations to buy a hotel in Storrs and eventually turn it into a student dormitory.

Heather Brandon / WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy has told New Britain officials he'll do what he can to help the city find money for an emergency winter shelter for the homeless. But soon after the meeting Thursday, he said the city would likely have to rely on a "cobbled together" plan for funding. 

Few people know about the lives of homeless people.

So, in honor of his late uncle who battled schizophrenia and was homeless on and off for 30 years, Kevin Adler started the Homeless GoPro Project to capture the stories of 100 homeless people across the country.

Adler tells Here & Nows Robin Young how technology and connections with homeless service providers can help dispel myths the general public have about homeless people.

City of Bridgeport

An ex-employee has sued the Bridgeport Housing Authority, claiming she was fired to cover up $2 million in fraud and mismanagement she discovered. 

Cities are increasingly getting tough on food distribution programs for the homeless. According to the Sun Sentinel, a 90-year-old activist and two pastors from two churches in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., were arrested at a park on Sunday and then again on Wednesday for doing what they've been doing there for years: serving meals to the homeless.

A Voice for Connecticut's Homeless

Nov 6, 2014
Marc Brüneke / Creative Commons

A report released by the National Coalition for the Homeless last month shows a growing number of U.S. cities are making it illegal to hand out food to the homeless. Since January 2013, 21 cities have passed legislation restricting food distribution. 

Paul Bass / New Haven Independent

Governor Malloy announced on Thursday a $21.5 million investment in phase two of New Haven’s Downtown Crossing plan.

Two years after Superstorm Sandy struck the Northeast, hundreds of Staten Islanders are deciding whether to sell their shorefront homes to New York state, which wants to knock them down and let the empty land act as a buffer to the ocean.

Stephen Drimalas was one Staten Islander faced with this tough decision. He lived in a bungalow not far from the beach in the working-class neighborhood of Ocean Breeze. He barely escaped Sandy's floodwaters with his life.

If you don't have a place to live, getting enough to eat clearly may be a struggle. And since homelessness in the U.S. isn't going away and is even rising in some cities, more charitable groups and individuals have been stepping up the past few years to share food with these vulnerable folks in their communities.

But just as more people reach out to help, cities are biting back at those hands feeding the homeless.

Connecticut's Slow Housing Recovery

Oct 10, 2014
Chion Wolf / WNPR

It’s been years since the housing market crashed. But in that time, increased job insecurity and the rising cost of living have left many questioning whether the American dream of homeownership is still a practical one, especially for the nation’s low- and middle-wage earners.

stewartfornb.com

New Britain's mayor is looking for space to serve as an emergency homeless shelter this winter. 

The Herald of New Britain reports that Mayor Erin Stewart is asking that a local property owner step forward and donate a building. 

Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

The state Veterans' Home sits on a sprawling campus in Rocky Hill but most of the buildings were built more than 70 years ago. In August, Governor Dannel Malloy asked for the creation of an advisory group to examine how the property--which offers several types of residential care-- can be transformed to serve more veterans.

Wikimedia Commons

Allan Borghesi wanted to rezone about 60 acres in New Hartford and Canton from "residential" to "industrial" and, earlier this summer, it looked like the deal was a sure bet. New Hartford signed off on the proposal in June, but opposition in Canton grew in the interim -- organizing itself on Facebook and through petitions. Now, Borghesi has withdrawn his request.

Staten Island's Fox Beach neighborhood used to be a working-class area with about 180 homes, mostly small bungalows. Fox Beach is — or rather was — a few hundred feet from the Atlantic Ocean, and after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, homeowners decided their neighborhood was dangerous in terms of natural disasters and too expensive because of the rising cost of flood insurance.

So the state has been tearing down the homes.

Bill Bye's home at 16 Kissam Ave. was a recent one to go.

Wikimedia Commons

A proposed industrial development on 60 acres near the Farmington River is generating pushback from residents in New Hartford and Canton.

A New York City-based developer unveiled plans today for a major renovation to an apartment complex in downtown Springfield.  The project was hailed by city officials as another big step in downtown’s  revitalization.

Officials with the SilverBrick group outlined plans for what they said would be a $6 million renovation of the 280-unit complex that fronts Main Street.  The extensive makeover will include luxury amenities intended to persuade people to pay market-rate rents to live in the urban center.

Connecticut's Slow Housing Recovery

Sep 4, 2014
Chion Wolf / WNPR

It’s been years since the housing market crashed. But in that time, increased job insecurity and the rising cost of living have left many questioning whether the American dream of homeownership is still a practical one, especially for the nation’s low- and middle-wage earners.

Salvation Army

The city of Hartford recently cut $100,000 from a homeless shelter as part of its effort to keep taxes down and avoid layoffs. Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said he's still hoping find money to undo the cut. 

The financial crisis pushed millions of Americans from their homes. And housing advocates complain that the government did more to prop up big banks on Wall Street than it did to help average people on Main Street.

But many of those people on Main Street could still qualify for a government program to help them save money by refinancing their mortgages.

Ray Hardman / WNPR

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal hosted a roundtable discussion Monday on the issue of youth homelessness in Connecticut.

Tammy Strobel / Flickr Creative Commons

I live in a small house on a street of big houses. And when I say big, some of the houses on my street are 7,000 and 8,000 square feet. A big house signifies an important person, right? The governor lives in a mansion. The Archbishop of Hartford lives down the street from him in a house that's even bigger.

Citigroup said Monday it had agreed to pay $7 billion to settle a federal investigation into subprime mortgages it sold in the run-up to the financial meltdown of 2008.

The deal covers mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations issued, structured or underwritten by Citi between 2003 and 2008, the company said in a statement on its website.

SunTrust has agreed to pay $968 million as part of a settlement with the government over charges that it failed to comply with standards required for federally backed mortgages.

The settlement between SunTrust Mortgage and the Justice Department and other agencies includes money for homeowners and a requirement that the company improve its procedures for mortgage loans and foreclosures.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

On Wednesday, Rashema Melson will graduate at the top of her class as the valedictorian of Anacostia High School in Washington, D.C. She's headed to Georgetown University this fall on a full scholarship.

A fifth new power supply substation has been put into service on Metro-North’s New Haven rail line. Officials say it will add redundancy to help avoid electrical outages. Governor Malloy and state transportation officials toured the New Haven Rail Yard today. It’s being upgraded and expanded over several years costing $1.15 billion dollars.

Governor Malloy Wants Answers Into Funds Owed from Teachers' Retirement Board

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