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.

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

The title of Ta-Nehisi Coates' much-discussed cover story at The Atlantic, "The Case for Reparations," might be something of a misnomer.

A White House official said Thursday that President Obama will tap San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to become housing secretary and Shaun Donovan, his current housing chief, to run the budget office.

A formal announcement is scheduled to be made on Friday afternoon.

allnightavenue / Creative Commons

Hartford has the highest rate of underwater mortgages in the country, according to a new report that says communities of color are most likely to owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. But the city administration disputes the data on which the study is based.

Governor Dannel Malloy is being honored in Washington, D.C. for his efforts to bolster affordable housing in Connecticut. The National Low Income Housing Coalition presented Malloy with the Edward W. Brook Housing Leadership Award on Tuesday at the group’s annual Housing Leadership Awards Reception.

Hundreds of advocates for prohibiting the storage of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” as it’s called, delivered petitions with over 5,600 signatures to lawmakers at a rally on Wednesday at the LOB. Though Connecticut doesn’t have the natural resource deposits to engage in the process of digging for natural gas,  many fear that companies seeking to store the waste created by the process will make their way to into Connecticut from outside the state. They want Governor Dannel Malloy and lawmakers to prohibit it.

realtor.com

When the Copper Beech Farm in Greenwich went on the market last spring at an asking price of $190 million dollars, it was the most expensive single-family home ever to hit the American market. Many people thought it wouldn’t close at nine figures. But it has.

I was fighting a rat for the remnants of a corn dog I'd salvaged from the trash. That's when I realized I'd crossed the final line I had drawn.

I had told myself, as long as I don't shoot up, I'm OK. As long as I'm not homeless, I'm OK. But now I was shooting up and homeless, and there was nowhere left to draw. I had reached the bottom line of my existence.

Former Connecticut governor John Rowland has pleaded not guilty to federal charges. For the second time in a decade Rowland is facing political corruption charges. Just a week ago Rowland resigned from his radio talk show and late yesterday was indicted on seven counts by a federal grand jury in New Haven.

CMLS

Connecticut's housing market continued to improve in January, and market-watchers said it's possible the state could see big gains in the spring selling season.

The state also saw distinct improvement in its housing market activity for the full year of 2013, with sales up six percent and prices rising 8.3 percent over the year. The numbers come from the Warren Group, a real estate data firm, and it marks the best full year results for the Connecticut market since 2005, before the market crash.

Aaron didn't intend to tell his classmates that he was homeless. But when he recorded his own story with StoryCorpsU — a project designed to help kids in high-needs schools build stronger relationships with their teachers — he says, it just came out.

"I felt ... like a big load was let off," Aaron explains. (NPR has withheld Aaron's last name, at the request of his foster care agency, to protect his privacy.) "I don't know what made me say it, but I'm like, 'Let me just be honest and just get it out.' "

Carmine Salvatore/iStock / Thinkstock

The state has made a funding cut to housing that supports those with severe mental illness. Agencies that serve these clients said they'll have to look for creative ways to make up the difference.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Governor Dannel Malloy wants to commit more than $7 million to mental health services annually.  The announcement comes as Malloy continues to roll out his agenda for the upcoming legislative session.

CT-N

Total Mortgage Services has announced a deal with the state of Connecticut to expand its headquarters in Milford. The company said it will create 140 new jobs in the town, doubling its Connecticut workforce over five years.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Last summer, we told you the story of plans to knock down two of the biggest and oldest public housing complexes remaining in the city of Hartford. Officials at the Hartford Housing Authority hoped that developers would think big when it came to what's next.

But it turns out they didn't think big enough. 

Architects at Paolasquare International are giving away this historic house in Arlington, Va. for free.
Sarah L.

Connecticut officials are campaigning for the extension of a federal tax provision that expired at the end of last year. It's the tax relief provided for distressed families that have to sell their homes at a loss, or who go through a foreclosure.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

In old cities with old housing, blight is a constant concern. Now, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra is boosting a program to give residents money to fix up their homes. 

Rosie O'Beirne / Creative Commons

With single digit temperatures and below-zero wind chills in the forecast for Monday night and Tuesday, Governor Malloy has enacted the state's severe weather protocol, which coordinates homeless shelters and various state agencies though the state's 211 information and referral line. 

Chion Wolf

“Invisible” is often a term used for homeless youth who fall through the cracks, who lack support and resources. Often, these young people are from minority groups, or are LGBT. Many come out of the foster or juvenile justice system. Fifty percent of them do not have a high school diploma. 

It’s a sad story, and one that is hard to quantify, because there are few hard numbers on how many young people are on the streets. 

Fuse / Thinkstock

The housing market made strong gains in 2013, but there's a lot of uncertainty about what might happen in 2014.  

Housing prices in Connecticut rose ten percent in 2013, the strongest year since the financial crash, giving an improvement of $25,000 on the median price of a single family home. 

Susan Campbell

Frequent WNPR guest and former Hartford Courant columnist Susan Campbell rode along with the Hartford Homeless Outreach Team early on Thursday morning. She works for Partnership for Strong Communities, which is working to end homelessness.

frankiefotografie/iStock / Thinkstock

A study released this month explores homelessness among youths in Connecticut. The report, called “Invisible No More,” was co-authored by two researchers, Derrick Gordon and Bronwyn Hunter, of The Consultation Center at Yale University School of Medicine. They found that homeless youths are a virtually invisible population in the state, often not connected to services that could help steer them away from the risks of poverty, crime, and addiction. 

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