Policy Work

Commission on Equity and Opportunity Re-Entry Task Force

In Connecticut and across the country, anyone with a criminal record will face tremendous barriers to accessing housing. Housing providers often have blanket bans concerning criminal history, and despite guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development that requires individual case-by-case assessments, we know that many housing providers do not follow these rules. Furthermore, African American and Latino individuals are disproportionately represented within the criminal justice system, adding additional barriers to housing on an often already marginalized population.

In 2018, Special Act No. 18-14 called for the Commission on Equity and Opportunity to establish a working group to study housing options for persons reentering the community after incarceration and to recommend an evidence-based housing policy to eliminate barriers to housing. Center staff Salmun Kazerounian and Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens served on the task force, helped to draft policy, and organized outreach efforts.

Governor Malloy Declares April 11th Fair Housing Day

The 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act was commemorated across the nation. In Connecticut, the anniversary was honored when Governor Malloy declared April 11th to be Fair Housing Day. The Center’s Executive Director Erin Kemple accepted the proclamation with a small but steadfast group of bipartisan supporters. During the ceremony, Erin spoke about continued discrimination in housing across Connecticut.

Department of Housing Elderly & Disabled Advocacy

In 2017 the CT State Legislature requested a study of state-funded housing complexes that provide housing to both elderly tenants and younger tenants with disabilities. The purpose of the study was to understand areas of conflict between tenants who are elderly and tenants who are young and disabled, best practices for addressing areas of conflict, and the resources needed to ensure that all tenants can use and enjoy state-funded elderly/disabled housing.

The Center completed the study in 2018 and found that the need for housing for people who live below poverty level and are elderly or young and disabled has grown since the 2004 Housing Populations Report and will continue to grow.

However, the need for housing for people who are young and disabled has grown more quickly than the need for housing for the elderly. Furthermore, the study found that the perception that the young and disabled cause more problems for housing management than the elderly was not true. In fact, the report confirms that the problems are not caused by conflicts between these tenants. Problems in mixed population housing are caused by undiagnosed and untreated mental illness along with addiction issues. These problems have grown as access to mental health and addiction services have diminished.

Fair Housing Legislative Working Group

The Fair Housing Task Force was created and chaired by DOH Commissioner Evonne Klein and Representative Roland Lemar. During 2018, the group brought together fair housing and affordable housing advocates, affordable housing developers, municipal leaders, and local planners to discuss how to overcome Connecticut’s legacy of housing segregation. The group proposed several pieces of legislation which were designed to ensure that CT residents had access to all of the State’s neighborhoods. The Task Force’s efforts to get this legislation passed, while not ultimately successful, resulted in more of Connecticut’s leaders understanding the role played by state and local governments in creating the segregation we see today.