From financials to health care, a sudden eviction impacts every facet of a person’s life. Local experts say the housing crisis continues to be a growing problem for Connecticut residents.
A report by Connecticut Voices for Children aims to identify root causes and suggests numerous legislative actions to address the issue throughout the state.
“The state’s affordable housing crisis is one of self-inflicted harm and we’ve slowly been bleeding out. That said, this crisis is fixable, but it requires courageous action,” said Emily Byrne, executive director of Connecticut Voices for Children. The crisis “requires an array of policy solutions.”
Who is impacted?Connecticut residents are more likely to use 30% or more of their income on housing compared to the rest of the United States, said Samaila Adelaiye, one of the main authors of the eviction report. An estimated 58% of households in Connecticut with an annual income of less than $50,000 live in rented homes.
The relationship between increasing rents and static wages is one of many driving factors in the Connecticut housing crisis, Adelaiye said. He explained that rent costs in Connecticut have increased by 7% since 2005, but household income earnings have decreased by 2%. Data from the report found that towns with lower median incomes were likelier to have higher eviction filing rates.
The housing crisis disproportionately impacts Black and Latino households, Adelaiye said. He explained that 59% of Black households and 33% of Latino families live in rented homes.
The impact evictions have on residents is profound, the report found. Evicted people are more likely to experience housing instability and economic hardships, such as homelessness and job loss. Similarly, residents and their families facing housing cost burdens experience health issues that are worsened by their situations.
Multi-pronged solution“Addressing the full arc of the affordable housing crisis, touches upon homelessness abolition, eviction mitigation, land use and zoning reforms that allow for adequate growth of housing across a spectrum,” Byrne said. The housing crisis “requires us to embark on a research and policy journey that has many stops along the way. Each part of the trip is important and each part has numerous solutions.”
The first part of “Addressing Connecticut’s Eviction Crisis” was published in March 2023 and focused on what legislators can do to provide immediate support to those at risk of eviction by looking at the successes and failures of the pandemic era policy that protected renters from evictions.
Long-term solutions, on the other hand, work on two levels. The first is focused on encouraging affordable housing developments through incentives.
Adelaiye said legislation suggestions include leveraging taxes and grants to enable municipalities to promote affordable housing developments, constructing mixed-income housing in areas close to public transit and investing in blighted buildings to be rebuilt and reopened to the community. Other legislation recommendations include expanding the jurisdiction of a public housing authority and providing funds for supportive housing.
The second objective of the long-term solutions is to promote housing security by passing legislation that limits a landlord’s access to eviction process information and passing legislation that protects a person’s right to housing with measures of enforcement.
Most of the legislation suggestions were created in collaboration with on-the-ground community partners who understand the needs of their communities, Byrne added.
She also noted that the most recent legislative session saw housing as a crucial topic and there have been many bills that fall in line with eviction reports’ suggestions, but these are just the first steps.
“The legislature did a good job this past year of tackling some solutions. That stopped the bleeding a little. But… the affordable housing crisis requires an array of policy solutions,” Byrne said. “We’ve got a long way to go.”