By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer
Hundreds of Hartford residents will be able to move from poor housing conditions in the North End of the city. Thanks to a grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
The foundation awarded a $220,000 grant to the Christian Activities Council, which is starting a new project that will help residents get safe and decent housing leaving Barbour Gardens and Infill, two subsidized apartments in the North End of the city. The two complexes were closed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Council’s program, billed “Empowering Choice” will provide technical, bilingual, legal and relocation information and assistance to residents.
“We are grateful for this support from the Hartford Foundation at a critical time in our No More Slumlords campaign,” said Christian Activities Council Executive Director Cori Mackey. “Helping residents organize for decent, safe, and sanitary living conditions was the first goal. When we realized the owners were unwilling to make needed investments, relocation become the only option.”
She continued: “Many residents want to stay in Hartford, in the neighborhoods they love, and others want to move to other neighborhoods outside of Hartford or outside of Connecticut. Unfortunately, the relocation process is ripe with discriminatory practices and residents face one obstacle after another as a result of the very intentional barriers put before them by a legacy of housing discrimination and systemic racism.”
The affected families were given access to relocation assistance and housing vouchers, which can be used anywhere in Connecticut. Families in disadvantaged areas have faced significant barriers to mobility that confront them when they try to move out of subsidized housing in high-poverty, resource-poor areas of racially and economically segregated metropolitan regions. The Council will provide leadership training and ongoing support and outreach to affected residents. The Open Communities Alliance, a nonprofit civil rights organization that addresses racial segregation through housing policy, will collaborate with the Council. The OCA will provide legal expertise, consultation with residents, and national civil rights experience.
OCA Executive Director Erin Boggs thanks the Foundation for recognizing the extent of the structural barriers faced by residents in Hartford’s North End.
“This generous support enables us, in collaboration with our highly skilled and courageous partners at the Council, to provide vital guidance and advocacy services for residents on a continuous basis and in real-time as they contend with the many challenges of relocating under tight time constraints in a voucher program and rental market that for many are unfamiliar.”
Other organizations that will lend support are The Yale Law School Housing Clinic, the Greater Hartford Legal Aid and the Connecticut Fair Housing Center.