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State Senator

Saud Anwar

Representing East Hartford, Ellington, East Windsor and South Windsor

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Senator Anwar, Rep. Mcgee, Housing Committee Co-Chairs, Discuss 2020 Legislative Priorities and the 'Right to Housing'

Today, State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor) joined State Representative Brandon McGee (D-Hartford) as the Senate and House co-chairs of the Housing Committee presented their focuses and legislative priorities for the upcoming 2020 legislative session. As part of their discussion, both Sen. Anwar and Rep. McGee emphasized the need for Connecticut to support efforts to ensure the availability of stable and affordable housing. Sen. Anwar has said that is part of an approach to make Connecticut a "Right To Housing" state by 2030, fighting to prevent and end homelessness.

"No one should be homeless, but we still have homeless in our state," said Sen. Anwar, who added that is despite the efforts of numerous leaders. "We need to aspire to be a 'right to housing' state. If we don't work toward that, we are selling ourselves and our communities short. There is a moral reason for doing this, but there is also a financial reason: the cost of spending $1 on prevention and management of housing issues would result in the social and cost benefit of $15-20 in our communities. We would be able to reduce the cost of mental health care, behavioral health care, substance abuse care and medical care, and the workforce benefits would be essential. We are ahead of most of the country, but we are not ahead of where we should be or where we strive to be."

Sen. Anwar said there will be three broad focuses in Housing Committee priorities to fight housing insecurity and strive toward this goal: prevention of homelessness, better identification and addressing individuals who recently became homeless, and finding long-term solutions. Examples of strategies he shared for prevention included support plans for at-risk individuals, while identifying issues would involve infusing more resources into currently existing and underfunded programs meant to assist individuals. The third would emphasize increasing available housing, especially affordable housing, for individuals to have increased opportunities to find homes.

"While CAN, or the Coordinated Access Network, works well in aiding those who are homeless, we need to bring ourselves to the next step," said Rep. McGee. "When we talk about a right to housing, we talk about stable housing by expanding homeownership, addressing just cause eviction laws, increasing tenant protections, helping to reduce eviction rates across our state, and addressing unscrupulous landlords who exploit properties without concern for tenants, neighborhoods or their own long-term interests. We also need to increase mobility assistance, as having the ability to move to another high-opportunity area is another way to break the cycle of generational poverty."

Rep. McGee cited a Princeton study that found Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport and Waterbury are among the 100 most likely cities for evictions in the Northeast, adding that 75 percent of Hartford households are renters, and as many as one in 18 tenants in the city may face eviction in a given year.

"These are problems that aren't solved by building more shelters or affordable housing units," said Rep. McGee. "It's important to note people who are working are living in homelessness because they cannot afford where they live. About 28 percent of Connecticut's population is low-income. We are short 7,900 rental units low-income people can afford. Two-thirds of homeless are from the suburbs. This is not just an urban problem. It's not a Hartford issue. It's not a Bridgeport issue. It's a Connecticut issue. It's time we stopped preventing those previously incarcerated from accessing housing. We need a strategy to assist those leaving prisons. It's time we provide opportunities to people to access permanent supportive housing, by giving municipalities the power they need to enforce housing codes and provide landlords with the tools they need to provide quality, affordable homes."

Sen. Anwar and Rep. McGee were joined by a number of legislators and housing leaders, among them Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, State Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury), State Representative Robyn Porter (D-New Haven), State Representative Geoff Luxenberg (D-Manchester) and State Representative Joe Zullo (R-East Haven).

Additional speakers included Matthew Morgan, director of nonprofit Journey Home; Karraine Moody, chief executive officer of Hartford Habitat for Humanity; David Hopkins, chief executive officer of the Urban League of Greater Hartford; Melvyn Colon, executive director of the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance, Inc.; Barbara Shaw, executive director of Hands on Hartford; Sarah Fox, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness; Kiley Gosselin, deputy executive director of the Partnership for Strong Communities; and Erin Boggs, executive director of Open Community Alliance.

 

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