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    Tuesday, April 23, 2024

    The Day’s housing investigation hits home

    Housing Solutions Lab logo
    Rocky Neck Village housing development in East Lyme, seen on Monday, October 28, 2022. (Peter Huoppi/The Day)
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    The Day tackled an issue in 2022 that hits home for everyone: affordable housing. And we did it with financial assistance from our readers and philanthropic organizations.

    The Housing Solutions Lab, a investigative project that is continuing into 2023, is our first community journalism project of this kind, and we’re pleased with the results: We humanized the issue for our readers by telling the stories of neighbors who are struggling with housing, produced data-driven stories about the policies behind the affordable housing issue, analyzed the local housing market and deepened relationships with key community stakeholders.

    Our readers often tell us they want us to “dig deeper” into important topics, and we love nothing more than giving our journalists time to do a deep dive.

    With market conditions being what they are for news companies ― declining advertising revenue is a major factor ― we knew we had to seek outside funding for an investigation of this magnitude.

    We began fundraising in December 2021 and have raised more than $70,000 to date. The majority of our funds will be spent on reporting staff.

    Our community is worth the investment, and we can’t thank our funders enough. Significant change often takes years or decades, we saw some immediate impact after The Day began writing about health and housing. Reporter Kimberly Drelich and summer intern Julia Walker delved into the mold problem that plagues apartments at Branford Manor in Groton and elsewhere. Local, state and federal officials took notice and are holding the manager of the apartment complex accountable and contemplating the regulation of mold levels.

    We’ve laid out the problems with the state’s affordable housing regulations and introduced you to people who are stuck living in hotels, facing eviction and being sickened by their homes.

    In 2023, our project will be all about solutions. We’ll follow proposed legislation around mold and affordable housing. We’ll take a look at programs that work, including Habitat for Humanity, and will find communities that are having success in the affordable housing arena. We’ll see whether accessory dwelling units, such as tiny houses and in-law apartments are a viable solution. And we’ll produce content around the topic of financial literacy to help our audience manage their money in order to improve their lives.

    We’ve been meeting with our funders and will continue our “listening tour” of community members.

    Here’s what Sarah Armour-Jones, director of communications and strategy for the Melville Charitable Trust, had to say about our project:

    “The Day’s housing reporting is a great example of a small, independent newsroom making a big impact. The Housing Solutions Lab has delivered strong reporting on mold and lead, the challenges of using housing vouchers, and the severe lack of available, affordable rental housing in the region. The Day exemplifies the power of community-focused journalism.

    Catch up on all our housing reporting at https://www.theday.com/section/housing-lab/ as we work on the next installment. You can donate at: https://givebutter.com/thedayhousing.

    We’re excited to continue this important work.


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