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    Sunday, April 14, 2024

    Affordable housing is for all of us

    In Southeastern Connecticut, discussions regarding municipal affordable housing plans have ignited a critical conversation about housing equity and inclusion in our region. Elected officials are starting to acknowledge their constituents’ pain of not having affordable, safe and appropriate housing. As reported by The Day, discussions in the Town of Lyme about affordable housing and Rep. Doug Dubitsky's (R, 47th District) opposition to tiny homes for the homeless underscore the urgent need to reevaluate our approach to housing policy.

    Affordable housing — housing you can afford — must not be a privilege reserved for a select few in affluent communities. It is a fundamental human right and a cornerstone of vibrant, equitable societies. The suggestion that affordable housing should be confined to certain towns — or, as suggested in Lyme, to certain people — undermines the values of fairness and justice upon which our communities should be built. It needlessly perpetuates socioeconomic segregation and denies opportunities to those who are most in need. Instead, we must recognize that housing is a basic necessity that all individuals deserve access to, regardless of their zip code or income. Every town in our region can be both a wonderful place to live and have housing options that are affordable to every community member.

    Moreover, the dismissal of alternative housing solutions, such as tiny homes, reflects a failure to acknowledge the complexity of our housing crisis and the diverse needs and changing demographics of our region’s population. Rep. Dubitsky's opposition to tiny homes for the homeless, publically labeling them as "dangerous," is uninformed and ignores the potential of one innovative solution to provide critically needed, safe, affordable housing options for vulnerable residents in the towns he represents.

    In Lyme, discussion about the implementation of the town's affordable housing plan signals an important step in the right direction. However, it is crucial that all municipal affordable housing plans throughout our region proactively prioritize inclusivity and accessibility for all residents. We must work together to ensure this new generation of affordable housing plans do not perpetuate the exclusivity and segregation that has defined the past in Southeastern Connecticut. Affordable housing initiatives must be implemented to promote diversity and foster strong, inclusive communities.

    To address the housing crisis in Connecticut, we need bold, forward-thinking leadership that is committed to housing equity for all residents. This requires a collaborative effort across municipalities to develop comprehensive, regionally-focused housing practices and policies that prioritize fairness and inclusion and set the stage for a brighter future in our region.

    “Home is where we start from,” penned T.S Elliot. We must reject the politics of exclusion that have defined our past and embrace a vision of Southeastern Connecticut where everyone has access to safe, affordable housing. By working together to address the root causes of housing inequality, we can build stronger, more resilient communities where all residents can thrive. It is time for Southeastern Connecticut to lead by example and demonstrate its commitment to housing justice for all. After all, affordable housing is not just about roofs and walls; it's about building foundations of hopes and dreams for all and nurturing the spirit of a vibrant, equitable community. Mr. Elliot’s poem should have said, “Home is where we (all) start from.”

    Beth Sabilia is the Director of the Center for Housing Equity & Opportunity Eastern CT.

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