Support Local News.

Please support our work by subscribing today.

Construction update on The Day's Housing Solutions Lab

We're happy to announce we're starting an in-depth investigation into the region's housing crisis in April after months of "listening tour" interviews with members of the community, applying for grants, organizing story ideas and lining up staffing.

Staff Writers Elizabeth Regan and Johana Vazquez, and photographer Sarah Gordon, will begin reporting next month. We're lining up freelance journalists to cover their beats while they're assigned to the project for at least three months. Others will be involved as we tackle a growing list of topics.

The housing crisis has deepened since we first told you about our plan in November 2021 and asked for the community's help with funding in December 2021. Housing costs continue to soar, along with inflation. Eviction cases are climbing in Connecticut, with 15,110 filed in state courts since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020, and 558 court filings in just the past week, according to Princeton University's Eviction Lab.

We're calling our yearlong project the Housing Solutions Lab, because we aren't investigating this complicated topic merely to point out problems. We plan to have tangible impact. We'll show our readers how policy changes would help, then advocate for them through our editorial section. We'll examine how housing funds are distributed; and if we expose inefficiencies, we'll also look for and propose solutions. 

We're looking to partner with organizations to ensure that financial literacy training is available to help people in our region become more capable of managing their expenses. 

Maureen Croteau, a longtime member of The Day's board of directors, has volunteered her help. Croteau was the head of University of Connecticut's journalism program for 38 years before retiring in August 2021. She's also a member of the Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame. She's told us recently that she misses mentoring aspiring journalists — even has dreams about it — and offered to work with UConn students on our project. We'll be ironing out the details in coming weeks and will keep you posted.

Fundraising continues. Journalism funded by community and philanthropic sources is new to us, and we've been working with the Local Media Association, along with 20 other news organizations around the country, to learn fundraising. Since The Day is a for-profit organization, the Local Media Foundation, a 501(c)(3), is serving as our fiscal sponsor so that donors can make tax-deductible contributions.

We've raised $28,000 and will be hearing in the next few weeks whether we'll be receiving additional grants from local and regional funders. We've also reopened our online Community Journalism Fund page, and expect to continue fundraising throughout the course of the project. Please consider donating what you can.

Our goal is to raise $245,000, which would enable us to hire three full-time journalists and pay for events, marketing, translation, travel and equipment. We'll be providing editing and management of the project.

While we'll remain focused on solutions throughout the course of the project, we plan to start by introducing the issues. The first set of stories, to publish sometime this summer, will include an overview of available housing in each town in New London County and an introduction of some of the people affected.

We'll also be focusing on our home city of New London during this initial reporting. We want to tell a fuller story of the Thames River Apartments, a housing project, also known as the Crystal Avenue high-rises, that is being demolished. We're going to be talking to people who were relocated from Crystal Avenue, and if you'd like to participate please email Johana Vazquez at j.vazquez@theday.com.

With each brainstorming session and meeting we attend, our list of stories and our commitment to the project has grown.

We're grateful to each person who has taken the time to talk to us, and for each generous donation we've received.

Karen Florin is The Day's Engagement Editor. She can be reached at (860) 701-4217 or k.florin@theday.com.

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments

TRENDING

PODCASTS