Affordable Housing, Community Development

Looking for a Walkable, Livable Neighborhood


My wife and I recently moved back to Connecticut after spending large portions of our twenties in cities as varied as Montreal, New York and Bangkok. Our decision was motivated by our desire to be close to family and friends as we enter our early thirties and begin to “settle down.” This decision was a hard one for us to make, however, because independent of family and friends, other parts of the country had much greater appeal.

While we were no longer looking to live in a mega-city, we were also not looking to return to our previous kinds of life in Killingworth and Hebron, or follow some of our friends into a typical postwar suburb like Glastonbury or Branford. Our priorities may now include good schools and we may pay more attention to safe neighborhoods, but fundamentally we still want to live in communities that offer diverse experiences, walkable streets, quality public spaces and easy access to amenities and jobs.

Unfortunately, very few neighborhoods in Connecticut offer these qualities, and those that do are typically very expensive and/or challenged by broader social problems.

I recognize that many people love Connecticut the way it is, and everyone is not interested in the same neighborhoods as my wife and I. However, I believe there is more demand for these neighborhoods than our current built environment suggests, and allowing that demand to be met in our central cities and in our small towns is vitally important to ensuring a good quality of life for all Connecticut residents as well as for attracting and retaining the young people it needs to prosper in the future.

The Connecticut Committee of the Urban Land Institute Boston will host The Capital Region Economy and New Housing in Downtown Hartford: What’s Next? on March 6, at the UConn Graduate Business Learning Center. You can learn more here.

Chris Canna is the economic development officer for the City of New Haven’s Office of Economic Development, and a volunteer on the Connecticut Steering Committee of Urban Land Institute Boston.

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