Affordable Housing, Community Development

Over 150 Gather at Lyceum to Discuss RPA 4th Regional Plan Effort

 

More than 155 experts from across the state representing a multitude of disciplines attended a Regional Plan Association (RPA) panel discussion at The Lyceum on Wednesday, October 29, focusing on the future of the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut region. RPA, working with Partnership for Strong Communities, convened the gathering to solicit feedback and ideas from area stakeholders as they embark on a multi-year effort to produce a comprehensive plan for the NY-NJ-CT region - The 4th Regional Plan. A second forum focusing on Connecticut’s policy and infrastructure needs – and its role in shaping the plan – will be held Nov. 20th at the Pequot Library in Southport. See below for details and registration information.

Chris Jones, RPA vice president for research, discussed the process on Wednesday and provided background for The 4th Regional Plan effort. The plan will cover a wide range of pressing public policy issues of concern for the region: transportation, housing, community development, environmental quality, climate change, government, finance and economic development. In addition, Jones noted that the plan will offer a framework for regional coordination and cooperation among the geographies included in the effort - 783 municipalities brought together by a regional economy.

The Regional Plan Association has issued four plans since 1929, with the last one published in 1996. That plan provided then-cutting-edge advice on incorporating green development and stressed the importance of transit to the region’s future growth. That emphasis on transit was echoed in Wednesday’s conversation.

The panel and their areas of expertise included:

  • Community Development: Andrea Pereira, executive director, Hartford and Connecticut statewide, Local Initiatives Support Corp.
  • Housing: Christy Rubenstein, deputy policy director, Partnership for Strong Communities
  • Transportation: Emil Frankel, former commissioner, Connecticut Department of Transportation and professor of practice at George Washington university Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration
  • Environment, Energy, Climate Change: Roger Reynolds, legal director/director of climate, transportation, and land protection programs and the Connecticut Fund for the Environment
  • Government, Finance, Economic Growth: Joseph McGee, vice president of public policy and programs, Business Council of Fairfield County.
  • The moderator was State Sen. Gary Holder-Winfield, D-New Haven.

Much of the conversation centered on the need to break down barriers among policy areas and work across regional (and ideological) lines. Pereira said organizations and others could do better on collaboration and emphasized that cooperative efforts must include engagement with all members of the community.
 

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McGee spoke about the need to enhance access and connectivity between Connecticut and the New York City economy. McGee pointed to Stamford and what he characterized as its housing boom, largely a result, he said, of its relatively smooth commute to New York City and because Stamford has presented itself as a “fun” place to be.

He also suggested that Connecticut’s wealth/income divide has enormous negative economic impacts. Rubenstein discussed housing policy’s deep connections to various policy issues that are challenging the region and the importance of diversifying housing options in Connecticut to meet the needs of today’s smaller households.

Frankel stressed the need for stronger decision making bodies - in transportation and in other policy areas - that can assess priorities and allocate resources where they are likely to be most effective. Reynolds discussed the need to reduce regulatory barriers that impede access to green infrastructure and energy. Several panelists, including Reynolds and Frankel, discussed the need and costs of increasing resiliency in the region's infrastructure.

Responding to several questions from the audience, Jones reassured the audience that RPA is considering both diversity and deeply affordable housing, and that a well-written plan could provide the context for better individual health outcomes, and more integrated neighborhoods.

RPA and the Partnership will host another discussion on Nov. 20 in Southport. Click here to learn more.

Event materials:

 
 

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