By: Danielle Hubley, Advocacy & Education Manager, Partnership for Strong Communities
What does a thriving community look like to you? This was a central question that guided discussions at the 2023 Connecticut Affordable Housing Conference (CAHC). Now in its fourth year, the annual CAHC attracted a record number of attendees. This underscored a sobering reality: many communities are not thriving without access to safe, affordable homes.
We know households aren’t making enough to afford housing and other costs of living. We know households of color have been denied the generational wealth afforded to their white counterparts who can own and pass down their homes to their children and grandchildren. We know our housing is aging and in need of repairs to support more households over longer periods of time. We know that there is a significant lack of available and affordable housing stock across the state. Conversations about affordable housing are often shaped by deficits—what we lack—rather than envisioning the change we would like to see.
This year’s conference sought to shift the narrative surrounding affordable housing. Kicking off with an insightful keynote address from Majora Carter, author of the bestselling book, “Reclaiming Your Community: You Don’t Have to Move Out of Your Neighborhood to Live in a Better One”. Framing housing as a talent retention strategy, Carter noted that when people see the value of investing in their communities, they are better able to see their own value, and are more likely to invest in themselves and their neighborhoods alike.
Carter’s address set the stage for the two days of learning that followed her remarks. Attendees had the opportunity to hear firsthand from national, state and local leaders in the sector including residents and advocates. These voices and expertise shared crucial tools and insights aimed at making Connecticut a better, healthier, more affordable place to live.
Acknowledging the problem by how out of hand it is or how many people are suffering as a result is only half of the equation. It is important to understand what needs to be addressed in order to create a more equitable communities, but that does not get to what a thriving Connecticut could actually look like. Change requires imagination.
The CAHC not only to showcased examples of best practices and effective interventions to address the state’s housing problems, but worked to bring more people into the process of envisioning what it looks like to live in a state that meets everyone’s housing needs in the community of their choice.
Click here to view recordings from all sessions at the CAHC.