Press Release: Proposed Temporary Rental Assistance Program Reinforces Segregation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 16, 2020

Contact: Connecticut Fair Housing Center: Erin Kemple, (860) 263-0723

Proposed Temporary Rental Assistance Program Reinforces Segregation

On Tuesday, June 16, 2020 the Staff of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center sent a letter to the Governor’s office urging this administration to implement a robust and anti-racist rent relief program. In our letter to the Governor, Center staff explain that an anti-racist rental assistance program would: 1) be broad-based and easy to access; 2) prohibit evictions for non-payment of rent; 3) mandate landlord participation; and, 4) provide tenant protections such as extended tenancies, rent stabilization, and mandated safe and sanitary properties.

Hundreds of years of government sponsored policies, neglect, and inaction against explicit racism has built and maintained hyper-segregation in Connecticut. As a result, Black people, and other People of Color are locked into under-resourced neighborhoods. This legacy shapes the pandemic-related housing crisis we have today. This crisis demands an anti-racist response that will protect Black and Latino/a renters who are being disproportionately impacted because of this history. The response must not widen an ever-expanding racial wealth gap or further perpetuate segregation.

Today, Connecticut maintains barriers to integration through exclusionary zoning that limits affordable housing, concentrates poverty through placement of subsidized housing, and thinly veiled racism that restricts housing options for people of color. In Connecticut 60.5% of Black families and 65.8% of Latino families rent their homes compared to only 23.9% of white families. In addition, nearly 60% of Black renters and 55% of Latino renters spend more than 30% of their income on rent compared to 43% of white renters. Without a robust and anti-racist rental relief program, evictions will disproportionately affect People of Color and permanently impact their ability to access secure, safe housing.

We requested that the State commit at least 10% of Coronavirus Relief Funds to start such a program, as opposed to the less than 1% currently allocated, and that this effort must be just the first step in centering race in the forefront of every economic policy decision to create a desegregated Connecticut. We believe Connecticut is capable of acting with wisdom and courage to respond effectively to this crisis and meet the needs of Connecticut’s families. Failure to do so will ratify past racist policies that lead to the current racial inequity and reinforce their lingering malignant effects.

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