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Hartford Foundation Testimony Regarding S.B. 752, An Act Concerning Housing Segregation

The Hartford Foundation offered testimony to the state Housing Committee on Friday, March 3, in support of provisions of S.B. 752, An Act Concerning Housing Segregation, that seek to have the state collect, consolidate and publish information on housing developments that receive state and federal supports. Connecticut has been a leader in open data, but there is a conspicuous gap in the availability of data on housing which inhibits planning and action at the local, regional and state levels.

The testimony discussed the Foundation's the ongoing work of its Community Indicators Project and how it uses data to identify and build understanding about the issues and opportunities facing the Greater Hartford region. This work includes the publication of Metro Hartford Progress Points report which was developed by a group of key regional stakeholders to provide a periodic 'check-up' to build greater understanding about issues facing the Greater Hartford community.

Read our full testimony below. 

 

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Testimony on S.B.752, An Act Concerning Housing Segregation

Hartford Foundation for Public Giving
Housing Committee
February 28, 2017 

Good afternoon Senator Slossberg, Senator Hwang, Representative Butler, Representative Kupchick and distinguished members of the Housing Committee.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for the 29-town Greater Hartford region with a mission to put philanthropy into action to promote equitable opportunity for all residents in our region. We are the largest community foundation in Connecticut, and among the largest 20 community foundations in the country.

The Hartford Foundation supports provisions of S.B. 752, An Act Concerning Housing Segregation, that seek to have the state collect, consolidate and publish information on housing developments that receive state and federal supports. Connecticut has been a leader in open data, but there is a conspicuous gap in the availability of data on housing which inhibits planning and action at the local, regional and state levels.

At the Hartford Foundation, we believe that data and research help us to better understand and serve the community. That's why the Foundation launched its Community Indicators Project in 2013. The Project uses data to identify and build understanding about the issues and opportunities facing the Greater Hartford region (http.//www.hfpg.org/our-approach/community­indicators). This work includes the publication of the Metro Hartford Progress Points report which was developed by a group of key regional stakeholders to provide a periodic 'check-up' to build greater understanding about issues facing the Greater Hartford community.

In our 2015 report, we highlighted data on the very high degree of racial and economic segregation in the metro Hartford region. According to the analysis of access to opportunity in that report:

  • 47% of the region's labor force live in high or very high opportunity neighborhoods.
  • 31% of children under age 5 in our region live in very low opportunity neighborhoods, more than in any other type of community.
  • 53% of people of color in our region live in very low opportunity neighborhoods.

At the same time, of the 4,000 units of affordable housing created in the Hartford region from 2009 to 2014, 47% were located in the cities of Hartford and New Britain, almost as many were added in the other 36 towns in our region combined.

Why does this matter? Research shows that housing can be a bridge to opportunity for the people and places in greatest need. In 2016, we hosted a discussion by Robert D. Putnam, Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard and author of 'Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.' Based on Dr. Putnam's research, a non-partisan working group (the Saguaro Seminar) recommended more mixed-income housing through housing vouchers, plus counseling' as a way to reduce economic segregation.

Yet today, in the state of Connecticut, we lack detailed data on just these types of proven interventions, inhibiting not only policymakers, but also funders and nonprofits. Much of this data is already collected — such as data on the location, number and type of affordable units — but is not consolidated and published in a manner with sufficient detail to readily inform planning and analysis at the local and regional level. We believe publishing such data is an important first step for investments that have been shown to have positive impact.

Connecticut has been a pioneer in open data, through the State's Open Data Portal and has many other high-quality data providers and research groups. In 2014, the Hartford Foundation commissioned an assessment of resources for data in our region, which concluded that 'data intermediary functions exist and are being performed across multiple organizations in the region,' including through the Connecticut Data Collaborative, DataHaven, the State Data Center at the University of Connecticut, and again through the State's Open Data Portal. Connecticut has the expertise to help close this gap in data and we support the provisions in the bill that seek to provide high-quality data to support local and regional solutions.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Elysa Gordon at 860-548-1888 or EGordonhfpg.org.

 


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