Hartford Foundation Submits Testimony in Support of Several Bills to Prevent Homelessness and Expand Access to Quality, Affordable Housing in Higher Opportunity Neighborhoods

Read the Foundation's Testimony

On Thursday, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving submitted testimony in support of several bills to prevent homelessness and expand access to quality, affordable housing in higher opportunity neighborhoods.

As part of our efforts to dismantle structural racism and improve social and economic mobility for Black and Latinx residents of Greater Hartford, the Hartford Foundation seeks to increase the number of Hartford residents living in higher opportunity neighborhoods.  Higher opportunity neighborhoods are defined by a variety of factors, including low unemployment, better performing schools, lower crime and greater availability of quality, affordable housing stock.

The Hartford Foundation seeks to increase the numbers of Hartford residents living in higher opportunity neighborhoods both by increasing the opportunities in Hartford neighborhoods and by increasing the ability of Hartford residents to choose to move to other higher opportunity areas throughout the Greater Hartford region. In order to support these outcomes, the Foundation invests in efforts designed to increase the stability, availability, and quality of affordable housing in the Greater Hartford region; align and leverage additional investment in Hartford neighborhoods, and increase social strength and connectedness of Hartford neighborhoods. COVID has reinforced the need for all of us to live in safe, stable homes, in safe, stable neighborhoods, in safe, stable communities.

Public commitment must address the interplay of basic human needs, including access to food, mental and physical health care services, housing and other needs, and provide adequate support to the nonprofit organizations providing these services.

While the Foundation prioritizes its investment to support access to quality, affordable housing for Black and Latinx residents with lower incomes, creating a diversity of housing in a neighborhood is an integral component to support economic and community development in our urban communities. The Foundation endorses efforts to create more middle income housing in its urban neighborhoods. With the proliferation of deeply affordable housing in Hartford, many professionals including police, firefighters, and teachers often find it challenging to find quality housing in the city. For these reasons, the Hartford Foundation supports Senate Bill 49, An Act Increasing Opportunities for Workforce Housing Development In The State.

According to The Brookings Institution, cities benefit financially from having more middle-class residents. Property taxes make up the largest source of local government revenue for most cities. Cities made up of a few very wealthy residents and many poor residents face difficult choices: imposing high property tax rates may push their most affluent constituents into lower-tax suburbs, but allowing the quality of public services to deteriorate also threatens stability. When more middle-income residents move into a jurisdiction, renting or purchasing homes, cities can collect more property tax revenues from a broader cross-section of households. Middle-class residents also have more disposable income than poor households to spend on groceries, restaurants, movies, and dry cleaners – all items that are consumed locally which encourages private investment in urban neighborhoods.

By using tax credits, fee waivers and property tax abatement, Senate Bill 49 is a pragmatic approach to creating create additional opportunities for the development of workforce housing in opportunity zones and other parts of our state.