Groups push for housing to be built near mass transit in Connecticut

By: Kent Pierce • Published February 15, 2024

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Housing and environmental activists stood together at an event Thursday morning at the state capitol complex in Hartford, pushing lawmakers to pass legislation to help cities and towns build housing near mass transit.

“The American dream has become elusive in Connecticut because people cannot buy homes,” Connecticut Sen. Saud Anwar (D-District 3) said.

Some can’t even afford to rent them, and the housing crisis has become a significant issue in this session of the state legislature.

“Really, those are deeply linked to land use policy in Connecticut, and namely, they are linked to sprawl,” said Peter Harrison, the director of Desegregate Connecticut. “Sprawl is car-centric, low density, single-use land use patterns.”

That is the focus of the Work, Live, Ride Act. Dozens of groups are hoping lawmakers pass it.

“Work, Live, Ride is all about concentrating our economic growth, our housing choice and our transportation networks around existing infrastructure,” Harrison said.

That infrastructure includes train stations and busy bus routes. The act would help cities and towns to focus new investments near those transit hubs. It would also help the Connecticut Office of Responsible Growth provide planning assistance for those cities and towns, along with helping expand affordable housing.

“Finally, the office would administer a new fund for sewer and water expansion for municipalities that choose to participate,” said Chelsea Ross, the executive director of Partnership for Strong Communities.

The idea is to help the housing crisis with more affordable housing units and help the climate crisis by encouraging mass transit use. Proponents also aim to help with desegregation and housing equity.

“The housing that you can afford, the zip code that you can live in, determines a lot of your health,” state Rep. Eleni Kavros DeGraw (D-District 17) said. “It determines the success of your life and your future.”