Arming affordable housing in the name of social justice is wrong and counterproductive

For the editor:

A May 24 article in the CT Examiner, “Developer Threatens 8-30g, Racial Justice Protests, After Darien Asks to Scale Back” by Cate Hewitt describes a Darien Architectural Review Board meeting held last week, where the Developer Harold Platz has threatened to change from the currently proposed 22-unit three-story building to a larger project including more affordable units if the council does not compromise on the features of the project. Unfortunately, Mr. Platz has weaponized affordable housing and employed racist language and stereotypes that have contributed to Connecticut’s status as one of the most segregated states in the nation.

Like many of its neighboring towns, Darien does not have a lot of affordable housing. Over the period 2002 – 2021, Darien’s affordable housing supply increased by only 194, bringing affordable housing supply to 4% of its housing stock. For several years, the city has implemented a Housing Inclusion Ordinance that requires a portion of homes in a development to be set aside to remain affordable to households with incomes below 80% of the median income of state households. It’s a good policy, but Darien still has a long way to go.

Section 8-30g, a decades-old state law, simply gives developers working to develop affordable housing a right of action when city zoning officials oppose such development on grounds fallacious. Where cities have yet to reach a threshold of 10% of their affordable housing stock (deed-restricted units, voucher-subsidized rentals, and subsidized mortgages count), 8-30g can and has helped create thousands of desperately needed affordable housing options in Connecticut.

While many would agree that we need to create more affordable housing options, using racist scare tactics to achieve this goal is wrong and counterproductive. Mr. Platz’s suggestion that residents of affordable housing are necessarily “minorities” is not only a racial stereotype, but also a factual error. While households of color make up a disproportionate share of households facing housing insecurity compared to the overall population thanks to decades of state, local and federal laws designed to prevent such stability, most low-income households in the Connecticut area are led by whites.

Arming affordable housing, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) housing rights and social justice movements in the name of this cause is morally unjustifiable. Using these tactics to justify building affordable housing is wrong.

Sean Gio
Director of Policy, Partnership for Strong Communities

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