A fight over housing segregation is dividing one of America’s most liberal states

“The fight is over whether Connecticut’s towns and cities need to change the rules that dictate what types of homes can be built and where. Currently, it is illegal to build anything other than single-family homes in the majority of the state — over 90 percent of zoned land is set aside for single-family housing.

These homes are necessarily more expensive than other types of homes, like duplexes, multiplexes, townhomes, and apartments. There are also other rules such as the number of parking spaces you have to build per home, or restrictions on the height of your property, or bans on allowing homeowners to build a separate small structure in your backyard. All of these rules have the effect of fewer homes being built, even as demand continues to grow.”

“According to one measure by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Connecticut has the 15th-most regulated residential building environments. In doing so, it has confined poorer people to small parts of the state and likely discouraged countless more from ever moving to the state.

Another measure, the Opportunity Atlas created by Harvard University researchers, maps opportunity in the state. The map of Connecticut (pictured below) shows a sea of blue with pockets of dark red. Residents in the blue counties can expect their children to grow up and make a good living. But the map also reveals the segregationist effects of localities’ zoning policies. Poverty is concentrated in a few tiny pockets, so much so that in some of the red areas, a child born there could expect to grow up and have their household earn less than a third of what a child in a nearby dark blue area would earn.

One clear example of this is the capital city of Hartford, which NBC Connecticut reports has a poverty rate of 31.2 percent, while the surrounding suburbs see a poverty rate of only 7.8 percent.”  

“fewer homes but growing demand means higher prices for everyone.”


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